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The process of buying a home in England typically involves several key steps. Here's a general outline of the process:

1. Determine your budget: Assess your financial situation, including savings, income, and any mortgage pre-approval you may have, to determine how much you can afford to spend on a property.  If you intend to get a mortage on the property you buy, it is a really good idea to have this agreed in principle before you start viewing.  That way, you know exactly what you can afford and do not start viewing property over budget.  Once you find a place you love and want to put an offer on it, you know your top price, so you can negotiate in a sensible way.

2. Find a property: Search for properties that meet your criteria using estate agency websites, property websites, or other sources. Attend viewings to assess the condition, location, and suitability of the properties you're interested in.  It is worth noting that in a busy market many properties will go under offer before they actively hit the portals or even our own website, so we urge you to register with us and that way we can get in touch as soon as we are instructed to sell a property that we think you'll love.  You can register HERE

3. Make an offer: Once you've found a property you wish to purchase, you can make an offer to the seller. This is usually done through your estate agent, who will communicate with the seller or their agent. The seller can accept your offer, reject it, or negotiate the price.  Whilst it is tempting to 'make an offer' which is under the asking price, it is worthwhile discussing the seller's position with the estate agent as they will be able to guide you.  Check that the price is not listed as "offers in excess of" which means that they will be very unlikely to accept anything lower than th marked price, and will likely sell for more.

4. Hire a solicitor or conveyancer: Engage a solicitor or conveyancer who will handle the legal aspects of the purchase. They will conduct searches, handle the paperwork, and ensure the transfer of ownership is legally executed.  If you are purchasing a property with Wills & Smerdon we will recommend the solicitors that we feel give the best service in terms of getting the sale through to completion.  Often the cheaper conveyancers do a basic job but will not hurry a sale through or help if an issue comes up.

5. Mortgage application: If you require a mortgage, submit a formal mortgage application to a lender. They will assess your application, conduct a valuation on the property, and make a lending decision.  It is worth being mindful of your credit score before you start looking for a property, try not to take out loans or credit in the run-up as these can affect your credit score.  

6. Property survey: It is advisable to arrange for a property survey to assess the condition of the property. This can help identify any issues or potential problems before proceeding with the purchase.  There are several types of surveys available when purchasing a property in the UK. Each survey provides different levels of detail and insight into the condition of the property. The main types of surveys include:

Valuation Survey: This is the most basic type of survey and is often required by mortgage lenders. The valuation survey aims to determine the value of the property and ensure it is suitable as collateral for the mortgage. It doesn't provide an in-depth assessment of the property's condition and is primarily focused on the lender's interests.

Condition Report: This is a basic survey that provides an overview of the property's condition. It highlights any significant issues, such as damp or subsidence, but doesn't go into great detail. It is a relatively inexpensive option but may not uncover all potential problems.

HomeBuyer Report: The HomeBuyer Report is a more comprehensive survey that provides a detailed inspection of the property. It includes an assessment of the property's condition, identifies any major or urgent issues, and provides advice on necessary repairs and ongoing maintenance. It typically covers the main elements of the property, such as the roof, walls, plumbing, and electrics.

Building Survey (formerly known as a Structural Survey): This is the most extensive and detailed survey option. It provides a comprehensive inspection of the property, including a thorough assessment of the structure and condition. It offers in-depth analysis and recommendations for repairs, maintenance, and potential issues. Building surveys are particularly useful for older properties, properties in poor condition, or if you plan to undertake significant renovations.

It's important to note that the availability and terminology of surveys may vary between different countries or regions. In the UK, these are the commonly recognised types of surveys. When choosing a survey, consider the age, type, and condition of the property, as well as your budget and personal preferences. It's recommended to engage a qualified surveyor to conduct the survey and provide a detailed report tailored to your specific needs.

7. Exchange of contracts: Once all legal checks, searches, and surveys are completed satisfactorily, you and the seller will sign the contract. At this point, you'll typically pay a deposit, which is usually 5-10% of the property's value.  The time it takes to complete a purchase once offers are agreed can vary depending on several factors. On average, it can take around 8 to 12 weeks from the point of offer acceptance to completion, but it's important to note that this timeline is just an estimate, and the actual duration can be shorter or longer depending on various circumstances. Here are some factors that can influence the timeline:

Chain: If there is a chain involved, meaning you are buying a property from someone who is also buying another property, the completion timeline can be influenced by the length and complexity of the chain. Delays in any part of the chain can affect the overall process.

Mortgage and Financing: If you require a mortgage, the time it takes to complete the purchase can depend on the efficiency of your mortgage lender. The mortgage application and approval process, including valuation and underwriting, can add time to the overall timeline.

Legal Process: The conveyancing process, which involves the legal aspects of the purchase, can take time. Your solicitor or conveyancer will handle searches, contracts, and other legal requirements. Delays in obtaining necessary documents, addressing legal issues, or resolving inquiries can impact the completion timeline.

Surveys and Inspections: If you choose to conduct property surveys or inspections, the time it takes to arrange these and receive the reports can add to the overall timeline. Any issues identified during the surveys may require additional negotiations or investigations.

Buyer and Seller Cooperation: The willingness and efficiency of both the buyer and seller to provide necessary information, respond to inquiries promptly, and complete required tasks can influence the speed of the process. It's important to maintain open communication with your solicitor, estate agent, and other relevant parties involved in the transaction. They can provide updates and help manage expectations regarding the expected completion date based on the specific circumstances of your purchase.

8. Completion: On the agreed completion date, the balance of the purchase price is transferred to the seller's solicitor, and ownership of the property is legally transferred to you. You will receive the keys to your new home, this usually happens just after lunch unless there is a delay with the money moving up the chain.

9. Post-completion: Your solicitor will handle the payment of stamp duty (if applicable) and register the property in your name with the Land Registry. You should also arrange for home insurance and notify relevant parties of your change of address.

It's important to note that this is a general overview, and the specific details and requirements may vary depending on individual circumstances, the type of property, and any specific conditions of the sale. It's advisable to seek professional advice from a solicitor or conveyancer to guide you through the process and ensure a smooth transaction.