Buyers Guide

Belvoir Huntingdon’s step-by-step guide to buying a house takes you briefly through each step of the home buying process

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Let’s put simply, it’s always best to have as big a deposit as possible when buying a house because you’ll have to borrow less and be able to access cheaper mortgage deals.

However, it is possible to buy a house without a deposit. 100% Mortgages are available and for those struggling to raise a deposit, there are government schemes, you can also get help with smaller deposits from government home buying schemes.

It’s advisable to speak to a mortgage broker before you start house-hunting to find out how much you’re likely to be able to borrow and how much your monthly repayments are likely to be.

Whether you’re looking for mortgage advice for first time buyers or you’re looking to re-mortgage, the mortgage market has shifted considerably in recent years so having up-to-date advice from an expert who knows the mortgage market inside out and is vital. Belvoir’s Partner Mortgage Advice Bureau are a great start if you are looking for support,

Speaking to a mortgage broker may be particularly useful if your circumstances are less straightforward, such as if you’re looking for a self-employed mortgage or mortgages for bad credit. And bear in mind, the process of buying a house is slightly different if you are buying a new build property.

You’ll need to consider what type of mortgage you want and make sure you don’t overstretch yourself.

When it comes to apply for a mortgage, while it’s useful to research the market as early as possible, you can’t make your full mortgage application until you’ve had an offer accepted on a house. But you can – and should – apply for a mortgage in principle which is a document from a lender stating how much it would lend you ‘in principle’ based on details including your income. Having a mortgage in principle shows you are a serious buyer and will put you in a stronger position when it comes to making an offer on a house.

Don’t forget the variety of one-off and ongoing costs of buying a house. These can put an extra 15% on the cost of your home – more if you want to do serious building or redecoration work when you move in. Please see the cost of moving section at the link below.

Once you’ve found a house you want to buy, making an offer for the right amount is key.

A telephone call followed up by an email will be fine. If your offer is accepted, while it’s understandably exciting, it’s not a done deal until you exchange contracts.

When you’re buying a house, you should ideally have got your finances in place before making an offer. If you’ve done this and your offer has been accepted, you now just need to go back to your mortgage broker and start your full mortgage application. Then you’ll need to wait for your lender to make you a formal mortgage offer.

At the same time as sorting your mortgage, you’ll need to get a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal side of buying it. We can offer the service of Buckles Law, Cambridge or Knights, London, but don’t worry you do not have to use the one’s we suggested. Feel free to shop around to ensure you get the best price and service.

Once you’ve appointed your solicitor or conveyancer, you’ll need to instruct them carry out Local Authority Searches to ensure there are not any major problems with the property.

While a survey isn’t a requirement when buying a house, when you’re spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on a property, paying for an independent expert surveyor seems like a good investment.

It’s a good idea to book your survey in early as it shows the seller you are serious. You can get quotes from local qualified surveyors and compare today so you’re ready to instruct when the time comes.

Make sure you don’t confuse a survey with a mortgage valuation. A mortgage valuation is for the lender’s benefit and is done to ensure that the property is a good enough to lend against.

Before you can exchange contracts, you need to arrange your deposit, traditionally 10% of the purchase price although it’s often less, and give it to your solicitor or conveyancer.

When you exchange contracts with the seller you become legally committed to buying the property – and they are legally committed to selling it do you. If you pull out your deposit can be forfeited and you can be sued. Your solicitor or conveyancer should advise you when you are ready to exchange. You can exchange when you’re happy with the searches, survey, and the details in the contract; your lender has confirmed your mortgage; you’re able to pay the deposit and all the other associated costs including stamp duty.

Before you exchange contracts, you need to agree a completion date with the seller, this is often 2-4 weeks after the exchange.

Your solicitor or conveyancer will inform the Land Registry that they are in the process of transferring ownership of your property. And they should also be liaising with your mortgage company to ensure the money will be ready for completion.

Completion is when you pay for the property and take ownership of it, and takes place at a certain time of day – often midday. When you have completed you should be able to collect the keys.

After completion, the final stages of buying a house involve your solicitor or conveyancer sending you an account, covering all their costs and disbursements, as well as the purchase price of the house and stamp duty. See how much stamp duty you will pay by following the link to the MAB Stamp Duty Calculator.

Your solicitor or conveyancer will normally pay the stamp duty for you, and ensure that the change of ownership is registered with the Land Registry.

Don’t forget to Book the removals!