The home buying journey is usually travelled along a long and winding road. One of the key milestones in your search for your next property is to find one that meets your needs, make an offer and have it accepted. It’s a huge relief to have completed this step but don’t be in a hurry to mentally move in just yet. There are lots of things that need to happen before you get the keys to your new home. Below is a summary of the process that gets triggered once the sale has been agreed with the seller and the steps you now need to take.
1 – Ask the seller to cease marketing
The first thing you need to do is to ask the seller (or their estate agent) to take the property off the market and cancel any outstanding viewings. Make your offer conditional upon this happening straightaway. Estate agents have a legal duty to inform the seller of all offers made. As far as possible, you want to eliminate the possibility of anyone else making a higher offer and risk being gazumped.
2 – Contact your conveyancer
One of the first things that you will need to supply to the estate agent is the details of your property solicitor or licensed conveyancer who will act on your behalf to liaise with the seller and process the transfer of ownership through exchanging contracts and ultimately completing the sale. In order to avoid any delays, it’s a good idea to have done your research well in advance, obtained conveyancing quotes and chosen a good local solicitor, and put them on standby. Once your offer to buy has been accepted, contact your conveyancer and with the details of the property in question and let them know that they will shortly be hearing from the other side.
3 – Contact your lender
Estate agents typically require buyers to have a mortgage agreement in principle before they are willing to accept your offer. That said, an in-principle decision is not the same as an approved loan. Once you have secured the property, contact your mortgage company straight away with the details of the property in question. The lender will need to carry out their own mortgage valuation to ensure the property is worth the price you’ve agreed to pay before they can approve the mortgage. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or already have a mortgage on a property you’re selling, it’s vital to have a good channel of communication with the lender and obtain clear advice to ensure you are meeting all the criteria.
4 – Book a survey
The lender will conduct a mortgage valuation for the property, but this is for their own benefit, not for yours. Only an independent survey carried out by a RICS surveyor will give you an honest professional view of the property’s true condition. This is your opportunity to do your own due diligence, making sure that the asset constitutes a good investment. At Able Surveyors, we can advise on the right choice of survey for your needs and provide you with a competitive quote. Our experienced surveyors are experts in the field, able to spot potentially serious building defects such as damp, timber decay and subsidence. There are many issues that the untrained eye may not recognise but that could have a material impact on the price you’re willing to pay, or your desire to purchase at all.
5 – Work towards exchanging contracts
Your solicitor will start preparing the draft contract as soon as they have been instructed. This will include key information including the agreed price, the level of deposit, dates for exchange and completion, and which fixtures and fittings are included – all of which have to be agreed with the other side. This process takes time, and delays and problems can arise, which make this one of the most stressful stages in the house buying process. What’s more, your conveyancer will need to complete a range of important checks and searches including local authority searches, environmental searches, title searches and more. These can also take time to be completed, and potentially throw up unexpected issues.
6 – Exchange of contracts
Once all legal steps and checks have been completed, pre-contract enquiries answered to everyone’s satisfaction and outstanding issues resolved for both parties, the solicitors will indicate that they are ready to exchange contracts. This is the point at which the deposit is paid and the transaction becomes legally binding. At any point before contracts are exchanged, you or the seller have the option to have a change of heart and withdraw from the deal. It can be hugely frustrating when a seller suddenly pulls out leaving you without a property to buy. Conversely, it can also be a relief to be able to step away from buying a property when ‘dealbreaker’ problems are discovered.
7 – Completion
When contracts are exchanged, the date of completion will have been fixed, so you now know when you will be able to move. The countdown has begun! Make sure that you have a removal company lined up for the date you wish to move, and are ready to start packing. On the day of completion, the outstanding funds will be transferred to the seller’s client account and you will be able to collect the keys to your new home. Any mortgage account fees, legal fees and Stamp Duty will now also become payable. Finally, your conveyancer will register the transfer of ownership with the Land Registry.
Get in touch
At Able Surveyors, our experienced team of RICS Chartered Surveyors has been serving property buyers in London and Essex for over 25 years. If you are looking for valuable impartial advice at competitive rates, we would be delighted to help. Contact our friendly team to discuss your next home purchase today.