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Top Tips for buying a property

 

Buying a property is one of the biggest purchases you will make in your lifetime, therefore getting it right is crucial. Our Guild agents are here to help you through the whole process, and we have devised a house-buying guide talking you through some of the most important things to consider when buying your new home.

This guide is split up into three easy readable sections which include information on the real costs of buying, offer advice and a viewing checklist which could make or break your deal.

We’ve made every effort to ensure these tips are as accurate as possible; however, this does not constitute as legal advice tailored to your circumstances. Act on this at your own risk.
 

SECTION ONE: MORTGAGES & FINANCES

Boosting your credit score

It is important to always check your credit score before applying for a mortgage. Simple credit mistakes can cause rejection to your mortgage application - and let's face it, no one likes rejection! There are a number of things you can do to help boost your credit score up to a good place so that you could secure yourself a mortgage. Make sure all active accounts are registered to your current/right address, if something does not align up in your credit history then this could have a lasting effect on your credit score.

Securing a mortgage

First of all, take a look at our mortgage calculator to estimate your repayment plan. Once you understand how much you will need to borrow, think about ways to raise the money. Read our tips for securing a mortgage here.

The real cost of buying

Buying a home isn’t just about paying for the mortgage, you are almost always going to pay more than you initially think. It is important to think about all the other costs, so you can adjust your budget accordingly. Think about factoring in mortgage arrangement fees, valuation and legal fees, stamp duty and survey costs. Speak to our Guild agents for more information or view our budgeting tips here.

First-time buyer finances

Buying a home can be a daunting process therefore when it’s your first time buying a home it is important to know how to budget and what help you can receive. Firstly, think about what you can actually afford, then if you realise you don’t have enough it’s time to start looking for extra funding. Help to Buy is a set of schemes put in place to give you a little helping hand. The Help to Buy ISA pays first-time buyers a government bonus which can boost your savings.. Take a look at our first-time buyer finance page for more help.

 

 

Find out more about Stamp duty for first-time buyers.

 

SECTION TWO: BUYING A PROPERTY

 

Research the area

Before you decide on a property, research the area or areas you are currently considering. Questions to ask yourself are: what are the amenities like? Can you travel everywhere you need to be? Are there good surrounding schools? You may even want to look into the crime levels in the area. All this information can be found online, and it is worth looking into.

 

Use reliable property finders

When searching for your new dream home, sometimes you just don't know where to start. Property finder websites can make the searching process a little bit easier with properties all in one place from different estate agents. Here at The Guild, we make property searching simple; we have a range of properties to buy all under one roof.

 

Get the most out of property viewings

It is important to ask any questions you have while viewing a property you are considering buying, whether you’re speaking directly to the vendor or one of our agents - don’t be afraid to ask. Also, consider viewing the property you’re most interested in at different times of the day, this will allow you to get an idea of what the neighbourhood is like. It is important not to rush your property search, even when you think you have found a property you like, there could be many underlying issues you need to be prepared to deal with first. We have a full property viewing checklist here.

 

Property viewing deal-breakers

You don’t have to waste money on a survey only to discover obvious problems; for a second or third viewing consider taking a realistic friend along with you for their honest opinion. We have put together a small checklist of things you might want to look at in more detail when viewing your a home.

 

Damp

Think about the smell of the property, does it smell musty? Peely wallpaper is often a significant factor in damp. Makes sure to check inside cupboards too (remember to ask permission first).
 

Look at the ceilings

This is something many people forget to do when viewing a property; it is natural for our eyes to just look at everything at and below eye level. However, it is very important to look at ceilings for any brown stains, cracks or even slow drips.
 

Lift mats and rugs

Check for stains and marks lying underneath!
 

Count power points

Make a quick floor plan for each room remembering how many power points there were and where they are so you can then work out where everything could potentially fit into the room. It’s always good to check how old the sockets look as well.
 

Observe outside walls

Check the walls for mould, cracks and rotten woodwork.
 

Check out the neighbours

If you’re buying a flat or terrace house, think about how the neighbouring properties look. Are they run down? Could this cause problems for you and the property you're thinking of buying?

 

The Property Buying Timeline

If you have bought a property before, you will know that buying a property isn't as simple as choosing one you like, getting a mortgage, and then picking up the keys. The property buying process can sometimes become quite complicated depend on a number of things.

Here is the typical buying timeline and process:

 

#1 Finding a property

Depending on how much research you need to do, this section of the process can vary in the amount of time it will take.
 

#2 Putting an offer in/getting a mortgage

The seller may not be happy with your initial offer, therefore, expect at least two weeks for your offer to exchange.
 

#3 Time for the survey

After your offer has been accepted, you need to then get a survey completed on the property you are about to buy. Depending on solicitors and the extent of the survey, this timescale could vary.
 

#4 The exchange

Once you exchange you cannot (easily) back out of the sale - however, it could take up to 4 weeks to fully exchange.

 

#5 Completion

After you have paid the deposit, it’s time to hand the rest of the money over and then you’ll receive the keys. The property then legally becomes yours.

 

Think about the lease time on the property

If you’re buying a property, often people forget to check how long the property has left on it’s lease, when properties have less than 80 years left on the lease it can become difficult to sell and if it’s under 60 years left then it can become even more of a nightmare! In short, if you buy a property that is leasehold, then it means that you own the actual flat or house, but not the land it is situated on. If it is a freehold, then that means you own both the property and land - this is standard for most houses, but don’t let that trick you into not checking whether your home is freehold or leasehold. A short lease can make for a nightmare of issues if you’re looking to extend your property or do any extension constructional work.
 

Remember, if you’re selling your current property, buyers will be looking out for these things too! So, make sure you tackle any of these issues before you’re showing people around.
 

SECTION THREE: THE OFFER
 

How much to offer?

Knowing how much you can afford and being able to supply the evidence to confirm this is so important when thinking about your offer and how much you want to put down. Being confident in your offer isn’t a bad thing either, you don’t have to apologise if it’s not the asking price.
 

Knowing when and if you can pull out of a sale

You can pull out of a purchase at any time before contracts are exchanged, after this it becomes pretty complicated to change your mind without adding a lot of extra costs. Always speak to your solicitors or one of our Guild agents if you’re not sure what action is best to take.
 

Auction properties

Making an offer through a property auction can seem like a much different process. While all the same factors are there the speed at which it all happens is increased massively. Auction properties are often a lot cheaper than market values; therefore it makes sense to look into both prospects. If you are considering buying a property through auctions, we recommend going to a couple first, so you know what to expect. You must get a survey done on a property you are looking to make an offer on at auction - there could be hidden defects to the property if you don’t.

 

Complete the sale

Completion is when you pay for the property in full and officially take ownership of it. During the day of completion, the money is sent across and the official deeds of the property are transferred. The vendor and the buyer will always agree on a completion date in advance, this is normally a working weekday.

 

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