Get your finances in order!
Before you start to think about buying a property, you need to know how much you have available to spend.
This means speaking with a mortgage adviser and discussing how much you are able to borrow. If you don’t have a mortgage adviser we recommend speaking to an independent broker who has access to mortgage products from the whole of the market – we can introduce you to some great local, independent advisers.
Remember to allocate money for removals, legal fees and stamp duty in your budget, and renovations if they’re needed.
Many advisors will give you a Decision In Principle or something similar – you’ll be asked to provide these when you offer on a property, together with your proof of funds.
If your deposit is coming from the sale of another property, one great tip is to also get proof of your outstanding mortgage. When we check the chain with the estate agent that you have sold through, we can then work out your equity and provide as proof to our vendor.
The best buyers are usually able to proceed really quickly – so you’ll be in a much better position if you’ve got your ducks in a row.
Once you know your budget you can register with local agents and start to look for properties in the area. That way, you’re on our radar and if we find any properties that match your criteria we will send you the details.
Our Maghull office is open 6 days a week and we’re happy to take registrations by phone or in the office.
If there is a property that really tickles your fancy then please call the office on 0151 804 4303 to arrange a viewing.
A TOP TIP is to actually go and visit an Estate Agents Office (like ours!) – it is a lot easier for an Estate Agent to remember you if they’ve met you and it might be the thing that makes them call you before they market a property.
Find a solicitor
Getting a solicitor lined up before you make an offer on a property saves time and looks to any potential seller that you mean business. Their job is to complete the ‘conveyancing’ process, which is all the legal work that goes on behind the scenes when you purchase a property.
This can be the difference between a smooth transaction and a long, painful process. Many people think selling houses is money for old rope, simply taking some photos and throwing a property on Rightmove – but managing this sale is where agents really earn their fees!
We ONLY recommend local solicitors and are happy to recommend a good solicitor to you, but if you’re looking for your own then our TOP TIP is to not just rely on reputation – solicitors move firms, so try and get personal recommendations and always read the reviews.
Making an offer
When you do find that dream property, you need to speak to us as early as possible about your position and the vendor's requirements. From there, you can offer a figure you feel comfortable with.
We will put your offer and proposed timescales forward, and we will want to check that you are able to fund the purchase of the property. If you have followed our advice, you’ll have arranged your finance already and we’ll be able to put your offer forward to our vendor in the best light possible.
Once we have your offer and proof of your financial arrangements, we will negotiate an agreement between you and the seller. This is called a ‘Memorandum of Sale’ and we will send this through to yourself, the seller and both sets of solicitors which will form part of the Draft Contract. We will also forward the solicitors the property particulars (brochure) and the full Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
If there are things to be included within the sale (cooker, white goods etc) these will be stated on the Memorandum of Sale as well as any proposed timescales.
Because we are working on behalf of the seller, we are obliged to maximise the value we achieve for their property. But you won’t get a rough deal from us. Good advice to you from us will help ensure the sale, and both parties must be happy with the agreement, and the mortgage provider will only agree if the price is reasonable and can be backed up by comparable properties which have Sold recently close-by.
The legal process of buying and selling a property is such in England and Wales that an offer is not legally binding until contracts have been exchanged, which can be several weeks later. Please bear this in mind, as it gives room for either party to pull out of the deal – and you may still be liable for your solicitor’s costs up to that point. Our job is of course to make sure that both parties are as secure as possible to make sure that the property goes through to exchange of purchase as smoothly as possible.
Your mortgage lender - if you have one - will arrange a survey of the property to ensure that the price you are offering is realistic for their loan to you.
This will usually be a valuation report but you can upgrade to a Homebuyers Report which gives more detail on the condition of the property – usually at an added cost. You won’t usually receive a valuation survey but if you have upgraded and have received a Homebuyers, please bear in mind that this is a document that will point out the property's tiniest defects and flaws. These are often not of any significance but can come as quite a shock.
If you want to go through the survey with us then we are more than happy to. If there are sections that need further investigation we can liaise with the seller and contractors to arrange a time for any quotes to be gathered. If there is anything adverse found after this, we are happy to negotiate further with the seller.
The mortgage offer
Your mortgage lender will issue a mortgage offer to your solicitor when they receive the surveyor’s report, and they are satisfied that the valuation is realistic given the amount they are lending. This sometimes will be sent to your mortgage advisor and forwarded to your solicitor.
The exchange of contracts is an important moment, as this marks the point when the sale/purchase becomes legally binding for both parties.
Exchange can only take place once your deposit has cleared your solicitor’s Client Account. Usually, this is 5 or 10% of the purchase price, but you may not need to actually ‘pay’ the deposit if you have proceeds from selling a property. This will be taken into account, minus any outstanding mortgage debt.
No actual paper changes hands at this point – Exchange is usually a phone conversation between the two sets of solicitors, when they agree that they can ‘exchange contracts’.
Once it has happened, you will be notified, as will we. You can’t exchange without a completion date being set and all parties involved have agreed.
The moment your property purchase is finalised is called ‘completion’, and usually comes a week or two after exchange. Your mortgage lender and solicitor will transfer the outstanding balance to the seller’s solicitor.
When the money has cleared their account, your solicitor will be in touch with you and us or the agent you are buying through will be told that they can release the keys to you.
This is the legal point when the property is actually in your ownership (or in your care until you have paid the mortgage off!).
You’ll still have a lot of work to do to unload your belongings but this is the point at which you get to open the champagne, or make a nice cuppa, if that’s more your style!
Don’t forget to read those meters once you have entered and if things change and you need to move, don’t forget to call us as we’d love to have the chance to market.