Buying a home is an exciting prospect but it can be difficult, even if you’ve purchased a property before.
Of course, if you are buying your first home, it is likely you will feel overwhelmed with the process so make sure you get as much help as you can.
At Trinity Finance, we are here to assist you throughout the home-buying process to make it as easy as possible.
Choosing your perfect property
There are lots of things to consider when beginning your property search. When deciding which area you want to live in, research these points:
- What is the area like — does it have large open spaces and quiet roads or is it built-up with lots of traffic?
- Check the transport links — find out how long it will take you to commute to work and do the school run.
- Find out what the local schools are like.
- Check what amenities are located in the local neighbourhood.
Before viewing properties, think about these factors:
- Do you prefer to live in a house or a flat?
- Are you looking for a new-build property or an older style?
- How many bedrooms do you need?
- Is having a garden important to you?
- What is the parking like — does the property have a garage or a driveway or is on-street parking available?
- Can you extend the property or convert part of it, such as the loft, to create more space?
- Can you afford it? Make sure you have calculated what you can comfortably afford so that your finances aren’t overstretched. A larger property may be tempting but bear in mind that it won’t only be dearer to buy but more expensive to maintain. You also need to pay higher council tax for a larger property so be aware of the total cost of buying a home before arranging viewings.
When viewing properties, check the general condition and keep an eye out for signs of damp or cracks in the walls. Look at the boiler, turn on the taps and check the windows and flooring. A survey will highlight any issues but it’s best to be aware of any problems as soon as possible.
A second viewing is recommended to be completely sure before making an offer. You are also more likely to notice things that you missed during your first viewing.
Make an offer
When you’ve found a home you like, it’s time to make an offer to the seller. This is usually done via the estate agent. Don’t be afraid to offer lower than the asking price because your negotiations can start from there. Before making an offer, consider these points:
- What fixtures and fittings are included?
- Is it leasehold? If so, find out what the ground rent and service charges are.
- How much is the property worth? Research how much similar properties have sold for in the surrounding area.
- What is your price limit? The asking price may fall within your budget but you need to account for any works that have to be carried out.
- Are there other interested parties? Find out if the seller has already received offers or if the estate agent is aware of other buyers who are interested in making an offer.
- How appealing are you as a buyer? Are you a cash buyer or do you have a mortgage in principle? Are you a first-time buyer, are you selling your current home or have you already sold it?
- What is the seller’s position? Can the seller ensure a quick sale or is a chain involved?
Once your offer has been accepted, you will receive confirmation in writing and can instruct your solicitor to begin the conveyancing process. You can also instruct a surveyor and go ahead with your formal mortgage application. Bear in mind that your offer is not legally binding until the exchange of contracts.
Beware of gazumping
Gazumping occurs when the seller rejects your offer – having previously accepted it – in favour of a higher offer received from another party. Unfortunately, gazumping is legal and you may be gazumped at any point before the exchange of contracts, which is when your purchase becomes legally binding. Depending on how far you have got through the home-buying process, you could be severely out of pocket and end up being back at square one having to look for another property.
Whilst a higher offer is usually a reason for gazumping, it could be that another buyer is in a more attractive position than you. For example, you may be in a chain that’s not progressing very quickly or are taking a long time to move forward with your mortgage. You can try to prevent gazumping from occurring by being prepared before you make an offer, asking the seller to withdraw the property from the market, acting quickly throughout the home-buying process and taking out insurance.
Proceed with your formal mortgage application
For your formal mortgage application, you will need to provide documentation that includes:
- Proof of ID, such as your driving licence or passport
- Proof of your address, which can be a council tax bill, utility bill or credit card bill, etc.
- The last 3 to 6 months of bank statements, depending on the lender
- Proof of your deposit, such as statements from a savings account. If someone is gifting you the deposit, you will need to provide a gift letter.
- If you’re employed — the latest P60 and at least the last 3 months’ payslips
- If you’re self-employed — the last 2 to 3 years of certified accounts, SA302s and tax year overviews
- If you receive a pension income — your pension statement or pension payslips
Our expert mortgage brokers, located throughout Kent, London and Edinburgh, are available to assist you with this. We will provide you with a dedicated mortgage consultant who can help you to prepare the paperwork for your mortgage application. This ensures it meets the lender’s requirements and avoids any unnecessary delays. Simply call us on 01322 907 000 to get started or send an enquiry to us via our contact form and one of our mortgage specialists will reply to you as quickly as possible.
