Buying Guide

Our quick and easy guide to buying a property

Step 1 – Working out what you can afford

No one wants to be saddled with a hefty mortgage that you’ll struggle to pay. So before you start the property buying process, think about what you can comfortably afford every month and then stick to it. Also consider the other fees involved when buying a property including mortgage arrangement fees, valuation fee, legal fees, stamp duty, surveys and removal costs. Not sure how much these will be? We'll be happy to talk you through them.

Step 2 – Getting your finances in place

It's frustrating finding the perfect property and then discovering that you’re unable to borrow the funds to finance the purchase. So it's worth getting your finances in order before you start your property search. Although most lenders won’t offer an actual mortgage unless there’s a property you want to buy, they do offer what’s known as a mortgage in principle (MIP). An MIP will let you know what you can borrow. Plus, having a provisional mortgage in place will make you a more attractive proposition to sellers and put you in a stronger negotiating position.

Step 3 – Thinking about your ideal home

How many bedrooms do you need? How many bathrooms? Do you want a new build that you can just move straight into? Or are you after a property you can renovate? Do you need space to work from home? Or do you need transport links on your doorstep for the daily commute? What’s more important to you: the property or the location? Before you start searching, have a think about those features you’re willing to compromise on - and those you’re not.

Step 4 – Registering your interest

Buying a property has never been more competitive. By registering with us you’ll be the first to know, via email, when suitable properties come on to the market. You can also browse all the properties we currently have for sale. Take a look at the images and floor plans. And view the property on Google Maps too. This will give you a good idea about the surrounding amenities if you’re not familiar with the area. Seen something you like? Get in touch and we’ll arrange a viewing.

Step 5 – Having a successful viewing

Some estate agents give you just a few minutes to look around a property. At Property Options we think you should take as long as you like. After all, this is probably the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. If you’re viewing lots of properties, they can quickly blur into one another. So take photographs on your smartphone as you walk around and this will help you remember each property. It's also worth viewing a property at different times of the day. A Wednesday evening during rush hour will be different to a Saturday afternoon.

Step 6 – Asking the right questions

It's easy to let your heart rule your head when it comes to property searching. But it’s important to ask the right questions before you put in an offer such as: what are the service charges and the length of the lease (if applicable), what tax band is it in, and what are the neighbours like? Check out how old the boiler is, ask what’s included in the sale, and enquire about the length of the chain. If we have the answers to these questions we’ll let you know. And if not, we’ll find out for you.

Step 7 – Making an offer

If you’re ready to put in an offer, let us know and we’ll handle every aspect of the negotiations for you. The fact you’re a first time buyer, or you’re not in a chain, or you have your finances in place, will all go in your favour with the seller, as the sale is likely to go through more quickly. This may mean we can negotiate a better purchase price for you. And as we know both you and the seller, and we have a thorough understanding of the market, we’ll ensure you pay a fair price for the property.

Step 8 - Instructing your solicitor

Once your offer is accepted you will need to instruct your solicitor to start the purchase process. If you haven't got a solicitor we can recommend one for you. Your solicitor will send a questionnaire to the seller including questions about fixtures and fittings. You will also need to firm up your mortgage offer, and send across all your paperwork to your lender including payslips, bank statements, and your ID.

Step 9 - Arranging a survey

Your mortgage lender will arrange for a valuation to be carried out. This is a basic survey though and will only confirm how much the property is worth. If you’re buying an older property or you’re planning on carrying out extensive renovations, it’s useful to have a full structural survey done. We can recommend a surveyor who can do this for you. If the survey throws up any major issues, we can help renegotiate the price for you and get a quote for the works that need doing.

Step 10 - Exchanging contracts

Once the surveys have been done, the mortgage is in place, and your solicitor has completed all the relevant searches, they will draw up contracts for you and the seller to exchange. At this point you are legally committed to buying the property. You will also be asked to pay the deposit, which is usually around 10% of the cost of the property.

Step 11 – Buying buildings insurance

If you’re buying a freehold property (most houses), you’ll need to buy buildings insurance before the completion date. Buildings insurance covers the structure of the property such as the walls, windows and floors, as well as permanent fixtures including the bath and the kitchen sink. If you’re buying a leasehold property (most flats and apartments), the buildings insurance may already be included in your management fee. Your solicitor will be able to tell you.

Step 12 – Completing and moving in

Completion day is when your solicitor lets you know your mortgage lender has paid the seller’s solicitors. This is usually a couple of weeks after you’ve exchanged contracts but can be the same day. The good news is that you can now collect the keys and move into your new home. Or if you’ve bought the property as a buy to let, we can organise a tenant for you.

You’ve bought your property. Congratulations.