Top tips to make your house purchase go smoothly
It might be your first house, or you might be looking to move to a bigger house or a different area. Whatever the reason, buying a property can be a stressful time and it’s probably the biggest investment you’ve made so far.
With 200 years of experience in helping people move house, we thought we would share some tips to make this important time run smoothly.
- Know your limits
Talk to your mortgage broker or bank to determine exactly how much money you can borrow. This will help you focus your property search to houses you can afford and avoid disappointment.
- Leasehold or freehold?
What kind of property are you looking for? Is it a flat? A house? A bungalow? Will you own the whole property (freehold) or just your flat within a bigger building (leasehold)? If you are unsure about what will work better for you in the short or long term, ask for legal advice. This could be particularly true if you decide on a flat but the one you like has a very short lease remaining.
If you are buying a flat, this will require more legal work than a simple house purchase and will take longer as there are more documents that need to be reviewed and investigated on your behalf. Similarly, a new build property or a shared ownership may also take longer as there will be additional work involved. This will also be reflected in the costs, not just for legal fees but potential payments to third parties such as services charge payments to management companies.
- Choosing the right professionals
Solicitor or Conveyancer – be wary of cheap online services. Always check client reviews (like Google Reviews) on any firm you are considering. The cheapest quote may actually cost you more in the long run, particularly if additional costs were not clearly outlined at the beginning. Many cheap conveyancing firms are not solicitors and do not have to operate to the same high standards, nor are they bound by such strict regulatory requirements for client protection.
Check if you will have your conveyancer’s name, direct telephone number and email if you need to speak to them. Not knowing what is happening will undoubtedly cause stress, but here at GA you will know who is acting for you for the entire transaction and how to get hold of them if you have questions.
Removal Companies – ensure the company is able to accommodate your potential move date but don’t confirm the date until contracts have been exchanged as it is not legally binding until this time
Once you have found your dream home, you will be excited and eager to move but let the professionals complete their work. Try to avoid communicating directly with the person who is selling the house. As much as you think this will move matters more swiftly, in our experience, this is rarely the case and you may end up falling out. Leave the communication to the agents and legal professionals on your behalf.
The time it takes to complete the legal side of a house purchase depends on how long the chain is. On average a straight forward freehold purchase can take approximately 6-8 weeks, but if there is a chain the average goes up to 8-12 weeks.
The chain can involve numerous parties and the logistics of organising everyone and getting everyone to agree on one day can be difficult. Sometimes “compromise” is the key in order to get an agreed date for completion.
The deposit is not the only money you will need to start the process of buying a house. There are lots of things to consider such as stamp duty, renovations and of course legal fees. Most of your legal fees will be paid on completion, however, your solicitor may require upfront payment to cover costs for searches or copies of title documents.
If you are buying with another person and are each contributing monies into the purchase, it is wise to consider putting in place a Declaration of Trust. This will set out the position regarding repayment of the monies if anything was to happen in the future. Putting a declaration in place now will undoubtedly save you money, time and heartache in the future, if things go wrong.
- Moving day
The property you are buying should be vacated by lunchtime on moving day, however, the keys cannot be collected until the monies have been received by the sellers’ solicitor. This could mean you have moved out of your house but cannot move in until those keys are released. This is normal so don’t worry, removal companies are used to this.
Sometimes, hiccups on moving day can occur such as late receipt of mortgage funds, or other delays in the chain moving monies which can impact on the day. This is why it is important to use local solicitors who are easily contactable to ensure that this stressful day can be as smooth as possible.