Below are a number of buyer frequently asked questions to help you with your property purchase
I want to buy a property. What do I do first?
Before you start searching for a property, you need to know what costs are involved, how much deposit you can afford and what size mortgage you are likely to be offered.
Our handy calculators can help you understand your finances or, if you would like a more accurate idea of how much you could borrow and some help finding the best mortgage deal, you can make an appointment with our partner, Embrace Financial Services.
You need to apply for a mortgage and find a solicitor before you can make an offer. Our partner Embrace Financial Services can help you with these. You don't need to have instructed a solicitor to make an offer, but as soon as an offer is accepted, you should contact a solicitor / conveyancer to move the process along and get the process rolling.
What if I want to buy a property with another person?
There are two main options.
Becoming "Joint Tenants" is ideal if you are a couple, particularly if you're married. It means you will jointly own the whole of the property. If the worst happens and one of you should die, the ownership will automatically pass to the other.
The second option is to hold the property as "Tenants In Common", which means each of you owns an agreed proportion of the property. You might decide that you own an equal share of the property, or (for example) that one of you will own 70% and the other 30%. Should one of you die their proportion will pass to whoever is specified in the deceased person's will.
A joint purchase should always be made with the expert advice of a solicitor.
How long will it take to complete my purchase?
Every purchase is different, your position, the seller's position and how many other people are in the chain will affect how long the process takes.
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 or has an onward purchase, the exchange of contracts normally takes between 4 and 8 weeks, and then completion takes between 2 and 4 weeks. So in total you should expect anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks to complete the purchase.
How much will conveyancing cost?
We can introduce you to a solicitor and offer a no sale no fee conveyancing service with a guaranteed fixed price to keep everything simple.
You must pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) if you buy a property or land over a certain price in England. It is charged as a percentage of the purchase price, but the amount you have to pay is also affected by other factors - including whether you’re a first-time buyer, if you already own a property and you’re buying an additional property - or if you’re not a UK resident.
To find out how much Stamp Duty you will need to pay use our Stamp Duty calculator.
Do I need a survey?
A survey isn't compulsory, but we recommend that you arrange one whenever you purchase a property. It allows you to see the current condition of the property, reducing the chance of nasty surprises further down the line.
There are three main types of surveys with varying costs, but most conventional properties will require a Condition Report. Your local branch can introduce you to a local surveyor from our sister company e.surv who is the largest provider of surveys in the country. Read more about surveys.
In addition, your mortgage lender will arrange a mortgage valuation that you will have to pay for in order to secure a mortgage. A mortgage valuation merely confirms that the property is worth what you are being lent and will not give details on the condition of the property.
When do I need to pay the deposit?
The deposit is paid to the seller’s solicitor, usually within five days of the exchange of contracts.
When will my mortgage lender release the funds?
The funds from your 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. Your solicitor will take this time into account when advising you of the earliest possible completion date.
When do I need to arrange insurance?
We recommend organising home and contents insurance shortly before you sign the contract and all insurance policies should begin from the exchange of contract date.
You should also consider organising mortgage protection so that your family isn't pressured to cover your mortgage in the worst case scenario of illness or death. This should be arranged when you complete your mortgage application.
As part of the conveyancing process, your solicitor will perform searches of 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 do I sign the contract?
After the sale is agreed, the seller's solicitor will draft a contract. Your solicitor will confirm the details of the property and perform searches. At the same time, your mortgage lender will need to conduct a mortgage valuation and send you a mortgage offer. Once all of this is complete, you will be ready to sign the contract and agree the completion date.
When is the buyer or seller bound to the sale or purchase?
Until both solicitors receive signed contracts from the seller and the buyer (known as exchange of contracts), either party can pull out at any time and for any reason.
How is a completion date chosen?
Once both parties have signed the contracts, your solicitor will request the mortgage funds from the lender. The mortgage lender will let your solicitor know when the funds will be released, then your solicitor and the seller's solicitor will consult both parties and agree a completion date. However, possible completion dates are usually discussed earlier to allow services like removals to be arranged.
How and when do I get the keys?
The contract will detail specifically where and when you collect the keys and what time the seller has to vacate the property. The seller is usually required to vacate the property by 12pm, and the keys collected from the seller's estate agent at 2pm.
What happens to my title deeds?
The title deeds of your property will remain with your solicitor while they complete the legal work which happens after you've recieved the keys.
If you do not have a mortgage on the property when your purchase completes, your solicitor will send them to you.
If there is a mortgage on the property, your solicitior will send the deeds to your Lender, who will hold them until you repay your mortgage with them in full, remortgage to another lender or sell the property.
What will the seller leave in the property?
A list of fixtures and fittings will be agreed between the solicitors prior to the contract being signed. This sets out what the seller intends to remove and what they are prepared to include in the house price. In some instances, they may offer items for sale for the purchaser to consider, and some contents can be offered for inclusion as part of the negotiation of the purchase price.