The following is a concise guide to the process of buying a house in England and the professionals you will need to use.
You can help yourself to lower the stress by following a few simple rules:-
Get an ‘in principle’ letter from your mortgage lender first.
Instruct a good solicitor.
Because of the ‘credit crunch’ securing a mortgage deal before you start looking for a new home is essential, for most people a mortgage is the biggest financial commitment. An ‘in principle’ letter is provided by the mortgage lender stating that they are prepared to lend a certain amount subject to approval of the property.
After deciding you are going to buy a new home and finding out how much you can afford, it is worth sitting down to consider what you would like from your new home. The following are all worth thinking about:-
Find out about the area you are intending to move to, remember you can change the house but not the neighbourhood so just because you can afford a bigger house in a not so nice area it might not be right for you. Consider yourself living in the area. Will you feel:-
Watch out for high crime areas or electrical substations nearby or a shared access. In addition check parking availability. Choose a property with a light and south/west aspect if possible.
Houses come in all shapes and sizes, but some are more suited to the way you live. Open plan living spaces are great for entertaining but if you need a quiet space which is easy to heat it is probably not for you. Traditional Victorian and Georgian buildings can offer fabulous spaces but are going to need more maintenance than a new build. Consider if this home is for life or just a stepping stone; it may be cheaper to extend than move again, is there space to build an extension on the side or in the attic? How many cars do you have; a double garage is so much easier than having to move one car out of the drive to get to the other behind it in the garage!
A few more important issues to consider when looking for your perfect home include:-
New homes are built to the latest building standards and benefit from a 10 year warranty. A new home will probably be better insulated and should require very little maintenance. You will always be at the end of the buying chain and if you part exchange there is no chain at all. You may also be able to specify your own features if you buy the house at an early state of construction.
New homes tend to be more expensive and have smaller rooms. They are also often closer to neighbouring properties. High density of most new estates usually restricts the number of parking spaces especially for visitors. Other issues include:-
House builders often place strict limits for exchanging contracts, usually from reservation to exchange in 28 days. If you already have a mortgage in principle letter and a solicitor this should be an easier process than buying an older property. You will need to make your selection of the builder’s options and extras as early as possible.
On or before the completion date your builder will give you a home demonstration, you should inspect your home for any defects.
After you move in if you have any problems you should follow the builders’ customer care procedure.
You must ask the builders the right questions before you sign the reservation form. House builders have a legal obligation not to make misleading or false statements. Ensure you ask about discounts, part exchange, the location of social housing, the completion date and what specifications and choices are available. Useful information includes the level of Council Tax, postal address and postcode and the site manager’s professional credentials, who is responsible for walls, fences and boundaries and any adjacent public spaces.
What is Conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the term used to describe the process of legal and administrative transfer of ownership of land and buildings from one owner to another. The process of Conveyancing starts after an offer has been accepted and the buyer and seller have exchanged solicitors’ details.
You can use a solicitor or licensed conveyancer or even do it yourself. But the risks and time involved usually outweigh the savings and the mortgage lender will usually insist on a solicitor performing the task.
The deeds are very important. Your solicitor should explain any unusual details within the deeds. They will detail any limitations, legal obligations or restrictions that come with the property such as not keeping chickens.
The title plan shows the following details:-
Neighbouring homes can share an access such as a driveway or the hall and stairs in flats. It also covers cases where access is gained to other property via your property. You should know details of any shared access including who is responsible for maintenance.
It is possible that some rights of way and footpaths can run across private property including gardens. It can be very costly to get a right of way removed.
The Title Deeds of new homes will contain restrictions, most of these are limited to the time until the development is fully constructed and sold. The restrictions can include parking commercial vehicles, caravans and trailer boats on the property. Alterations and extensions may not be permitted without written permission of the house builder.
Other restrictions have no time limit and can restrict land use, preventing for example the operation of a business from the property or erecting an extension. These can seriously damage the resale value of the property.
Before making an offer on a property ask a few questions:-
There is not a fixed price for properties. Savings can be made by using the right strategy during the negotiations. The opening offer is very important, usually it is a figure below the asking price depending on market conditions. The price may be adjusted later depending on the survey results.
If the purchase price is above £125,000.00 you will have to pay Stamp Duty. The amount varies depending on the purchase price.
There are a variety of factors to take into account when negotiating.
You can also improve your negotiating position by:-
Once the seller accepts your offer it has to be made formally in writing and subject to terms and conditions. Your offer will be ‘subject to contract and survey', this means that you are not legally bound to complete the sale until a satisfactory survey has been completed and signed contracts have been exchanged. Also specify the fixtures and fittings to be included and if applicable any work to be completed on the property. Request the property to be taken off the market to reduce the chances of gazumping.
Head of Conveyancing : Nicola has 14 years' experience working in conveyancing here at Dale & Co.. She is highly efficient with a meticulous approach and a keen eye for detail. As head of the Conveyancing department, Nicola will ensure a smooth and speedy service whether you are buying, selling, leasing, transferring equity, re-mortgaging, or just looking for advice. Nicola has an honours degree in Law and Finance from the University of Lincoln and a postgraduate diploma in Legal Practice from Nottingham Trent University.
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