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The Property Scene Buying guide

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Before you begin looking for a house, it’ is a good idea to work out the amount you can afford to spend on buying a property and on your monthly mortgage payments. Consider how you will cope if your financial situation changes, or interest rates rise, and be careful not to overstretch yourself. Remember your savings will have to cover not just the deposit but expenses such as mortgage fees. Once you’ve found a mortgage and agree a mortgage ‘in principle’. This tells you how much money the lender is likely to offer and the interest rate you will pay.

Now you will need to consider what aspects of a property are most important to you. for example the number of bedrooms / bathrooms, parking provisions, whether you want a separate kitchen and dining room, or a private garden, conservatory and how much time/money you may want to spend redecorating.

Contact local estate agents and tell them exactly what type of property you are looking for and the elements that you could possibly compromise on. Also inform them what you don't want and whether you have a mortgage agreed in principle.

Once you’ve found a home you want to buy, the next step is to make an offer, through your estate agent. Once the sale is agreed, the solicitor will handle the legal work around the property and the surveyor will survey the property to check for problems, which might impact on the cost of the home.

Your solicitor submits searches to the local council to check whether there are any planning or local issues that might affect the property’s value.

This is carried out by the lender to make sure the property is worth the price you’re paying before they approve the mortgage. Once the survey is complete you may need to go back andrenegotiate the price of your new home. There are two reasons for this

•The lender may value the property at a lower price leaving you with a shortfall, meaning you won’t be able to match the asking price or what you originally intended to offer
•Your survey may uncover problems with the property that will be expensive to fix. You can use this information to ask for a reduction in price

It’s this stage in the process that is often most stressful. Delays and problems can arise from a variety of situations but your estate agent will be able to help you through the process. If there are no problems or delays, then you should receive the contract to sign and complete the purchase.

Before signing the contract, go through it with your solicitor to check that all the details are correct. Make sure you are happy with what the sellers have agreed to leave in the property and that all your queries have been answered.

At this stage, you and the seller are committed to the sale. Once you’ve exchanged contracts you’ll need buildings insurance in place to cover the structure of the property.

There is typically a four week deadline between exchange of contracts and completion of the sale but both the buyer and seller can agree to a different timeframe.