We have produced this guide to help buyers with their property search and also during the steps that follow when an offer on a property has been accepted. If the advice and tips provided here are followed, we believe the property buying process will be as smooth and stress free as possible.
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Choose and get to know an area
Buying a property, whether it be a home or an investment, is exciting and you may wish to explore a number of areas to see how they meet your requirements. Key to many peoples’ search is the commute to work and the local transport links, the lifestyle one wishes to lead and, of course, your budget.
We generally advise buyers to research and decide upon one or two areas prior to beginning viewings of properties. This will narrow down your search area and helps avoid ‘spreading yourself too thin’. You will then become an informed buyer in this area and when you finally find the property you have been searching for you will be in a position to make an offer confident in your decision and in the price agreed.
Register with us
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 7060 0450 to register your search criteria and contact details. We require your full name, email and mobile number. Please let us know your budget, the number of bedrooms you require, what areas you are looking in and also any other specific requirements. For example, you may be looking for a two-bedroom apartment on the Barbican Estate with a budget of between £800,000 to £950,000 or you may be looking for a modern one-bedroom apartment in Clerkenwell with a budget of between £600,000 and £700,000 but it must have a balcony and be within 10 minutes’ walk of Farringdon station. It is also helpful if you can provide a brief explanation of your buying position i.e. are you in a chain? Are you a cash buyer or will you be taking mortgage finance? Is this an investment or home search? What is your timescale for completing on a purchase?
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Looking in a specific apartment building?
If you are keen to make a purchase in a specific apartment building and you want to ensure you aware of any apartments for sale as soon as they come to market, we would advise you finding out the precise postcode for that block. For example, EC1Y 2AN is the postcode for The Lexington on City Road and EC1M 5NW is Millennium Heights at One Britton Street. The relevant full postcode can then easily be entered into the property portals as frequently as you wish and you will be aware of any new apartments for sale in that specific block.
Get your finances in place
We recommend you have your finances in place for the purchase before you starting looking. If you are taking a mortgage we recommend you have an agreement in principal (AIP) from a lender directly or via a mortgage broker. Prior to this agency advising one of our sellers to accept an offer we would wish to see an AIP, if applicable, and in certain circumstances we may wish to see evidence of funds for the purchase and associated costs (see below).
Instructing a solicitor
While you may not formally instruct a solicitor until you have had an offer accepted we do recommend that you have a solicitor lined up. Often asking family or friends for a recommendation of a solicitor they have used recently and received good service from is a starting point. We are also happy to advise you on choosing a solicitor or conveyancer and also can make a recommendation to you.
Prior to formally instructing a solicitor we do advise you speak with the solicitor and explain your timescales and expectations as to how the conveyance should proceed. Occasionally a solicitor may be very busy and this gives them the opportunity to decline your instruction if they do not feel they will be able to work to the agreed timescale to exchange and completion that has agreed with the seller.
Making an offer
The simple advice is to make an offer at the price you feel the property is currently worth. This may be at the asking price, or below the asking price or above the asking price. Obviously, your understanding of the current market conditions will feed into your decision making. There is lots of information available to assist you with your decision; you may wish to look at recently sold or ‘under offer’ properties in the area, speak with other local estate agents and view properties on the market to get a feel as to what is going on locally and what your money will get you.
If you have done your research, know the area and become an informed and savvy buyer then you will be happy and confident in your decision when you do agree a purchase - which is what the seller and the estate agent also want you to be!
When your offer is accepted
Once an offer is accepted we would require your full address and your solicitor’s details as soon as possible. This is so we can produce the Memorandum of Sale which is sent to the solicitors so they can begin the conveyance. It is likely we will have already enquired about your buying position (see above) and financing prior to an offer being accepted. If you are in a chain, we would require the details of the other estate agent(s) acting on the other sale(s) so we can liaise with them.
If you are taking a mortgage the next step is to arrange a lender’s mortgage valuation. This entails a visit to the property by a surveyor on behalf of the lender to ensure the property is broadly worth the price that has been agreed and it is adequate security for their loan. We always advise that this is organised as soon as possible after a sale has been agreed so in the unlikely event there is any issue with the surveyor’s valuation it can be addressed sooner rather than later.
A Homebuyers Report is often helpful if you are buying an older property, or an apartment in an older building such as a warehouse conversion. This will go into more detail and will highlight any work you might expect in the coming years. It costs more money but does offer peace of mind. Finally, there is a Full Structural Survey which you would be advised to undertake if you were purchasing an entire house or an entire building.
Additional costs incurred
Property purchases will incur Stamp Duty. There is information on this here and your solicitor will also be able to advise you on this. You should discuss with your mortgage provider or broker as to whether there will be a mortgage set up fee or arrangement fee and the cost of the lender’s survey. On top of this there are the solicitors’ fees for the legal work carried out and there will be various other fees for searches of local and planning matters with the local authority and also administration fees for information requested off managing agents where the property is leasehold. These are organised by your solicitor and charged as disbursements to you.