It’s almost enough to put anyone off – the business of home buying in the UK is complicated, probably the most complicated and potentially most fraught financial transaction you’re likely to encounter. Experience has shown that it might take at least twice as long from beginning to end in this country as practically anywhere else.
Like any long-term, seemingly impossible project plan, however, it might help to break down the whole business into manageable, bite-sized chunks.
Your particular financial circumstances, of course, are key. How much can you afford to pay – upfront and for the long-haul? This, in turn, is likely to break down into three basic elements:
- Borrowing – practically every prospective buyer will be looking to borrow money, by way of a mortgage. An early decision, therefore, is likely to be the amount you can realistically borrow, in the confidence of affording the monthly repayment instalments;
- Deposit – however much you can afford, or are able to borrow, you will also need to contribute to the purchase by way of a fairly hefty deposit. This may come from your savings or from the proceeds of a home you are selling. Either way, the amount of the deposit you have available is likely to help determine the price you can afford to pay for a new home;
- Purchase costs – the third element of home buying costs comprises all those fees, charges and expenses likely to be involved in the transaction itself – everything from legal expenses, to mortgage fees, surveyor’s fees, and the cost of removals.
Once you’ve considered the costs and how much you are likely to be able to afford, it’s time to shop for a mortgage and secure an agreement in principle from a lender so that you know the funds will be available.
With the security of a mortgage agreement in principle, you can then try finding the home you want to buy. This means visits to estate agents – either in person or online – and familiarisation with the neighbourhoods in which you are looking to buy.
Unless you have one already, this is also the time that you might think about instructing a solicitor to do the formal legal work necessary for conveyancing of the home you want to buy.
Your home buying adventure moves up a notch, of course, when you find a property you would like to buy. This is the point at which you will need to secure your interest by making an offer or negotiating the price.
The survey and valuation
Not only will this be required by your mortgage lender, but a condition survey and professional valuation may also give you additional leverage with which to refine any further negotiation with the vendor on price.
Whilst your solicitor sets about the necessary searches and preparation of the legal documents, you may then look to finalising the mortgage agreement and set a date for a formal exchange of contracts with the vendor. Since the latter is a formal contract to purchase and is accompanied by your payment of a deposit, it might be seen as an effective “point of no return”.
All that remains at this stage, therefore, is to agree a date for your move and, with the help of your solicitor to tie up the last of the contract details, before you are able finally to move in to your new home!