5 tips for buying a home

Lying Couple On Grass And Dream House CollageBuying a home is a key life step and a daunting undertaking – so make sure you know what is involved.

Here are some practical steps that will make the process easier and the legal procedures smoother.

  1. Get your mortgage ready. Have approval in principle before viewing properties so that you can make offers. If your offer is accepted, have your bank issue your letter of loan offer as soon as possible, if it hasn’t been done already. You shouldn’t sign a contract of sale without legal advice and the loan offer must be formally in place first. Check whether you have to satisfy any additional requirements: simple things like credit checks, supplying evidence of your earnings or putting adequate life assurance in place can hold up a mortgage and the closing of the transaction.
  2. Be happy with the price. Do your negotiating before you reach sale agreed, as renegotiating once contracts have been prepared can be difficult. Check what similar local properties have been selling for on the Residential Property Price Register, which is a better guide than asking prices.
  3. Have your deposit ready. Usually the deposit will be 10% of the sale price. The auctioneer will seek a booking deposit and the balance of the 10% will be payable on signing contracts, so make sure you have it before you reach that stage.
  4. Have the house assessed by a professional before signing contracts. Your solicitor will check the title deeds and any legal aspects to the property, but you should make sure that you’re happy with everything else before signing the contract. Engage a fully insured engineer to prepare a report on the structural integrity of the house and the planning history. You can also do some research of your own by visiting the area repeatedly. What is the traffic like at 8.30 am on a Tuesday morning? Is there any noise or anti-social behaviour at 11 pm on a Saturday night? Is the local shop or school within walking distance? Think of these practicalities now, before it’s too late.
  5. Budget. The cost of buying will be higher than the purchase price so budget for purchase costs. These will include stamp duty, Land Registry fees, solicitor’s fees and other costs. Our solicitors can provide an overview of what costs are involved so that you know what to expect.

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