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Guide to buying a property

Purchasing a new place to call home is an exciting time, and there is a lot to do!

To assist, we have put together a few tips and ideas that we hope you will find useful. If you’re still unsure of anything after reading our guide, please get in touch and we’ll do our very best to answer any questions you may have.

Fixing a budget

  • First job! Get some professional mortgage advice before doing anything else (we can put you in touch with an Independent Financial Adviser if required).
  • Mortgage-lending policy today is quite different from that of 5 or 10 years ago, so clarify what you can borrow today, and get an ‘agreement in principle’ from a lender.
  • Don’t overstretch yourself unnecessarily – remember you don’t have to borrow up to your limit.
  • Remember that interest rates will almost certainly rise in the future, so build a cushion into your sums.

Where would you like to live?

  • Write down the qualities you’d like from your neighbourhood.
  • Make a shortlist of areas that fit the bill.
  • Take a walk around in the day and evening to see which area you like.
  • Use the local estate agents’ knowledge – talk to them about catchment areas, commutes, etc.
  • If you are looking locally, read our Area Guides for a run down of some of the towns and villages we cover.

What sort of home would you like?

Make two lists: Needs, and Wants. The two lists will probably be quite different!

Possible needs:

  • Minimum number of bedrooms.
  • Garden for children or pets.
  • Parking for car(s).
  • Catchment area for schools.
  • Proximity of train station or roads, for commuting to your workplace.

Can you be flexible on anything? For example, would you be willing to extend or improve a property to achieve your ideal home?

Possible Wants:

  • Spare room for visiting friends or family.
  • A great coffee shop around the corner.
  • Garden or balcony – essential, or preferable?

Wants can be useful to help your estate agent identify potential properties, but keep an open mind. You never know what’s out there, so don’t limit yourself unnecessarily.

Costs to consider, before and after buying

Before you move in:

  • A mortgage lender will usually lend up to 90% of the purchase price, but you will need to put the rest in yourself.
  • Mortgage application and valuation fees.
  • Private survey or homebuyers report.
  • Unless you are a first time buyer, stamp duty is payable on all purchases over £125,000 – use our Stamp Duty Calculator for an indication of the likely amount payable. Remember Stamp Duty is charged at a higher rate for second properties.
  • Legal fees for your conveyancer, along with land registry fees and local authority searches.
  • Removals company.

After you move in:

  • Energy bills and any cable subscriptions.
  • Council tax.
  • Annual service charges and ground rents (in the case of apartments).
  • Buildings and contents insurance.
  • Maintenance contracts for alarms, appliances, etc.

Making an offer

  • Be clear about your buying position (eg. first time buyer; selling another property and already under offer; selling but not yet sold or not yet on the market; buying to let, etc).
  • Detail how much mortgage (if any) you are taking out, and how much you are putting in yourself.
  • Make sure your offer is reasonable and in line with what other properties are selling for. Beware of making unreasonably low offers! They will simply get negotiations off to a bad start.
  • Include any terms and conditions, timescales or items to be included within your offer.
  • Once your offer is accepted, you will need to instruct a solicitor to begin the legal process for you, and instruct your lender to carry out a valuation on the property.

Moving day

Moving day is busy, so make a checklist of jobs that need to be completed before and on the day, including:

  • Book a removal firm.
  • Redirect your post.
  • Tell your friends and family where you’re going.
  • Read the meters and inform utility companies.
  • Cancel any services or subscriptions (internet, cable TV, buildings and contents insurance, maintenance contracts, etc) at your old address and set up new ones at your new home.
  • Change the address on your TV License.
  • Inform the relevant local authorities that you’re moving for Council Tax purposes.