What is the process of buying a house?
The actual process of buying a house consists of seven key stages and working through these various stages can range from weeks to months.
- Finding your ideal property
Finding an available property that meets your exact requirements, in a suitable location and one that matches your budget is not an easy task. Go to as many house viewings as you can to get an idea of the range of property on offer and what particular features work for you. Key tip – Drive by the property at different times of the day and the week to get a feel of the area.
- Arranging your mortgage
A key next stage is to make sure you have suitable mortgage or financial arrangements in place to fund the purchase of your chosen property. You need to consider how much of a deposit you have to put down and how much of the remaining balance needs financing and over what term. Being fully prepared means having your mortgage agreed in principle and if you have an existing property to sell, knowing what funds you will have available to help finance your new home once that property has been sold. Key tip – Speak to us at the outset to get a full idea of costs involved, we can recommend advisers and surveyors.
- Making an offer
Once you’re happy with your choice of property, the next stage is to put in a formal offer. This is usually communicated to the seller through the estate agent. Remember, the seller may receive other offers and is under no obligation to accept your offer at this stage. Your estate agent will keep you updated with progress and feedback from the seller. It is at this stage that there may be some negotiation over the selling price. Key tip – Don’t be scared to make an offer which is less than the asking price.
- Choosing your conveyancing solicitor
Once your offer has been accepted, you will need to act swiftly and appoint the services of an experienced, local conveyancing solicitor to move forward. Your chosen solicitor will contact all parties directly to formally register your interest and intentions. The solicitors will also conduct the relevant searches to establish that the seller does, in fact, own the property outright and that there are no encumbrances or barriers to the sale i.e. if there are any other third parties involved - family members, ex-spouses/partners, siblings - that may be entitled to a claim over the property and that there are no other outstanding debts against the property. Key tip – Go with your instinct you have to work with your conveyancer to get your outcome, so if they are approachable and friendly it will make the process easier.
- Joining a ‘chain’
Your new home completion date will often have to coincide exactly with the sale and purchase of other properties in the ‘chain’ which can involve two, three or more properties. Longer chains involve multiple parties and their legal representatives staying in touch throughout the process to ensure each party completes. If any link in the chain breaks, the whole process can take longer to complete. Key tip – If the seller tells you they will move out do not take this as binding. Individual circumstances can change, and it can be frustrating when you are told later down the line they are waiting for their onward purchase.
- Searches and ‘Exchange of Contracts’
After reviewing all the documents involved from the surveys and searches to the house deeds, the solicitor will report to you on the title to the property. Once you are happy to proceed, they’ll proceed to fix a date for the exchange of contracts and completing the purchase. Exchanging contracts is the final action of the transaction before you get your keys. Everyone involved – the seller and their respective conveyancing solicitors – are all satisfied that there are no obstructions to completing the purchase and it will proceed as planned.
- Completing the sale
All that remains is to authorise the release of funds from your conveyancing solicitor’s client account and the sale will be complete. Time to collect the keys and move in!
How long does a house purchase take?
It is difficult to give you a precise timescale in respect of your transaction as there are matters which are outside of our control, such as dealing with third parties. However, we would expect the conveyancing for the purchase of a home to take between 6 and 12 weeks. We will however, keep you advised throughout the matter and inform you of any delays or difficulties arising.