How to get started on the property ladder – STEP 2 – understanding the process and timelines

Knowing the end to end process of house buying and having an understanding of the approximate timelines is invaluable in ensuring a successful and stress-free property purchase.

The timelines for purchasing a house can vary anywhere between a few weeks and many months, but below is a typical timeline for standard house purchases in England.

  1. Find the property you want

First things first, finding the property of your dreams can take time. This is not something to rush, and spending the time reviewing Rightmove and Zoopla can be be really beneficial for getting an idea of what you can get for your money.

I usually suggest having a rough idea of how much you will be able to spend on the house, so that you can narrow down the search and dont spend too much time dreaming about houses that are out of your price range!

Love at first sight – our first home in London

2. Making an offer & being accepted

Once you have found a property you like, the next stage is to make an offer to the seller. There can often be a bit of backwards and forwards at this stage, and its worth taking the time to really think about how much you are willing to spend. Its easy to get drawn into a bidding war on a property you have set your heart on, so keep an overall total in mind and stick to it!

If the seller is happy, then they will accept your offer. This is the first step in the process, and now the house purchase process can begin.

3. Get your mortgage application completed

The first stage is to get your mortgage application started. In some cases, you may have received an agreement in principle if you approached your banks while you were still looking for properties, but these are usually only valid for 30 or 90 days, so it might have expired.

Either way, now is the time to complete your mortgage application. This can be done by approaching banks directly, or alternatively you may choose to use a mortgage broker. There are a wide range of mortgage products on offer, so definitely worth spending the time to research this.

Once you have an agreement from your Lender that they will offer you a mortgage, the Lender will perform a mortgage valuation to make sure that they are willing to lend on the property you want to buy.

Once the lender has confirmed that they are happy to lend to you for this particular property, they will issue you a final mortgage offer. At this point, its worth checking over the mortgage conditions in detail.

4. Select a conveyancing firm (solicitor)

One of the first things the solicitor will do is carry out searches on the property for you. These can vary from location to location, but typically include local council searches, environmental searches and drainage searches to make sure there are no underlying issues with the property. This stage can take time, but it is often required as part of the condition of the mortgage so something you just have to wait to be completed.

5. Consider getting a property survey

Once you’re sure you can borrow what you need, you may want to hire an independent surveyor to make sure the property is in good condition too. This can be done after your mortgage offer has been made but always do it before exchange, in case any major issues arise.

There are two main types of surveys: Homebuyers report, or a Full Structural Survey. Deciding which survey to undertake is usually based on the overall age and condition of the property, so its worth taking the time to weigh up your options here.

6. Discuss the completion date

At this point, it is worth discuss any final details with the seller, including agreeing a completion date. This is the date that the keys of the property get handed over, and needs to be a date that works for both you and the seller.

7. Exchange of Contracts

Before you can exchange the contracts, you will need to make sure that you have organised the transfer of the deposit to your solicitor. This can take a bit of time, as most banks only allow you to move £25,000 per day, so make sure you allow enough time for this to be completed.

Once your solicitor and your seller’s solicitor exchange contracts, there is now a legally binding agreement between you and the seller. If you don’t proceed with the purchase at this stage, you will lose your deposit.

8. Final steps before completion

Once the contracts have been exchanged, there are a few final steps to be completed before you can get the keys to your new home:

  • Your solicitor will give you a completion statement, setting out what remaining money is due to be paid before the agreed completion date.
  • Your solicitor will prepare the transfer deed, which needs to be signed in the presence of a witness. This is not required in all cases, so worth checking with your solicitor if you are unsure.
  • Your solicitor will request the mortgage money from your lender so that the payment has time to clear before the completion date.

9. Completion

The keys are finally yours – now you can celebrate!

Finally getting the keys – its all worth it in the end

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