You have decided to buy a home - but what next? The maze of legal work, negotiations, dealing with surveyors and solicitors, finding a good mortgage deal and worrying about your deal falling through, on top of actually hunting down the home of your dreams, is enough to make anyone's hair stand on end.
Buying a house is one of the biggest financial decisions that you will make in your life. It is a lengthy and complicated business, which while exciting is often fraught with stress and worry. But luckily there is a lot of good advice around helping you to make your home-buying experience as easy and problem-free as possible.
After finding a home you like, which can take anything from a few days to many months, the process from having your offer accepted to completion of the sale takes about 12 weeks. This is about twice as long as in many other countries - home-buying in Britain is a notoriously drawn-out business.
It is important to have a good understanding of the process as it will help you to avoid some of the most common hazards of home-buying. The first thing you need to do is decide how much you can afford. You will need to look at how much money you have available yourself and how much you can borrow;
Before finally deciding how much to spend on a property, you need to be sure you will have enough money to pay for all the additional costs. These include:
- Survey fees
- Valuation fees
- Stamp Duty Land Tax
- SDLT calculator
- Land registry fee
- Local authority searches
- Fees, if any, charged by the mortgage lender or someone who arranges the mortgage, for example, a mortgage broker
- The buyer's solicitor's costs
- Removal expenses
- Any final bills i.e. gas and electricity, from your present home which will have to be paid when you move.
There are a number of ways in which you could find a property to buy:
- Using estate agents
- Looking at the property pages in local newspapers
- Contacting house building companies for details of new properties being built in the area
- Looking on the internet.
Estate agents must comply with laws that protect consumers from unfair sales and marketing practices. More information on these laws and what you can do to make buying a home run more smoothly is available from:
- www.oft.gov.uk — Office of Fair Trading (OFT)
- www.conveyancer.org.uk — The Council for Licensed Conveyancers
- www.lease-advice.org.uk — The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE)
BSE Mayfair is a member of The Property Ombudsman Scheme for Residential Sales Agents and will comply with the Scheme's Code of Conduct (full details can be found at www.tpos.co.uk).