Frequently Asked Questions

Buyers - FAQ

Before you start searching for a property, you need to work out how much moving is likely to cost and see what mortgage deposit you can afford. Costs should include solicitors’ fees, stamp duty, surveys and removals.
Stamp duty is a tax on the cost of properties over £125,000. The rate you pay depends on the purchase price of the property. For example, if the price of the property is £140,000 you would have to pay £300.00.
The freeholder of a property owns it outright, including the land it’s built on. Most houses are freehold although some might be leasehold – usually shared ownership. With leasehold you own the property and its land for the length of your lease agreement unless you are able to extend the lease.
Before starting to look at properties you need to start saving for a deposit. You need to try and save at least 5% - 20% of the cost of the home you would like, so if you want to buy a home costing £150,000 you need to at least save £7,500. Saving more than 5% will make it easier to apply for a wider range of cheap mortgages.
It is advisable to apply for a decision in principle from a mortgage lender and find a solicitor before you make an offer, this will speed up the process of the sale as you are not having to research and compare solicitors and mortgages whilst running into delays.
Every purchase is different. Your position and the sellers position need to be taken into consideration before this question can be answered accurately. If the seller has already vacated the property and you have already secured a mortgage, exchange of contracts and completion can happen relatively quickly.

However, if you need a mortgage and the seller is still in the property, the exchange of contracts normally takes between 4 and 6 weeks, the completion takes between 2 and 4 weeks. So in total you should expect up to 10 weeks to complete the purchase.
Your mortgage lender will arrange a mortgage valuation that you will have to pay for in order to secure a mortgage – some offer these for free. A mortgage valuation confirms that the property is worth what you are being loaned and will not give details on the condition of the property. We recommend you arrange your own survey whenever you purchase a property. This will allow you to see the current condition and reduces the chance of nasty surprises further down the line.
The mortgage will be requested from the lender by your solicitor. It usually takes around 4 – 5 working days for the lender to release the money being loaned.
Your solicitor will perform searches of the land registry and local authority information. They will be checking for planning history and any potential developments around roads, drainage and mining near the property. When is the buyer or seller bound to the sale or purchase? Until both solicitors receive signed contracts from the seller and the buyer, either party can pull out at any time and for any reason without cost or penalty until the contracts are exchanged.
Once both parties have signed the contracts then your solicitor and the sellers’ solicitor will consult both parties and agree a completion date. If you require a mortgage then after contracts are signed, the mortgage will be requested from the lender by your solicitor. The mortgage lender will let your solicitor know when the funds will be released, then your solicitor will consult both parties and agree a completion date. It is normal for completion to be 4 weeks after the date that the contract is exchanged due to transfer of utilities and organising removal companies etc.
Once the sellers’ solicitor has confirmed receipt of funds to confirm the transaction has completed, the estate agent will be able to confirm where and when you may collect keys.
A list of fixtures and fittings will be agreed between the solicitors prior to contract being signed. This sets out what they intend to remove and what they are prepared to include in the house price. In some instances, they may offer items for sale for the purchases to consider, and some contents can be offered for inclusion as part of the negotiation of the purchase price.
Until both solicitors receive signed contracts from the seller and the buyer, either party can pull out at any time and for any reason without cost or penalty until the contracts are exchanged.
After the completion date and receiving the keys, it is your responsibility to inform the utility companies you now have ownership of the property and your opening meter readings.
The estate agency will recommend a solicitor for you to use when purchasing a property. However, if you do wish to find your own you need to make sure solicitors are registered with the Law society http://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/ and conveyors on the council of licenced conveyors http://www.conveyancer.org.uk/ however these websites will not inform you of the services provided, what their value for money is or whether the clientele have been happy with the service.