9 Step Guide to Buying a House

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Whether you’re looking to purchase for the first time, relocating, upsizing, downsizing or investing in property, we can help you find the property that makes you feel at home, and support the entire home buying process. We get rid of the jargon to have clear, transparent conversations, allowing you to make informed decisions swiftly and easily. We’ve put this basic 10-step guide together to help ease your property journey, and our team at Peter Ball & Co are always on hand to help answer any questions you have and guide you along the way.

1. Determine your budget

Before you begin your property search, it makes sense to arrange your finances first. Buying a property is probably going to be one of the largest purchases you will ever make, so establishing exactly how much money you have to fund your purchase will save you time and avoid disappointment further down the line.

Work out what your budget is by considering your income, savings, which mortgage is right for you, and how much you’ll get for selling your old home (if you have one to sell). If you do have a property to sell, the first step is an up-to-date market valuation, which Peter Ball & Co can help with.

2. Select the right mortgage

Whether you’re applying for your first mortgage, re-mortgaging. or securing a mortgage for an investment property, speaking to an expert in this field is essential, as they will guide you towards the right provider. Speaking to a financial adviser and obtaining an agreement in principle from your chosen lender will give you the confidence on your budget, and will show any owner of a property on the market that you are a serious buyer, and have done your homework.

3. Choosing your next home

Property websites have made the process of finding a new home easier than ever. However, you may not be aware that some of the best properties with desirable locations, price or size, sell before they are listed on the larger property portals.

We recommend registering with Peter Ball & Co - which you can do online or by dropping in to see us in one of our five branches - where we can discuss your requirements for your next home with you. Once we have a clear understanding of your requirements, you’ll receive a selection of properties that match your criteria. We can also keep you up-to-date with the latest properties before they go online via our email alerts.

When registering, it’s best to be open-minded and not too specific about your requirements, and would recommend using ‘preferred’ over ‘essential’ (unless it really is an absolute must for you!)

Whatever you’re looking for, with large range of properties available at all times, we’re confident we can find the right home for you.

4. Viewing a property

Our offices are open Monday to Saturday, so convenient for after-work viewings or viewings at the weekend

We always advise our sellers for Peter Ball & Co to conduct viewings, but sometimes sellers want to present too, which can be to your advantage, as they can answer questions that we won’t know the answer to, such as what the neighbours are like. Similarly, it’s worth making a note of things like which direction the garden faces, parking arrangements, what time of heating the house has, and what type of windows/insulation the property has. Make sure you look at the EPC, too, and also check out if there are any guarantees in place on work recently completed. Why not take a notepad with you when you view, too, so you can make notes as you walk around, and don’t forget to ask lots of questions. Anything we don’t know the answer to, we’ll find out for you after the viewing.

Once you’ve viewed the property, provide your estate agent with feedback on the property. This will help them get a greater understanding of your wants and needs for a property.

5. Making an offer

Congratulations! You've found a property you want to buy! The next step is to reach an agreement with the seller on the price, which will be put forward by one of our experienced sales team.

Think about this carefully, and consider any mortgage limitations, how the property compares with others you have seen, and how well it meets your requirements. You also need to think about other interested buyers and what would happen if your offer is not accepted.

There is a common misconception that you should not pay the asking price, but this very much depends on the property. There are lots of examples of properties selling at the asking price and, in some cases, going over the asking price where there has been interest from lots of buyers.

At this time, we recommend that you are also looking into conveyancers, or, ideally, have chosen your solicitor. Instructing your solicitor early can kick-start the sales process, and mean that there is no delay once your offer has been accepted.

6. Arrange conveyancing

Once your offer has been accepted, we will prepare a comprehensive memorandum of sale pack. This will include: property particulars; a fixture and fittings list; an Energy Performance Certificate; a chain sheet with all relevant buyers and sellers; contact details of solicitors, and a guide to the buying process together with an overview of the conveyancing process.

At this stage we will also need copies of your ID, and for you to confirm your chosen conveyancer. Conveyancing is the legal process by which property transfer from the ownership of one person to another. Should you need any help or advice choosing a conveyancer, Peter Ball will be able to recommend some local companies whom you can speak with.

Once the offer has been agreed, we will also need your mortgage lender/broker’s details, including proof of funds, and - if a mortgage is required - a mortgage agreement in principle. Again, if you need any help with this, Peter Ball & Co works with an independent mortgage advisor who can help you with your finances.

7. Arrange a survey

There are three main types of survey: a mortgage valuation; a homebuyer report and a building survey.

If you are buying your new home with a mortgage, then your bank/building society will normally insist on a mortgage valuation to establish that the property is good security for the loan. The buyer will normally pay for the mortgage valuation, but very rarely gets a copy of the report, so we always recommended that you arrange your own survey too.

A homebuyer report is ideal for more conventional residential property, built within the past 75 to 100 years. The report will include a detailed report on all visual aspects of the property that are available for inspection.

A building survey (also referred to as a full or structural survey) is suited to older properties, or properties which may have different forms of construction or undergone major changes.

Peter Ball & Co always recommend local, independent surveyors that are familiar with the local types of construction and know our local areas well. We are happy to put you in touch with our recommended local surveyors who will be able to discuss the type of survey needed for your purchase.

Often a private survey can help you avoid expense in the future by highlighting defects you may not have spotted, but as a minimum it should reassure you that everything is okay with the property.

8. Exchanging Contracts

The exchange of contracts is the legally binding part of the process and occurs when the contract has been signed by both parties, and when you, the seller and your respective solicitors/conveyancers are satisfied that everything is in order. Your deposit (the normal sum or liability of which is 10% of the purchase price) will need to be logged with your solicitor ahead of exchanging of contract.

A date for completion - or moving - date is also agreed at this stage, and once contracts have exchanged, both parties are legally bound to go through with the transaction. Completion dates usually happen an agreed amount of time after the exchange, although exchange of contracts and completion can occur on the same day. For most people, completion day is the day that you will move into the property.

9. Completion

This is the last step in the process, and is the day that the balance of monies is transferred via the banking system from your solicitor to the seller’s solicitor. Most importantly, once monies have cleared, this is the day you will get the keys to your new home!

Congratulations, you’re now a homeowner!

Sell your property with us