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Home and living

4 Steps to take when buying a house

Once you’ve found the home of your dreams, made an offer, and had that offer accepted, that’s when the real work starts.

The very first thing to do is to ask the estate agent to take the property off the market to reduce the risk of another offer being made. Here are the steps to take when buying a house once an offer has been made.

What happens once my offer has been accepted?

Hiring a solicitor

Once your offer has been accepted, one of the first steps to take when buying a house is hiring a solicitor. You can either appoint a solicitor, a property lawyer, or a licensed conveyancer to complete the conveyancing work. Once you’ve appointed a solicitor, they will complete the following legal work:

  • Your solicitor will receive a copy of the draft contract from the seller, which they will then send to you. Your solicitor will check the contract and negotiate the terms of the draft contract on your behalf. The contract outlines the following:

    • The buyer and seller's details
    • The agreed purchase price
    • Which specific fittings are included in the price (e.g. light fittings, curtain tracks)
    • Details of the seller’s title deeds
  • Your solicitor will complete various searches to find information that might affect the property you’re purchasing. This could include a Local Authority search, as well as searches to verify if the property is in a conservation area, whether the building is listed, and that there are no compulsory purchase orders affecting the property.

  • Your solicitor will put together the contract of sale. This sets out important details such as the sale price of the property and the property boundaries. As soon as they have everything they need in relation to the purchase, they will send you a contract to sign, along with any relevant paperwork. You must read through all the documents and make sure you’re happy with what they say. The seller’s conveyancing team will be doing exactly the same thing at the same time. Your solicitor will then send you a mortgage deed to sign and make the contract formal.

Finalising your mortgage

By now you should know who your mortgage provider will be, so let them know your offer has been accepted. Your mortgage lender will need to ensure that the property's value is at least the same amount as the purchase price you have agreed with the seller. They will sometimes conduct their own checks behind the scenes before finalising the amount they will lend to you.

Arranging a survey

The next step to take when buying a house is to arrange a survey. Your mortgage lender will request a survey of the property to check that the property is suitable for them to offer you a mortgage, and that the price you are paying is in line with the market. You may also wish to instruct your own survey to check that there are no structural (or other) problems with the property. If the survey does come back with any warnings, don’t panic. You are entitled to ask the vendor to fix them, or renegotiate the sale price so that you can cover the costs.

Organising home insurance

One of the most important things to do after you make an offer on a house is to sort your insurance. It is sensible to shop around for home insurance quotes prior to the exchange date, but the insurance will need to be in place from the date of exchange. There may be cancellation charges if you decide to cancel the insurance policy (for example, if the sale of the property falls through). As well as insuring the buildings, it's a good idea to cover your contents too. To obtain a quote, you will need the address and rebuild cost of your property, as well as the value of the contents you need to cover in your new home.

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