Buying a new home is usually an exciting time, but it’s always a good idea to show some caution. While walking into your dream home might immediately have you shouting, “I’ll take it”, it’s important to remember that buying property could be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make and there are some things you’ll need to tick off your checklist first.
Learn all the key terms
It’s a good idea to get to grips with the key terms related to the buying and selling process. We’re not suggesting that you become conveyancing experts, but it’s good to have an understanding of what you are being told about.
Calculate your costs
Buying a property costs more than just the price you agree to, there are other things such as solicitors’ fees, removal companies, surveyors, searches, and even mortgage applications to be considered. Before beginning your property search, you should be aware of how much you need to budget for extra services.
Sell before you buy
If you already own a home and are looking to fund your move by selling it, it is advisable to have received an offer on your existing property before you go out house hunting. Having the funds available and a contract of sale in place can make you a far more attractive purchaser.
Visit and view the property
While many home selling platforms and apps allow you the opportunity to take a video tour of a property, nothing beats visiting it in the flesh. It allows you to check out the parking, what the neighbourhood is like, and inspect the place for signs of damp, faulty electrics, and noisy neighbours.
Drive around the area at different times of day
Even if you know the neighbourhood well, it’s still advisable to see what it’s like at different times of day. You may, for example, know that there is a primary school nearby, but might not realise that the school run makes your new road inaccessible for two hours a day. Similarly, while it may be quiet during a day viewing, your new neighbours may start their trumpet practice at 7pm every evening.
Ask the seller questions about the property
As we’ve already said, buying a new home is a major investment and the person who will know it best is the current owner. So, if you have any questions about the property or the area it is in, ask them. It’s fine to ask when the house was rewired or if it has had any work done recently. After all, if your spending hundreds of thousands on a property, no question should really be considered to be a silly one.
Get a mortgage ‘agreement in principle’
A mortgage ‘agreement in principle’ is a letter from your lender which states how much they are prepared to lend you and makes you look like a serious buyer. It also shows the seller that you have the finances in place to complete the sale.
Instruct a surveyor before you exchange contracts
A surveyor is there to spot the problems in a home that you may not have been aware of. Instructing a surveyor before you exchange contracts can save you money on costly repairs in the long run and can provide information that can improve your negotiating position.
Regularly communicate with your solicitor
If you’re unsure of anything in the documents or contract, speak to your solicitor. Additionally, if something goes wrong with the property post-completion, your solicitor will be there to provide you with the appropriate legal advice.
Keep detailed records of any communications with the vendor
It’s always advisable to keep a notebook for when you have conversations with the seller, just in case you need to refer to them at a later date.
Carry out searches
Carrying out searches is a standard part of any buying process if you are purchasing with a mortgage, but you can also purchase additional searches for an extra fee. We would always advise on taking out additional searches as you can never know too much about property you are buying.
Thoroughly check your contract and all documents
Before signing anything make sure that the contract and all other documents are correct and that there are no mistakes on them. If you do find any mistakes, notify your solicitor immediately.
Consider the long-term financial implications of the process
Before signing on the dotted line, take some time to consider the long-term financial implications of the purchase. Whether you can afford it, how you will pay the mortgage if you lose your job or have a cut in hours etc. It may be advisable to have a chat with an independent financial advisor or an independent mortgage broker to advise you on products that could protect you if the worst happens.
Research how much to offer
Online property searches can give you a good idea of how much properties are selling for in the area and can give a good starting point for making an offer. Additionally, your property survey may give you a valuation or may have raised some issues which support a lower offer than the asking price.
Ask the seller to take it off the market
You’ve found your dream home, have made an offer, it’s been accepted and then someone comes along and makes a higher offer meaning you lose the property. This is known as gazumping and can be stopped by asking the seller to take the property off the market once they have accepted your offer.
Only use professionals
Yes, we realise that we are a solicitors telling you to only use professionals, but it really is important. Buying a property is an important legal and financial transaction, so you want to know that the people completing the paperwork are qualified. Similarly, when considering moving your belongings, look at a professional removal company. Not only are they experienced in lifting and moving furniture, but they’re also insured against damage and breakages.
Stay contactable and up to date
The timeline for buying a property can vary and any delay can hold up a whole chain of property purchases and sales. For this reason, it is advised that you make sure that all of your paperwork is up to date and that you remain contactable (probably a good idea to avoid going on holiday).
If you’re beginning a new property hunt or have laid your eyes on your dream home, our conveyancing team offer an excellent service with transparent pricing. Contact us to arrange an appointment.