Buying a house or flat can be a daunting prospect, especially if you are a first-time buyer. As with many things, preparation can make the process much smoother. The tips below will hopefully come in useful, whether buying a first home, a larger family property or down-sizing.
Make sure you can get a mortgage
It sounds obvious, but it is the first thing that you need to check. Many lenders these days have rigorous affordability checks, and you need to know for certain that you will qualify.
This is even more relevant if you are getting financial assistance from a relative, as some lenders may have very specific requirements as to what they will (or won’t) accept.
Find a solicitor or conveyancer early on
Get an idea of the legal costs at an early stage. Many estate agents now have packages that include “the legals”. Whilst these often offer a “no sale, no fee” arrangement, they are not necessarily the cheapest option once the whole process is factored in.
It is always worth seeing if friends or relatives can recommend a firm that gave them a great service. The conveyancing process is a complex one, and you need to feel that you have faith in the people working for you.
Always have a survey carried out
The most detailed that you can afford. Whilst a seller cannot lie about a property, they are under no obligation to disclose information regarding the state and condition of a property, unless you specifically ask them the question.
Visiting the property
Remember, your solicitor won’t be attending the property, so it is crucial that you go back after your offer is accepted, to check things like parking arrangements, extensions, and boundaries. Always flag up any concerns you may have to your solicitor.
If you are having a mortgage, your lender will insist on a full set of searches. But even if you are buying for cash there may be relevant issues such as breaches of planning, environmental charges, flooding etc. that you would not find out without the relevant search. Better to spend an extra £100 or so at the outset, than to have a nasty shock after completion.
Set realistic target dates, and always discuss your concerns with your legal advisers. Whilst buying can be stressful, it should also be an exciting and positive experience!
Deborah Myerson specialises in residential conveyancing, for more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org