Homebuying process

Where do you start, and what exactly goes on? The Mix takes you through the process of buying a house.

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The steps towards finally buying your own furniture

You’ve been saving like mad and now have enough money to put down as a deposit – at least 10%. But what happens next? Here’s what you need to do before you devote your weekends to house hunting.

What to do before you buy a house…

  • Agree a mortgage in principle with a lender — this is an indicator (although not a guarantee) that you’ll be lent the stated funds.
  • Register with local estate agents and a whole host of property websites, such as Rightmove and PrimeLocation, and start looking at properties.
  • Find a solicitor. It’s a good idea to use a local company – preferably one that specialises in property – so that you can go into the office if you need to. You can search for a solicitor using these criteria on the Law Society’s website. Don’t be afraid to negotiate a fixed price upfront for the legal work – however, bear in mind this could change if your solicitor runs into unforeseen complications.
  • When you find a place you like, make an offer through the estate agent.

Once your offer’s been accepted…

  • Ask for the property to be taken off the market. The vendors aren’t obliged, however, until your mortgage is in place and you’re deemed ‘proceedable’.
  • Your solicitor obtains the deeds to the property and starts contract paperwork.
  • Arrange a survey to be carried out on the property. The lender’s valuation (which you’ll usually have to pay for) is not a survey – it simply verifies to the lender that the property’s worth the asking price. It’s advisable to have your own survey carried out by a chartered surveyor. Our article on unexpected costs explains the different types of survey.
  • If the lender’s valuation comes back satisfactorily it will agree to your mortgage.
  • Survey report goes to the solicitor, who checks survey, organises a local search, finalises contract, and confirms the mortgage with the lender.
  • Give deposit to solicitor, who holds it for you.
  • Exchange of contracts and deposit between solicitors, and agreement on completion date. The timeframe between exchange and completion can be any amount of time that all parties agree on – even the same day.
  • Sign transfer deeds (formal document that authorises the transfer of ownership) prepared by solicitor.
  • Mortgage money transferred via the solicitor. You then get the transfer deeds, Land Registry certificate, and the keys (sometimes called completion).
  • Move into your new home.
  • Solicitor gets deeds stamped, pays stamp duty, and passes the title deeds (legal document that state who owns the property) to the mortgage lender.

You receive a solicitor’s bill, which will include legal fees, stamp duty and land registry.

Photo of graffiti by volunteer photographer Jeff Arris

Next Steps

  • Shelter's advice website for young people offers help with housing problems and a free helpline 0808 800 4444. If you're in Scotland, use http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/ instead.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.




Updated on 29-Sep-2015