Choosing a solicitor
You need to appoint a solicitor to carry out the conveyancing work for your property purchase. The conveyancing process begins after you have had an offer accepted on a property and can take about 12 to 16 weeks. Whilst this may seem like a long time, it’s vital that the legal work is carried out correctly to protect your interests when buying your new home. Your solicitor will perform tasks that include:
- Checking the draft contract and raising enquiries with the solicitor representing the seller
- Carrying out the legal property searches, which include the local authority searches and Land Registry documentation, among others
- Checking the conditions of your mortgage offer
- Handling the exchange of contracts
- Completing the transaction
- Paying any stamp duty that is due
- Registering the change of ownership with the Land Registry
Instruct a surveyor
A surveyor assesses the condition of the property and the report is more in-depth than the basic valuation your lender will carry out before offering you a mortgage. Although it’s an extra expense, we strongly recommend you have a survey done as it will provide you with information about any structural damage or potential issues that you need to consider when proceeding with your purchase. Ensure the surveyor is a member of a professional body, such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The main property surveys to choose from include:
- A condition report — this is a basic survey that summarises the property’s condition and is conducted at a superficial level.
- A homebuyer report — this is more in-depth and is non-intrusive. The surveyor checks the soundness of the property, noting any major defects and works that may need to be addressed in the future.
- A building survey — this is the most in-depth survey and the most expensive. Also known as a full structural survey, the surveyor checks the structure and condition of the property as well as the materials used. Details are provided of repairs that need to be carried out along with the costs and timings involved.
- A snagging survey — this basic survey is only needed if you’re buying a new-build property or one that has just been renovated. It ensures there are no outstanding issues to be dealt with. For example, the surveyor can check that the doors open and close correctly and that the surfaces are all flat.
If the survey highlights any significant issues, you are entitled to ask the seller to rectify them before you purchase the property or to renegotiate the price. Alternatively, you can withdraw your offer altogether.
The exchange of contracts
When you’re happy with the survey and legal searches, your lender has approved your mortgage, there are no outstanding issues and a completion date has been agreed, you can go ahead with the exchange of contracts. This is when you sign the contract and your solicitor swaps it with the signed contract from the seller’s solicitor. At this point, you need to have buildings insurance in place and pay your deposit. We can arrange the buildings insurance for you if you don’t already have an insurance company to use.
Don’t overlook the importance of checking that everything is correct and there are no outstanding issues before the contracts are exchanged. Once this happens, you are legally committed to the transaction.
When you have exchanged contracts, you can look forward to the completion day. Make arrangements to move your belongings into your new home, whether that involves a removals firm or hiring a van to move everything yourself. Contact the utility suppliers and inform them of the move, arrange for meter readings to be taken and organise a mail redirection service.
Completing the process and moving in
Completion usually takes place about 2 weeks after the exchange of contracts but it can be done on the same day if necessary. For completion, your solicitor will transfer the remaining funds to the seller’s solicitor and you need to settle any outstanding mortgage and legal fees. When that’s been done, you can then collect the keys to your new home — congratulations!
Afterwards, your solicitor will register the transaction with the Land Registry for the change of ownership and any stamp duty that is due will be paid. Be sure to notify important bodies of your new address, such as the local council, your doctor, DVLA, your bank, your insurance company, your telephone and Internet providers, your vet, etc. We also recommend that you take out home contents insurance to protect your belongings. Our professional financial advisers can arrange this for you as well as the buildings insurance if you prefer.
When you have moved into your new home, make sure that all of the important documentation regarding the property has been collected and stored in a safe place. These documents will be important for the next time you move home.
We can help you with the home-buying process
At Trinity Finance, we aim to make the home-buying process a straightforward one. We understand that it can seem challenging and your dedicated mortgage consultant will assist you throughout each stage to ensure it runs smoothly.
Just give us a call on 01322 907 000 when you’re ready to begin or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our qualified mortgage brokers, located throughout Kent, London and Edinburgh, have a wealth of knowledge and expertise that can help to guide you effortlessly through the process of buying your new home. As well as helping you to prepare for your mortgage application, your mortgage adviser can find the best mortgage deal to suit your needs and ensure your application is submitted correctly.
Our financial consultants can also arrange your insurance cover, offer advice on which survey is best for the type of property you are buying and recommend a solicitor to handle your transaction. We provide a tailor-made service and strive to ensure your home-buying experience is stress-free. That way, you can sit back, relax and look forward to collecting the keys to your new home.