Buying a House

Whether you’re buying a house for the first time, moving home or adding to your property portfolio, First4Lawyers can help with the legal aspects.


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What are the stages of buying a house?

Buying a new property can be stressful and overwhelming, and you’ll likely have a million things on your mind. But it can help to break the process down into stages. These are the six main steps that will be involved when you buy a property:

  1. Finding a home you can afford
    This might sound obvious, but it’s easy to be caught out by unexpected costs when buying a property. Keep in mind expenses such as Stamp Duty, legal fees and mortgage payments. We’d suggest arranging a mortgage in principle as this will help you to understand what you can afford.
  2. Making an offer on a property
    When you’ve found your ideal property, the next stage will be making an offer. This is a big step, so make sure to carefully think about the offer you put forward. This is your opportunity to negotiate on price and what will be included – like fixtures and fittings.
  3. Arranging surveys and searches
    Next, you’ll need to arrange for a surveyor to check the property for any problems which could affect you financially. You’ll also need to instruct a solicitor to assess whether there any restrictions surrounding the land or property – this is known as a ‘search’.
  4. Finalising the offer
    After your survey and searches are complete, it will be time to finalise your offer. Remember to bear in mind the results of your survey at this point. If problems were revealed that could cost you more, you might want to consider renegotiating on the price of the property.
  5. Applying for a mortgage
    When your offer has been accepted, your next step will be to apply for a mortgage. You’ll be asked to provide a form of identification, proof of your address and proof of income. You may also need to complete a mortgage interview.
  6. Exchanging contracts
    When you exchange contracts, the sale becomes legally binding. You’ll also be able to arrange a completion date at this point, which is when you’ll be granted access to your new home.

With the right support, the process of buying a house can be made relatively straightforward. This is where a solicitor or a conveyancer could help you. Our conveyancing solicitors have years of experience in this area, and they could help to remove some of the pressure from your shoulders.

What to look for during a house purchase

There’s no denying that looking for a property is exciting, and it can be tempting to act rashly to get the house you want. But it’s important that you also look at what might need to be done to the property before you take ownership.

It’s likely that some of the houses you view will be staged when you arrive. So try to look past this and see if you can spot any problems like flaking paint or any smells. Both of these things could mean the house has a damp problem, which can be expensive to fix.

We’d also suggest scouting out the area that each property is in. For example, if you have children, you’ll want to know that there are good schools nearby. You can also examine police crime-mapping sites to get a sense of how much criminal activity takes place in the area.

How long does it take to buy a house?

Every house purchase is different. This means that your timeline could be shorter or longer than someone else’s, even if the property is similar or in the same area.

Buying a property will normally take around 12 weeks. But depending on your circumstances, the process could take up to six months. Some of the factors that can delay a purchase include:

  • Delays to your mortgage being approved
  • Disagreements with the seller of the property
  • How long the chain you’re involved in is
  • Problems revealed by a surveyor
  • The number and type of searches necessary

Your solicitor or conveyancer’s role is to handle the legal paperwork involved in your property purchase, minimising the risk of delays wherever they can. They’ll keep the process moving forward, so you can get settled into your new home as soon as possible.

How much will buying a house cost?

Buying a house is likely going to be the biggest investment you’ll ever make. But aside from the house price itself, there are other costs associated with a house purchase. For instance, your conveyancer or solicitor will charge you a fee for their work.

Most home-buying conveyancing fees come to between £800-£2,000. But this can depend on a number of factors – such as where you’re buying, the property type and how complex the purchase is going to be.

You will also have to pay for any searches or checks needed to transfer the property over to you, as well as Stamp Duty Land Tax where applicable. If you’re using a removals company or making modifications to the property, you’ll need factor these costs in, too.

New build houses – what to consider

If you’re buying a new build house, there may be extra things to think about – especially if the property you’re considering is still being built. It’s not as straightforward as buying a pre-existing home, but your conveyancer can help to simplify things.

It’s easy to assume that if you’re purchasing a newly built property, there will be nothing to fix. But this isn’t always the case. We’d suggest arranging a snagging survey before making your offer. These surveys are specifically designed for new build properties, and will reveal any minor or major issues.

There may also be extra costs associated with buying a new build house. This will likely include a reservation fee, which is usually deducted from the final purchase price and is typically non-refundable if you decide to pull out of the purchase.

It may be more difficult to get a mortgage for a new build house, too. So make sure you take this into account when looking for a property.

Do I need a solicitor to buy a house?

There is no legal requirement to use a solicitor when buying a property, but it can make the process much simpler. This is largely because they will communicate with the seller, estate agent, HMRC and the land registry on your behalf. So you can focus on getting ready for your move.

Your solicitor will also review the contracts detailing your purchase, and they’ll be responsible for raising any queries to ensure the process moves along as smoothly as possible. This will bring you the additional reassurance that any potential issues will be acted on quickly.

Our conveyancing solicitors understand how daunting the process of buying a house can be – especially if you’re a first-time buyer. But they also know that the right help can make the journey to getting your keys easier.

Just answer a few simple questions about what you need and get instant quotes for your house purchase.


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