There’s no hiding from it – buying a house can be a complicated and somewhat daunting business, especially if it’s your first time.
It’s a huge step, there are major life changing decisions involved, and then there is all the work involved – mortgage applications and contracts, estate agents and solicitors, surveys and valuations.
Prospective buyers usually welcome any advice for getting through the process. So what do the professionals say? Here are four pieces of wisdom from Hook & Partners, a firm of property solicitors in Essex.
Don’t instruct your solicitor too early
It is easy to get carried away when you find a house that you love and want to rush everything through as quickly as possible. That’s understandable – but there’s a due process to follow in buying a property and if you instruct a solicitor too early, you could end up wasting money. Instructing a solicitor marks the start of the formal transfer of ownership, and before that happens, there are two things you want to have confirmed for definite – a firm acceptance of an offer and a confirmed mortgage in principle.
We hear of buyers all the time instructing a solicitor the moment they put an offer in, or while they’re still waiting for an answer from their mortgage lender. All this means is that you are paying for a solicitor’s time before they can do anything. Get your mortgage in place, wait until your offer is accepted, then instruct.
Do your homework on the solicitor you hire
Buying a home can be a complex, occasionally frustrating process. Especially when it comes to the finer points of conveyancing, a lot of the detail can seem baffling, especially for first time buyers. Your solicitor is your best friend through this process. While it is important to forge a good relationship with estate agents, you have to bear in mind that their job is to sell the property for the best possible price.
The nitty gritty of getting the deal done falls on the shoulders of the conveyancing solicitor, and their job is to get everything completed on your behalf. Do your research, ask friends and family for recommendations, read reviews from previous clients, and take the time to meet and talk to a prospective conveyancer before you instruct them.
Don’t pass up on a property survey
Many home buyers question whether it’s worth getting a property survey and see avoiding one as a way of controlling costs. A conveyancing solicitor’s advice will always be – don’t take the risk. A survey is your chance to check both the condition of the property you intend to buy, and get independent advice on whether the valuation is fair.
This is a different process to a mortgage valuation, which simply looks at the market value of comparable properties in the area.
A survey is there to let you know if you’re about to buy a property that will cost your thousands down the line in repairs, or whether the asking price is masking any hidden structural issues. For the sake of a few hundred pounds, it is well worth the additional peace of mind.
Finally, buying a property can drag on much longer than you would like it to. Everyone wants to complete as quickly as possible and get into their dream new home, but the reality is that all sorts of snags and obstacles can crop up along the way. Especially if you find yourself involved in a chain, there is often not much you can do about these. The best advice is to keep your cool, maintain a dialogue with your solicitor and the estate agent, and trust that things will work out for the best in the end.