Buying Your First Investment Property

For those looking to purchase property in the United Kingdom, whether as their primary residence or as buy-to-let investment, the process is quite a convoluted one. On average (if things go to plan) an average house purchase takes around 3 months from start to finish, from the acceptance of the offer to completion.

The whole process can seem to drag on, especially if you don’t know exactly what’s involved, so we thought it would be a good idea to give you a rundown of what to expect and how to ensure that you aren’t delaying things. The following information relates to house purchases in England, as the process in Scotland and Wales does differ slightly and uses different industry jargon.

Be Ready

When you put your offer in, it’s imperative that you are ready to proceed. That means, you should have everything in place in terms of your mortgage and that you’ve got all the funds ready to pay for any associated legal costs. Typically speaking, many of these things are not payable until completion, but if something you haven’t accounted for pops up and you aren’t able to cover it, it may put your purchase at risk.

Until contracts are exchanged, there’s nothing legally binding to an arrangement where a seller accepts your offer, so the last thing you want to do is to be aggravating either the estate agent or the property owner or you could find yourself being ‘gazumped’ by someone else who is deemed to be ‘more serious’ than you. Not being ready, is a good way to aggravate both.

Get Your Mortgage Confirmed

When we say that you should have your mortgage sorted out, this doesn’t mean that you should just work out that you’ll be able to afford it using an online calculator. What it means is that you need to have already applied and been accepted for a mortgage for the necessary amount to proceed with the purchase.

If you’re buying the property for buy to let purposes, this is something that you’ll need to disclose when you apply, as a standard mortgage will not be suitable. Fail to do so and you run the risk of having our mortgage offer withdrawn and holding things up.

Instruct a Conveyancing Professional

Getting a conveyancing solicitor in your corner is an absolute must when buying a property, for a number reasons. There’s a lot of necessary paperwork to get through and it pays to have a professional chasing things for you, as this side of the process can really drag on otherwise. Also, their industry knowledge will be used to advise you of what stage the sale is at and what the predicted completion date will be.

When making your choice of solicitors, it’s best to go for one that offers a fixed price, so that there are no unpleasant surprises further down the road. We’d also recommend going to a smaller firm of solicitors rather than a larger one, as you’re much more likely to be able to speak to the same person throughout the purchase process.

Sort out Your Surveys

Every house purchase requires some sort of survey. Whether it’s a mortgage lender’s obligatory valuation survey that happens automatically or a full building survey that needs to be organised by your solicitor, at least one type will need to be conducted.

The type of property you’re buying will determine which survey is most suitable, but the general rule of thumb is that a newer property will not usually require a full structural survey, which is a good thing, as they usually cost in the region of £1,000. You only need a full survey if you’re buying an older property or one that has been modified since it was built.

Ultimately though, the decision to survey the property is yours to make and if you’re wanting to err on the safe side, a much better option is the Home Buyer Report (£300-£400), which will take a close look at all aspects of the property and highlight anything of note.

If you simply don’t know, your solicitor should be able to advise you accordingly.

Get Ready to Exchange!

If you’re lucky enough to get to the point of exchange, then this is where things start to get exciting, because you know you’re not far from getting the keys. If you are aware that it is approaching, you should be sure that the funds are available to pay your deposit. It’s important that you realise that this is the point of no return, as pulling out will come at a significant financial cost.

If for any reason, you don’t have the deposit ready in time, you are going to be holding things up and putting everything at risk, which is the last thing you want to be doing after you’ve waited so long to get this point.

Keep Calm and Carry On

One final point to make is to tell you that should do your best to stay calm and relaxed through the process. Of course, you can asked for things to be chased if things drag out, but getting frustrated and wound up helps no one, especially you!

All you can do is make sure that you, yourself, are ready and nothing you’re lagging behind on is holding up the process. The rest is kind of out of your control, so stay relaxed and wait for it to happen and you’ll soon be on the property ladder.

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