So you’ve found the house – what now?

Having the offer you’ve made on a house accepted is actually fairly early on in the house buying procedure so, what do you do next?

Organize a Solicitor

Although you can find a solicitor before your offer is accepted they will oly be able to help you once they know what the specific property is so that they change check things out from the legal angle and see if there are any potential issues you need to be aware of.

Organize a Surveyor

There are two types of survey which can be carried out on a property – valuation surveys and property surveys.  In very simple terms, the valuation survey is to ensure that the price of the property is reasonable given the amount of the mortgage you have requested.  In other words, the surveyor will only do enough to check that the it’s a reasonable risk for the mortgage lender.  A property survey is a much more extensive and aims to identify any potential physical issues with the property.  Property surveys are divided into three types.  Home condition surveys are the basic level of property survey and they cover the key aspects of the property highlighting any major issues.  A home-buyer’s report goes into more detail and there are checks both internally and externally.  A building or structural survey is the most detailed form of report.

Finalising the Offer and Confirming the Mortgage

Although these are two separate steps, they are very much interdependent.  In a best case scenario, the property will be given a complete bill of health by both the solicitor and the surveyor(s), the sellers will be happy with the offer and the mortgage lender will be happy with the valuation.  If this is the case, and if you want to, then you can proceed to the next step.  It’s important to note that this stage is, in effect, the point of no return for both parties.  Up until contracts are exchanged either party, seller, can back out but once contracts are exchanged, if either party pulls out they could quite feasibly be faced with penalties.

If there are any issues identified with the purchase as it has been agreed, then these will either need to be resolved or the purchase abandoned.  It may be possible to resolve issues provided that there is communication between all relevant parties.  If the issues have a financial impact, for example if the surveyor identifies an issue which requires repair, then the sellers may be prepared to accept a lower offer.  Alternatively, if the valuation comes in at less than the agreed sale price, the sellers may also agree to a reduced price.  Getting a mortgage is a necessity for many house purchases and only when this stage has been completed can buyers and sellers move on to the next step.

Exchanging Contracts

As buyers you need to go through the contract thoroughly with your solicitor and need to be absolutely sure you understand everything and are completely happy with it.  In particular you need to be clear about what is and is not included in the sale.  Once you have signed the contract you are committed to the purchase.

Completion and Paying Fees

Completion essentially means registering the sale with the relevant authority and this varies according to the specific part of the country where the sale was made.  It also means paying the cost of the house and the money due to the parties involved in the sale and it may also mean paying stamp duty.

Time scales

The shortest period of time in which to move from offer to completion would be around six weeks.  This assumes that everything is plain sailing and that all parties involved are working at maximum speed with no holidays or any other events to interrupt the process. Buyers should be prepared for the process to take longer and also be ready to keep tabs on the parties involved, checking for progress when appropriate.

It is important to remember that if you do not keep up with mortgage repayments then your home may be repossessed.

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