The home buying process explained
Before you start looking for a house, it is important to find out how much you can afford to borrow and if necessary get a mortgage Decision in Principle so you know that a mortgage will be available to you. We strongly recommend that you speak to a mortgage adviser who has access to the whole of the market and can tell you how much a lender may be prepared to lend to you.
At this point it would also be worth starting to get all your documentation together - the lender will normally need to see such things as identification, proof of income and proof of residence. If you have any doubts at all about your credit worthiness it would also be worth getting hold of your credit report.
If you are a home mover do not just assume that your present mortgage lender will be happy to lend to you again. Your lender's criteria will likely have changed since your original application and you may find your new application is declined irrespective of a perfect mortgage repayment history.
Finding a home
Most properties are sold through estate agents and can be identified through property websites such as Rightmove or Zoopla. Viewing suitable properties will take time so it is worth planning at outset what your budget will run to and what kind of house you ideally are looking for. Remember the location of your ideal home will affect its price. Remember too that properties are priced to attract interest and sellers are usually open to offers.
Viewing a property
It is important that you consider as many things as possible before putting in an offer. Have you researched the area? Consider visiting the place at different times (what might be a peaceful setting in the day, could turn out to be a noisy place at night). If possible speak to the local people to find out what it is like living in the area.
Is the property in a good state of repair? Look for obvious signs of potential problems as you go around the property. Try to establish how long it has been on the market as this may indicate the property is overpriced or has some problem not immediately obvious.
Making an offer
When you have found the right house and are sure that you would like to live there you need to put an offer. Do not be afraid to offer below the asking price, you may be surprised when your offer is accepted. Often before an offer is accepted, the estate agent may insist that you speak to their mortgage adviser. This is not compulsory and if you have a mortgage broker working on your behalf, they will reassure the agent that you are in a position to buy.
Resist being pressurised into seeing the agent's adviser as you may end up paying more for the property based upon your affordability. Remember, the estate agent is working on behalf of the seller, not the buyer!
Finally, if the offer is accepted, you may need to put down an initial deposit to secure it - although nowadays, it is uncommon. We suggest you speak with a conveyancing expert, and our mortgage advisers can recommend a reliable and competitively priced solicitor who will work on your behalf.
Progressing your mortgage application
Our mortgage adviser will help you find the mortgage most suitable to your circumstances and preferences. This involves a lengthy 'factfind' to ensure that you get the best possible advice. Our advisers can normally see you very quickly at our offices or at your home if preferred.
We will then submit your mortgage application to the lender and liaise with them, the estate agent, and your chosen solicitor as the application progresses.
Valuation and survey
You will need to get a valuation and survey carried out on the house you want to buy. A valuation will value the property and tell you how much it is worth, whilst a survey will tell you about the structure of the property and any faults that it may have. The lender will normally appoint a surveyor to value the property and you will usually be charged a valuation fee. This will normally be paid by card at the time of mortgage application.
When buying a property, you should instruct a solicitor to handle all the legal aspects relating to the transaction. It is important to pick a professional and reliable solicitor, as this will help speed up the process and avoid delays. If you do not have a solicitor in mind our adviser will get your quotations and help you choose the right one.
This is written by the seller's solicitor and sent to your solicitor. Your solicitor will then check the contract and view the information of the title deeds to ensure that the title to the property is satisfactory.
The mortgage offer
Once the lender is happy with your credit record, has confirmed your income and identity, and has received a satisfactory valuation, you will receive a formal Offer of Mortgage in writing. A copy will also be sent to your adviser and your solicitor. This will contain all of the terms and conditions and needs to be read thoroughly. Once signed and returned, your offer of mortgage is in place and you are ready to exchange contracts.
Exchange of contracts
The contract is signed by you and the seller. Your solicitor will now request deposit monies from you and this will be forwarded onto the vendor's solicitor. The completion date is then set. At exchange of contracts you are responsible for insuring the property and therefore must ensure you arrange buildings insurance cover. We can help you with this if required.
Mortgage completion and moving in day
This is typically a week after the exchange of contracts, depending on each party's situation and requirements. On completion day the legal ends are tied up and you can collect the keys from the estate agent and can move into your new home.