Buying a property advice

Buying a home, whether you are an old hand or doing it for the first time, can be daunting. There are many decisions to make that could either save, or cost you, thousands of pounds. Don’t worry! Here’s our handy step-by-step guide to buying a home.

How much will it cost to move?

This is the first thing you need to calculate, as the legal fees, lender fees, and removal costs, etc., quickly add up. Do this first so there are no nasty surprises down the line.

What size mortgage do I need?

To make things as easy as possible for you, we have our own in-house specialists, ‘Mortgage Matters Direct’ who can offer mortgages from the whole of the intermediary market and search 1000s of mortgages to find the best deal for you. Once a suitable lender has been found, we can then get the all-important ‘Agreement in Principle’ to give you the confidence to start looking for a property.

Searching for your dream home.

Now you have a conception of what you may be able to afford it’s time to start the exciting stuff!

It’s always worth taking the time to visit your local branch in person, where our local experts can discuss in depth exactly what you need and what we can do to help you. We can then register your details for our property alerts so you’ll be amongst the first to hear about homes new to the market, often before they even make it online!

We can advise on up-and-coming areas, or even look further afield at well-connected surrounding towns where you may be able to save money.

To make it even easier for you to search and be kept up-to-date when our office is shut, our high-quality website is completely smartphone- and tablet-compatible. Here, you can utilise our fantastic MyAccount service to view, and manage favourite properties that you’ve shortlisted to view again.

Time to view!

Get yourself booked in as soon as possible. We recommend early viewing as the best properties always move quickly.

Make an offer

This is where your ‘Agreement in Principle’ comes into its own, as it immediately marks you out as a serious buyer, deserving of attention. We will present your offer to the seller, both verbally and in writing and, if your first offer isn’t accepted, don’t be put off –  remember that the seller is also negotiating for the best price.

Should I have a solicitor?

Now that we are getting to the business end of the process and certainly if you have got as far as actually making an offer, you need to get a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal work to transfer ownership of the property to you. Conveyancing may sound boring, but it’s what must happen to make the property legally yours.

In keeping with our aim to simplify everything for you as much as we possibly can, we have our own conveyancing panel which we can recommend, as they operate a fixed fee with no hidden extra costs (excluding disbursements). By keeping the conveyancing in-house a smooth and easier transaction is more often achieved.The panel also work extended opening hours and offer a No Sale, No Fee service.

What happens when a sale is agreed?

When we have the details of both parties’ solicitors, we will confirm that the sale is agreed, subject to contract. You will need to instruct your solicitor to proceed, and for your Mortgage Advisor to proceed with your mortgage application.

Should I protect my mortgage?

It is certainly a good time to consider that option. If the worst happened and  you weren’t around to support your family financially, they could struggle to meet the mortgage payments. The lender might even seek to gain possession of the property.

Time for a full survey?

Your mortgage lender would normally have arranged a survey to confirm that the property is worth what you are being lent. This will not, however, contain information on the condition of the property. Although the decision is entirely yours, we would always advise you to order a full survey to list everything you need to know about your potential home and alert you to any potential problems you may face when you move in.

It’s often possible get the mortgage valuation upgraded to a full survey, or you can commission a separate survey yourself. Our partners, Anderson & Associates, are an independent firm of Chartered Surveyors that specialises in residential property survey and valuation services.

Begin the legal process

Once your offer on a property has been accepted, now is the time to get your conveyancer or solicitor to make a start on the legal process.

Preparation of a contract

The seller’s solicitor will 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.

Property specifics and searches

Your solicitor then contacts the seller’s solicitor to make it clear exactly what is included in the sale, and enquire about other things such as boundaries, any alterations that have been made and any disputes.

Your solicitor will perform searches of Land Registry and local authority information. They will be checking for planning history, and any potential developments around roads, drainage or mining in the vicinity of the property.

Confirmation of mortgage

This is about time you should be in receipt of your mortgage offer, and all the related terms and conditions. You cannot exchange contracts without this.

What about that insurance?

With completion within touching distance, it’s a good time to get some quotes for building & contents insurance. We can offer information on HomeLet insurance policies, which can provide you with cover for accidental damage as well as your own contents. Remember – you will require any insurance policies to begin from the exchange of contracts date.

Contract and moving in!

Your solicitor will tell you when the contract is ready to sign and also agree a date with the seller’s solicitor for exchange and completion (move-in day!). This would be an opportune moment to get some removal quotes, if you haven’t done so already.

Exchange of contracts

Your deposit and the signed contract is sent to the seller’s solicitor. Your intention to purchase the property is now legally binding, and all relevant insurance contracts should now be put into effect.

Don’t forget to tell everyone that you have moved

You must inform all the utility companies who would need to take meter readings, and then there are all your friends, relatives, colleagues and the bank manager (assuming you want them to know!). You may wish to consider if it is worthwhile for the Royal Mail to redirect mail for a period of time too.


Your solicitor pays the balance of the purchase price to the seller’s solicitor. When the money is officially received, the seller’s solicitor informs the estate agent, so the keys can be released to you. Welcome to your new home!