What is the timeline for buying a house?

The stages of buying a new home can seem relentless. Once one job is done, another presents itself. But with the right help, it needn’t be so difficult.

To give you the right start, we’ve created a handy timeline for buying a house or flat, so you’ll know roughly what to expect once you’ve had your offer accepted.

Timeline Buying 1

Within first two weeks: Draft contracts

The seller or vendor’s solicitor will now draw up a draft contract and send this to your solicitor, who will then raise preliminary enquiries and make a Land Registry search to prove Title ownership of the property.

Within first month: Searches

Your solicitor will carry out a search with the Local Authority which will reveal any planning consents granted for the property and any other relevant local issues. These cover:

  • Local authority searches
  • Drainage searches
  • Environmental searches

Any questions that come from this search are sent to the seller’s solicitors for further clarification.

Within first month: Survey & valuation

Before agreeing to lend you money, your mortgage lender will require a valuation. Put simply, they want to make sure that the property is worth what you’re going to pay and that they will make a return on their investment.

A survey on the other hand is done by a chartered surveyor and is predominantly for the benefit of the buyer to help them make a more informed decision about the property they’re planning to purchase. Though not compulsory, it’s a sensible action and can give you leverage for negotiation with seller if they find a problem.

There are generally three kinds of survey you can choose from:

  • Snagging survey – Priced up to £300. Usually used for new builds, this could identify problems for the developer to fix before you move in.
  • Homebuyer’s survey – Priced between £400-£700. Suitable for properties aged 50 years or under. Can be conducted at the same time as your valuation, to save money.
  • Full structural survey – Priced up to or over £1000. This is a far more detailed report, covering everything that you should know about your new home. An absolute must if the property is older or listed.

Bear in mind, the surveyor can only check what they see. If access to the attic/basement aren’t possible without lifting up carpets or doing structural damage, they’re not permitted to do this without the seller’s permission.

Our friends at Anderson & Associates can advise you on the survey that would be right for you. Ask about this in-branch.

Month one to two: Contracts approved

Once your solicitor is satisfied with all results from the searches, survey and preliminary enquiries, the contract can be approved.

Month one to two: Formal mortgage offer

This document will be sent to your solicitor for you to sign. Once signed and returned, the mortgage is in place and you are ready to exchange contracts.

Month two: Exchange of contracts

The contract is signed by both you and the seller. The deposit (usually between 5-10% of the purchase price), is transferred or paid by the buyer’s solicitor in the form of a banker’s draft. At this stage the transaction is now legally binding and completion dates are set.

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Month two to three: Completion

This is the date agreed by the seller and the buyer. On completion day, the balance of payment is transferred from your solicitor’s account to the seller’s solicitor’s account. Your solicitor will notify you when you have completed and then you can move into your new home.

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