Buying Process

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1Finding a property you can afford

Before you start hunting for your dream home, it’s a good idea to calculate the amount you can realistically afford to spend on buying a property and for your future mortgage payments.

Consider how you would cope if your situation changes or if interest rates rise. It is important not to overstretch yourself. It is important to remember that your savings need to cover not just your deposit but expenses such as mortgage fees and stamp duty.

Current stamp duty rates are as follows:

Minimum property purchase price Maximum property purchase price Stamp Duty rate (only applies only to the part of the property price falling within each band)
£0 £125,000 0%
£125,001 £250,000 2%
£250,001 £925,000 5%
£925,001 £1.5 million 10%
Over £1.5 million - 12%

Buyers of additional residential properties, such as second homes and buy-to-let properties, will have to pay an extra 3% in Stamp Duty on top of current rates for each band. This increased rate applies to properties bought for £40,000 or more.

2 Making an offer

Once you’ve found a home you want to buy, the next step is to make an offer in writing. We will put this forward to the vendor without delay and advise of their reply.

3Organise a solicitor and surveyor

The solicitor handles the legal work around the property. The valuation surveyor will attend on the lenders behalf to check that the property is worth the price that you are paying and (if required) the building surveyor will visit to check for problems which might impact on the cost of the home.

Your solicitor will tell you how much you can expect to pay and may ask for a deposit upfront – this is typically 10% of their fee. Typical costs can vary between £500 - £1,500 (+ VAT).

Your solicitor submits searches to the local council to check whether there are any planning or local issues that might affect the property’s value. Typical costs are between £250 - £300.

4Exchanging contracts

Before signing the contract, go through it with your solicitor to check that all the details are correct. Make sure that you are happy with what the sellers have agreed to leave in the property and that all queries have been answered.

Once you’ve exchanged contracts you’ll need buildings insurance in place to cover the structure of the property. At this stage, you and the seller are committed to the sale.

5Completion and final steps

There is typically a four week deadline between exchange of contracts and completion of the sale but both the buyer and seller can agree to a different timeframe. Once the sale is completed you will have to pay a number of charges:

The remaining money owed to buy the property is now transferred from your solicitor’s account to the seller’s solicitor’s account. Since some of the money comes from the mortgage provider there will be a Telegraphic Transfer Fee with a typical cost of around £25-£50.

You may also have to pay a mortgage account fee. This fee is charged by the lender for setting up, maintaining and closing down your mortgage account. It is often added to the mortgage, which means you’ll pay interest on it, so consider paying it up front instead. Typical cost around £100-£300.

You’ll now need to pay your solicitor’s bill (minus the deposit and local searches if you’ve already paid them). Typical cost: £500-£1,500 plus 20% VAT. Your solicitor will register the sale with the Land Registry for properties in England and Wales.

Buyers of homes costing over £125,000 have 30 days from the completion date to pay Stamp Duty. Your solicitor will arrange this for you.