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The Property Buying Process
How to Buy a House – 23 steps to the process!
This page outlines the 23 steps to buying your first house or flat.
When you decide the time is right for you to buy a house, this step-list will help.
Whichever route you take, you will need to find a local mortgage advisor and a conveyancing solicitor to accompany you on your journey.
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When you buy a house or buy a property in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, this is the process step by step:
1 Firstly when you decide you want to buy a house or flat, you, you and your friend/partner will need to decide where you want to buy property. You should list what sort of amenities you need nearby and what your requirements are from the property.
2 You must tot up all the money you have at your disposal for use as a deposit. Don’t forget to account for house-purchasing and set up costs.
3 At the same time, contact a good mortgage broker or mortgage advisor for mortgage advice. They will help you choose the right mortgage. They will help you with your application and you will receive a ‘decision in principle’ on the amount you can borrow to buy a house or flat.
4 Search on line on the property portals covering UK property and also register with estate agents in the area you want to live.
5 Locate a property solicitor to carry out the legal aspects of the house-buying process. This is known as conveyancing, and your solicitor must also draw up any agreements if you are buying a house with a friend. This is vital – never leave it to chance whether you are buying with a friend or partner. If you are buying with a civil partner or spouse, there are automatic agreements in place which will give rights to each partner in the event of a split. However unromantic it sounds, always make sure you are aware of your legal situation now, should you split up in future.
6 Start looking at properties that fit the bill and are within your budget. Don’t waste time looking at UK properties that don’t meet your basic needs or you can’t afford.
7 Make an offer to buy the property based on what you have seen but make it subject to survey and contract.
8 If the person or house-builder accepts your offer and conditions, ask the estate agent (if there is one) to take the property off the market.
9 Instruct your solicitor to act on your behalf and give him the details of the property location, and the vendor’s estate agent.
10 Your conveyancing solicitor will contact the vendor’s property solicitor requesting title deeds to the property. He will start contractual proceedings.
11 Find a surveyor and ask for a home-buyers report or a survey to be carried out. A full structural survey will give more information, but is not a legal requirement and it is up to you whether you consider it a good use of money. Remember that if you do not have a full structural survey you will have no comeback should asbestos, dry rot or subsidence be found later.
12 The mortgage lender will carry out an independent valuation of the property, and you will be required to pay for a mortgage survey.
13 Your mortgage lender, on sight of the property valuation and data backing up your application agrees to lend you the money for the property.
14 You should then send a copy of your survey report to the solicitor. He will give you his view on it and you may want to discuss his findings. You may be able to ask for a slight reduction on the price or some remedial work to be carried out pre-sale.
15 The solicitor will check the property, carry out his local authority searches – which you may want to add to – and find out if any alterations to the property have been made. This would be the time to negotiate a price for fixtures and fittings.
Your solicitor will finalise the details in the contract of sale/purchase with the vendor’s solicitor and confirm mortgage details with your mortgage lender.
16 You then pay a deposit into your solicitor’s account. He holds it there until exchange of contracts.
17 On the day of exchange of contracts, your solicitor exchanges contracts with the seller’s solicitor and sends your deposit over. A date for completion (when you can accept the key and move in), which will have been proposed before-hand is agreed upon. If you buy a new house, there is no chain and this step of agreeing a date is much easier than when a chain is involved.
18 Your solicitor will liaise with your mortgage lender to ensure the mortgage is available for the completion date.
19 Your solicitor will prepare the property transfer deed, which is signed by you and the seller and lodged with the seller’s solicitor until completion.
20 The mortgage lender transfers the money into your solicitor’s account ready for completion.
21 On completion day, the day you can move in, your solicitor transfers the money to the sellers’ solicitor in return for the transfer deed, Land Registry certificate and the keys. The sale is then completed.
22 Your solicitor arranges for the transfer deed to be stamped, pays the stamp duty and sends the transfer deed to the Land Registry to record you as the owner.
23 Your solicitor passes the deed to your mortgage lender to act as security for the loan and then he will send you the bill for his services and costs.
To find out the cost of wills, conveyancing, trust deeds or co-habitation agreements, hook up with a conveyancing solicitor. They will also be able to help you with agreements and wills
If you buy a house at auction the process is shortened. You are committed to the sale as soon as your bid is made in the auction house. Find out more about buying a house at auction .
Our information does not cover how to buy a house UK wide as the process is different in Scotland.
If you want to buy a council house you will need to contact your landlord but the legal process is much the same.
If you are buying a flat or apartment, as opposed to a freehold house, be aware that on top of your mortgage and utility payments and council tax, you will also have to pay service and maintenance charges.
Failure to pay these could result in your lease being forfeited. Leases are long, complicated documents which constitute an agreement between you, the leaseholder, and the freeholder. When you buy a property with a lease, you are not buying a property but a length of tenure. Usually this will be 125 years, but could be 999 years.
If buying a flat, try to choose one which comes with a share of the freehold, as this means you own a share in the building, and that the residents own the property between them. Read the lease very carefully before you buy, as it is a legally enforceable document, and there may be clauses telling you what kind of flooring you can use, whether you can legally sublet, keep pets or when you are allowed to play music or hang out washing, for instance. You could be taken to court for infringements of the lease.
Find out more about how to buy a house in our guide :
Other parts of our site deal more specifically with first time buyer mortgages , how parents can help. first time buyer legal services and various ownership options such as shared ownership. shared equity and joint ownership but this How to Buy a House guide outlines the process of how to buy a house and who plays what part in it.
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