Here at Williams & Donovan, we recognise that for most people, buying a home is almost certainly the largest and most expensive purchase they ever make. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be a daunting prospect! So…
How do I start?
Well, if you’ve got another property to sell, then the first thing to do is put it on the market (Click HERE for our page on Selling). This will give you a much clearer idea of your available budget, and will also put you in a much stronger position than competing buyers, once you find the home you want.
Next, work out your budget. Rather than wasting your time looking at properties you can’t afford, do your sums first. How big a deposit can you put down – and if you still require a mortgage, how much can you afford in terms of monthly payments? And don’t forget to factor in things like solicitor or conveyancer fees, Stamp Duty, and the other costs associated with moving.
Talking of mortgages…
Finding the right one is a complicated business – so it’s best to consult an independent mortgage advisor who is able to look at the whole market in order to find the product that best suits your needs. Don’t over-stretch yourself - remember, interest rates will have to go up again sooner or later! Try and get a written “in-principle” mortgage offer – again, this will further strengthen your position.
Click HERE for information on mortgages.
Now it’s time for the serious house-hunting!
First, be clear about your requirements – not just your absolute must-haves, but also those things that you’re prepared to be flexible about. Depending on the state of the market, you may have to be prepared to compromise a little. However, as a general rule, you should try to see as many properties as possible (this is a big decision, after all!) - although if you’re lucky enough to find the perfect property early on in your search, don't delay. If you like it, someone else probably will too!
These days, most people conduct their initial searches online, but there is still a place for the traditional way of doing things - by coming in and registering with us. The more information you give us about things like your requirements, your financial position, and your timescale, the better we can help you.
First, draw up a list of the questions you want to ask – and make your own notes, so you can review them later. For obvious reasons, try to look round in daylight, and don’t be put off by bad weather - pouring rain can reveal quite a lot about a property’s state of repair! Always try to take a friend with you, for that all-important second opinion. Don’t forget to give us your feedback - and once you find something you really like, be sure to view it again at least once at a different time of day – for example, during rush hour – to get a feel for what living there would really be like. Lastly, make sure that everyone who has a say in the final decision also sees it.
Making an offer
When you decide on the property you want, don’t delay - other buyers may also be interested. We will forward your offer in writing to our vendor client, and send a copy to you. Bear in mind that the vendor is under absolutely no obligation to accept your offer, even if it’s actually the highest - which is why it’s so important to ensure you are in the best possible position.
If your offer is accepted, we will write to you confirming the details. Remember, however, that all offers are “subject to contract” – which means they are not legally binding on either you or the vendor until exchange of contracts.
What happens now?
Once your offer has been accepted and the sale agreed, your immediate priorities are to instruct your solicitor or conveyancer, commission a survey, and submit a formal mortgage application. When the conveyancing work has been carried out and your finances are in order, you will be in a position to exchange contracts. It is only at this point that the transaction becomes binding on both you and the vendor. The final stage in the process is known as 'completion,' when all the money has changed hands and the property legally becomes yours.