Buying a property
Our guide to buying a property
Buying a property can be a daunting prospect whether you’re buying your first home, upsizing/downsizing, moving to a new area or buying an investment property. Whatever the occasion, this guide will make the process and the associated costs a little bit clearer.
To make sure you can access all the property-related information you need, we’ve split our guide into easy-to-read sections. Each one contains information on how to take your first steps towards buying a property.
Property buying process
Buying a new property involves a number of steps that must be taken before your new home is secured. This is a process that can be particularly tricky for first-time buyers. Our guide provides a clear summary of how to go about buying a property.
- Review your mortgage options, so you know what you could get.
- Look for the property you’d like to buy.
- Appoint a solicitor, so they are ready to proceed once your offer is accepted.
- Gather the necessary documents and apply for the mortgage directly or via a broker.
- Pay for the valuation, if applicable, so the lender can arrange it. You may also wish to have a more detailed survey done. (The HomeReport is used by lenders in most cases instead of a valuation in Scotland.)
- Pay for the search fees to the solicitor, so they can gather important information in relation to the property.
- Once the lender has assessed the application and they are happy, they issue your mortgage offer.
- When the solicitors are ready, you’ll “exchange contracts” and “complete” (Date of Entry in Scotland).
- After completion, the solicitor will pay the Stamp Duty Land Tax (LBTT in Scotland) and the Land Registry (Land Register in Scotland) fee on your behalf.
Costs in relation to buying a property
The cost of buying a property involves more than the purchase price. Application fees, solicitor and broker fees are just some of the expenses you can expect to pay in addition to your new mortgage, which can make budgeting a little complicated. Here is an easy to navigate summary of the expenses, so you know what you pay and whom you pay it to.
- Application fee
- Arrangement fee
- Valuation fee
- Solicitor fee
- Money transfer fee
Although these costs are typical for most lenders, your chosen deal may not have all of them.
- Broker fee – dependent on the chosen broker company, it may be nothing, a fixed fee or a percentage of the mortgage amount
- Search fees
- Solicitor fee
- Land Registry fee in England and Wales, Land Register fee in Scotland
- Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in England and Wales, Lands and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) in Scotland
- Money transfer fee, disbursements, indemnity insurance and other third-party admin costs
The solicitor will act on your behalf when liaising with 3rd parties and therefore will collect the search fees, Land Registry fee, SDLT and other 3rd party fees from you before paying them to the appropriate organisations.
Property buying schemes
There are many ways of buying a property and choosing the right option can be confusing. If you can’t put down a huge deposit and need a little help, you’ll find lots of property buying schemes.
Council tenants may be able to purchase their home by applying through the Right to Buy or Right to Acquire schemes.
Also, many lenders aim to help first time buyers by involving their family with equity secured on the parents’ house or with the parents or someone else being a guarantor. These require guarantor mortgage arrangements or a so-called “joint borrower – sole proprietor” solution.
How long does a mortgage application take?
Generally, it only takes a few weeks, whereas the legal process normally takes a few months. However, this is a classic case of “How long is a piece of string?”. The answer depends on a number of factors:
In other words, the buyer can significantly influence the time it takes to get a mortgage offer by providing all requested information and documents as soon as possible. Other aspects, like how busy the lender and the valuer are, will be outside your or the broker’s control.