How to Buy
Whether you are a cash buyer or looking to finance your purchase the first step before starting your property search is to organize that funds are in place or be “mortgage approved” by a lender. This is because good property with the right characteristics on the market at the right price can often be sold the same day it comes onto the market.
Be in a position to compete for good property by showing that you are prepared and able to move quickly.
Once you have defined your budget the next step is to consider the area where you would like to buy the property and if there are any vital characteristics it must have. Take into consideration why you are buying the property. For example, if it is a “buy-to-let” consider the importance of buying near a tube station or an area with a strong rental market. For capital growth, research up and coming areas and new transport links.
Have clear ideas about what you are looking for and be realistic that it is achievable with the budget you have.
It is important to carry out a detailed search on the chosen area, speaking to all of the estate agents on a daily basis and checking portals regularly. This can be time consuming and is why we are here to help you. Our consultants in London are in constant contact with local agents receiving details of property for sale often before it officially comes on the market, previewing on your behalf and providing details of recent activity so that you have a clear, realistic idea of the market.
Good property doesn’t stay on the market for long so it is important to stay up to date with the local market developments and be in a confident position to make a quick decision.
Once you have found your property the next step is to make an offer. This is often done over the telephone communicating your offer to the Estate Agent who will talk to his client and then get back to you with the answer. If the offer is not accepted at this stage you often have the opportunity to renegotiate. It may be daunting for our foreign clients to consider that the negotiation phase is often carried out on the telephone that is why it is important to clarify that we are here to do this for you.
In an ideal situation your offer is accepted immediately. This is however only a verbal agreement so it is strongly advisable to book a survey as soon as possible and provide details of your solicitor.
The solicitor is your legal representative for the sale. Please note that the role of a notary does not exist in the UK, so it is important that you choose your solicitor well. If you do not have a UK solicitor we are able to provide you with details of firms that come highly recommended from our own, personal experience.
It is important to be aware that an English solicitor, when working for you for the first time, will need to receive a certified copy of your passport for identification purposes. This is standard procedure in the UK. Then, to formally instruct the solicitor you will need to sign and return the Terms of Business and normally pay a small sum in advance (approximately £500.00).
Your solicitor will then contact the seller’s solicitor and receive the draft contract. This contract contains details of price, the two parties involved, information about the transaction such as deposits, information from the seller’s title deeds and a fixtures, fittings and contents form. Your solicitor will make any necessary enquiries and negotiations directly with the seller’s solicitor.
If you are a cash buyer it is advisable to organize a survey on the property, which is prepared by a surveyor. If you were “mortgage approved” this will have been subject to survey so the bank will also organize a surveyor to prepare a report. The survey determines the condition of the property and provides a valuation. If it becomes apparent in the report that the property needs structural work, you have the possibility to renegotiate the price, or even to pull out of the purchasing process altogether. A timely inspection by the surveyor is very much in the interest of the client.
Once the draft contract has been finalised your solicitor will send you a copy and a completion date will be agreed. The completion date is the day when the final sum of money is transferred to the seller and when you get the keys. It normally takes about two weeks from exchange of contracts to completion, although it can be more or less.
Please note that if you are part of a chain of sales, the completion date will probably need to be agreed with more than two parties.
This is the date agreed in the exchange of contracts when the final sum of money is transferred to the seller and the day when you get the keys to the property. Your solicitor will register the transfer of ownership at the Land Registry and send you a statement of completion. If you have not already paid their fees, they will ask for these now and you will need to pay stamp duty.