If you’re buying a property there’s a lot to think about. Consequently there are plenty of online guides out there to tell you what, when and how. Some describe the process, others the right questions to ask – whilst a handful tackle the whole kit-and-caboodle. Property purchase is a veritable labyrinth of things that can go wrong (or right). So, to save you the hassle of reading virtual reams, we’ve put together a quick-reference guide of the most important things you need to know.
Firstly, we’ll assume you’ve already got the funding and finance sorted. That’s a whole different labyrinth in itself, especially since new rules on mortgages which commenced last April.
Step 1 – Choosing the right property
Choosing a property is an exciting time, and – depending on how desperate or discerning your approach – can take between 6 weeks to 8 months. The best way is to begin by writing a shortlist of the essentials that you absolutely must have; number of bedrooms, garage, parking space, garden, separate kitchen (as opposed to a kitchen diner) etc. Then use the online property listings to see if your budget is enough to get what you want. If it isn’t then you might need to revise those essentials to a shortlist that you can afford.
With your affordable essentials determined make a second list of desirable things you’d like to have in your property. Not a crazy list of unrealistic things – like a subterranean extension – but things that are a bonus if you find a property that includes them. Use the tools on the popular online property search websites (for example Rightmove, Zoopla and Home) to find properties that you like the look of and meet your criteria – and arrange to view them.
Step 2 – Viewing properties
Once you’ve got a shortlist of properties you’d like to view (try and keep it to less than 6) aim to visit them all on one day and in relatively quick succession. Your initial visit is to form first impressions so you need the conditions (weather, daylight etc.) to be as similar as possible. Once you’ve discounted some from your list, the second viewing is the detailed test. Ask as many questions as you can about the infrastructure of each property, as well as some strategic bargaining stuff such as how long it has been on the market, are the vendors in a chain.
Step 3 – Making an Offer
If you’ve found the property of your dreams you’ll be wanting to make an offer. If you asked the right questions when you viewed it you’ll already have a feel for how much bargaining power you have. If it’s been on the market 8 months you’re much more likely to get a lower offer accepted, whilst if it has only been listed for 2 days you might want to get in quick, so make your offer close to the asking price.
Step – 4 – Conveyancing
From your offer being accepted through to exchanging contracts (the legal bit that transfers ownership of the property) and final completion (the day when you actually move in) it usually takes 2 to 6 weeks. Prepare for reality though. This is the bit that can throw up all sorts of issues and hiccups. It makes sense to choose an experienced Conveyancing Lawyer – preferably one who specialises solely in conveyancing. Not only will they know the right people (staff at the relevant Local Authority and land registry for example) but you can be confident they won’t be spreading their legal skills too thinly.
Step 5 – Exchange & Completion
Most people choose to complete (pick up the keys) within a couple of days of exchange (some choose to do it on the same day)> Once you’ve got your keys it’s move time. If you’re smart, you’ll have done a lot of the preparation beforehand – perhaps by having moved much of your stuff into a self storage staging post with us.