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10 Step Guide to Buying a House

Whether you’re looking to purchase for the first time, relocating, upsizing, downsizing or investing in property, we can help you find the property that makes you feel at home, and support the entire home buying process. 

We get rid of the jargon to have clear, transparent conversations, allowing you to make informed decisions swiftly and easily. We have put this basic 10 step guide together to help ease your property journey, and our team at Alexander & Co are always on hand to help answer any questions you have and guide you along the journey.

1. Determine your budget

Buying a property is likely to be one of the largest purchases you will ever make, so it is important that your calculations are correct from the start and you understand what the real costs of buying a home are. You need to consider your income, savings and which mortgage is right for you. If you are selling a home in order to buy another, it is essential that you arrange an up to date market valuation from a local expert.

2. Select the right mortgage

Whether you are applying for your first mortgage, re-mortgaging. or securing a mortgage for an investment property, speaking to an expert in this field is essential, as they will guide you towards the right provider. Speaking to a financial adviser and obtaining an agreement in principle from your chosen lender will give you the confidence on your budget, and will show any owner of a property on the market that you are a serious buyer, and have done your homework.

3. Choosing your next home

Property websites have made the process of finding a new home easier than ever before. However, you may not be aware that some of the best properties with desirable locations, price or size sell before they are listed on the larger property portals.

We recommend getting to know the team at your local Alexander & Co branch, who will be happy to keep you up to date with properties that match what you are looking for and can help guide you through the different areas in the local towns and villages.

4. Viewing a property

Build up a better perspective of what the property is like to live in by visiting the property at different times of the day. You should look at things like which way the garden faces and the parking arrangements. Ask to the see the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), look up at roof and guttering, look at windows and ask what type of heating it is. There may also be guarantees in place based on work recently completed. Don’t forget to check what is being included in the sale, as kitchen appliances, carpets and curtains can often be left by the seller.

After the viewing, providing feedback to your estate agent will help them gain a stronger understanding of your wants and needs in order to find the best property for you.

5. Making an offer

Congratulations! You've found a property you want to buy. The next step is to reach an agreement with the seller on the price.

Think about this carefully, and consider any mortgage limitations, how the property compares with others you have seen, and how well it meets your requirements. You also need to think about other interested buyers and what would happen if your offer is not accepted.

There is a common misconception that you should not pay the asking price, but this very much depends on the property. There are lots of examples of properties selling at the asking price and, in some cases, going over the asking price where there has been interest from lots of buyers.

6. Arrange conveyancing

Conveyancing is the process by which the legal transfer of property from one person to another is made. You will need to instruct a solicitor/conveyancer, who will examine the legal documentation for the property and then raise questions in order to approve the contract of the sale. By appointing a conveyancer, once your offer has been accepted, the process of buying will be move more quickly; our team at Alexander & Co can help recommend a company to you, should you need help.
After your offer has been accepted, the estate agent will issue a memorandum of sale. This is a document sent to you and the seller of the property, as well as your solicitors/conveyancers, specifying all of the details of the agreed sale and the parties involved. The solicitors will then contact each other to start the process. They are there to advise and guide you through the process, explaining the paperwork and forms, and making sure that your purchase is as it should be.

7. Arrange a survey

There are three main types of survey: a Mortgage Valuation; a Homebuyer Report and a Building Survey.

If you are buying your new home with a mortgage, then your bank/building society will normally insist on a Mortgage Valuation to establish that the property is good security for the loan. The buyer will normally pay for the mortgage valuation but very rarely gets a copy of the report and, as such, we always recommended that you arrange your own survey as well.

A Homebuyer Report is ideal for more conventional residential property, built within the past 75 to 100 years. The report will include a detailed visual inspection of all aspects of the property that are available for inspection.

A Building Survey (also referred to as a full or structural survey) is suited to older properties, or properties which may have different forms of construction or undergone major changes. A detailed inspection of all visible areas of the property is undertaken.

8. Finalise mortgage & insurance requirements

Once a mortgage valuation has been completed, you will receive a formal mortgage offer from your lender in which the final details of the loan are confirmed. You and your solicitor/conveyancer should check this carefully. You may also be required to arrange life assurance to cover the loan and building insurance as you exchange contracts.

9. Exchange of contracts

The exchange of contracts is the legally binding part of the process. This is when you hand over a deposit (the normal sum or liability is 10% of the purchase price), which will need to be logged with your solicitor ahead of exchanging the contracts. Contracts are exchanged when you and the seller and your respective solicitors/conveyancers are satisfied that everything is in order. At this point, the date of completion is formalised so you can then finalise your move date and book your removal company. After the contracts have been exchanged, both parties are legally bound to complete the transaction

10. Completion

This is the final day of the process and the balance of the monies is transferred via the banking system. Most importantly, this is the day that you will get the keys to your new home. For most people, this is the day that they physically move into the property with all their furniture.

This is intended to help as a guide and help you through the basic process. Buying a new home can be a stressful and daunting time but the team at Alexander & Co are always on hand to help ease your property journey.