Even for the most experienced homeowners, buying a house is a huge undertaking. There’s a lot to organise when you buy a house. You need to find the right property, apply for a mortgage, make an offer, instruct a solicitor, get a valuation, exchange contracts and more. A lot of the different stages are carried out by either your mortgage broker, solicitor or lender – but it’s the biggest purchase you’ll probably make, so it’s important you understand what’s going on. The following outlines some common aspects:
Once you’ve decided on potential areas and chosen your property type, contact as many local estate agents and register as a potential buyer. You can ask them to send you regular details of suitable properties on their books. It’s also worth calling your estate agent weekly to ensure you get an early look at properties that have only just been placed on the market.
It’s also useful to carry out at some independent online research if you’re looking in a competitive area. Looking at several properties can be useful but may equally add additional anxiety – so try to be clear on what you are looking for and think about the good/bad points.
Maybe you’re moving for a new job, or your tenancy is coming to the end. Whatever the case, you should ask your estate agent about move in dates early on; you don’t want to lose out because of an unforeseen timing conflict.
This might seem trivial, but it can have a huge impact on its temperature throughout the year.
Your choice of solicitor isn’t normally an issue for most lenders, but it’s beneficial to check whether your solicitor is registered and recognised by one of the following agencies before you hire them. Lenders almost always require legal firms to have at least 2 partners, as one partner must act on your behalf and the other partner must act for the lender.
Assuming everything goes smoothly – the seller will accept your offer. It’s better if you already have a DIP (Decision in Principle) from a mortgage lender as this shows the seller you’re prepared and demonstrates that you can afford the property. The estate agent will confirm the seller’s acceptance in writing, called the Memorandum of Sale. The acceptance of your offer is not legally binding until you and the seller exchange contracts.
If a survey reveals serious problems, such as subsidence or rot, you’re free to withdraw your offer as you haven’t exchanged contracts yet. In situations where the problems can be fixed, you’re sometimes able to negotiate a lower price to compensate you for any expenses involved or the vendor can get them fixed prior to completion – preferably prior to the exchange of contracts.
With funds, the chance of losing your money or making a big profit depends on the mix of different investments in the fund.
A way to spread your risks is to choose a range of different ‘Asset classes’.
For example, choosing a fund that invests in a mix of:
Fees and charges can reduce your investment earnings. When you invest directly, you usually have to pay dealing charges.
Look at the Ongoing Charges Figure (OCF). This aims to allow a direct comparison of costs.
There are 3 levels of survey:
You have to put down a deposit at the point of exchange. There are sometimes alternative arrangements if you’re selling your house and buying another, and all the deposit is coming from the equity in the property you’re selling. In this case, the solicitors will come to an arrangement where there is some consequence should a party pull out after exchange.
You also need to make sure that the building is insured, as you’re now legally obliged to buy it. Your solicitor will likely guide you through this part.
Your solicitor will deliver your signed contract to the seller’s solicitor and you’ll receive a copy of the version that the seller has signed. From this point onward, both you and the seller are legally committed to the deal.
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