Buying A House – The Facts

Whether you are buying a house or a flat there are few things you need to be aware of before you start.

Firstly, you will most likely need to save for a deposit – the 2008 credit crunch signalled the end of the 100% mortgage for first time buyers, although some lenders are cautiously considering it again as part of shared equity arrangements, whereby families may help first-time buyers get on the property ladder.

However, the normal deposit for a house is 10% of the asking or sale price – so if you have your eyes set on a house worth £250k (about the average price of a home in the UK) you will need to save around £25k.

Houses are mainly freehold, whereas flats are usually leasehold – but you can also find flats which offer a share of the freehold. This can be more like owning a house than a flat – and it also does away with the risk of buying a flat with a freeholder or managing agent which allows it to fall into disrepair.

Once you have your deposit saved it is time to hunt round for a mortgage before launching your search for a house.

  • It is a good idea to search online within your price range first, before narrowing the search down to your favourite locations, as this will give you a more realistic idea of what you can buy for your budget.
  • View as many houses as possible – and always try to look past the decoration, layout and condition of the house, unless there is an obvious problem with damp, repairs or subsidence.
  • If you know nothing about property take along a friend or relative with some knowledge – and don’t be afraid to ask the estate agent or vendor as many questions as you like, however difficult.
  • One you have made an offer for a house and it has been accepted, you need to instruct a conveyancing solicitor – online conveyancing solicitors are usually cheaper and faster, but choose a reputable online conveyancing solicitor and remember they will most likely charge more in fees if they have to process a lease.
  • You also need to instruct a surveyor at this stage to survey the property and send a report to you and your solicitor.
  • Your conveyancing solicitor will make searches, process the draft contract and Home Information Pack (HIP) which the seller’s solicitor prepares and sends.
  • The next stage is exchange of contracts, when you sign the property transfer deed and the deposit is paid to the vendor’s solicitor, making the sale binding.
  • The final searches are then performed and your solicitor will set a date for completion – this is when the deed of transfer is stamped (hence Stamp Duty) and sent to the Land Registry for your name to be added to the property deeds. The vendor also receives the sale monies and you receive the keys and can move in.
  • You will then receive a bill for the disbursements paid, as well as your conveyancing solicitor’s professional fees.

Peter Anderson – I enjoy writing blog posts about conveyancing and property. Google+