Whether it’s a buy-to-let property or a place to call home, a house is probably the most expensive thing you will ever buy. That probably goes some way towards explaining why it can also be one of the most stressful experiences of your life. But what is the process? Who is involved? And how long does it take? In this article, MoneyBlog takes a look…
Step #1: Find Some Houses
Most people start their house search on Rightmove, the leading property website in the UK. Rightmove has some brilliant tools to save you lots of time with your search. You can be extremely specific with your criteria, searching by area, by price range, number of bedrooms, property type, and even things like off street parking, having a garden and the distance from transport links.
To learn more about how to be a Rightmove ninja, check out our article on the subject.
Set your search criteria to what you want and get a short list of some properties that suit your purpose.
You can also use Google Street View to have a closer look at the surrounding area without leaving your sofa. Sometimes this can help you remove some properties from your short list without having to spend time and money visiting them.
Step #2: View The Property
The next step is to view the property. Rightmove has a ‘Call Agent’ button on their app, whch will dial you directly through to the agent. Tell the agent that you’d like to book a viewing.
Turn up at the viewing appointment and have a look around the property. Make sure everything is in a good state of repair. Check everything works. If you still like it, keep it on your short list. If your viewing lead to the discovery of a deal-breaker, it gets struck from the list.
Try not to get emotionally connected to a property.
Step #3: Putting In An Offer
If the house passed the viewing test, it’s time to put in an offer. Depending on how fast the market is moving at the time you are buying, it can be good to play it cool and take it easy with this one.
Rushing in to put in an offer may not be the best thing to do. How you put in the offer says as much about you as the offer that you put in.
Step #4: Seller Accepts Your Offer
Normally, the agent will submit your offer to the seller and it’s up to them whether they accept or not. If your offer is accepted, this is where agents can sometimes start to play dirty tricks. If the offer is not accepted, or gets outbid, refer back to step 3, you could put in another offer until your offer is accepted. That’s up to you.
If your offer is accepted, ask the agent to take the property off the market. If they don’t, somebody else can come in and outbid you even though your offer was accepted.
Agents may tell you to get a solicitor while the property is still on the market. This is not a good idea because solicitor contracts state that they get their fees whether the sale falls through or not. Which means you’ll end up out of pocket should another buyer outbid you.
An agent will usually request proof of funds or a mortgage in principle before taking the property off the market.
Do not instruct your solicitor until the property is off the market.
Step #5: Instruct Your Solicitor
Once the property is off the market, it’s time to instruct your solicitor, which is a posh way of saying, hire a solicitor. Find some solicitors from Google, or that friend of your mum’s or whatever, and ask them what they charge for conveyancing. If you’re happy, go ahead.
They’ll send you a contract which states that they get their conveyancing fee even if the property sale falls through. You have no choice but to sign if you wish to go ahead, but this is why we mitigated against this risk in the last step.
Solicitors are not particularly quick with conveyancing. Some property investors joke that solicitors have two speeds: slow and very slow. It is usually necessary to keep calling them up every few days to ask how things are going, especially if you’re buying in a fast moving market.
Step #6: Exchange of Contracts
All that’s left for you to do now is sign a few papers and hand over the money. You’ll be asked to exchange contracts. This is the point of no return at which you are and the seller are both legally obliged to complete the sale.
Step #7: Completion
This is when you get the keys. Your solicitor should sort out all the paperwork and pay the stamp duty to the government, if you owe it.
Step #8: Land Registry Deed Completed
The land registry document that officially says you own the property can take up to 6 months to come through. It may be necessary to keep pestering your solicitor to make sure this happens.