Buying a property
We have compiled some information below based on some of the most common questions we are asked about buying a house and the various processes involved. If you can’t find the information you are looking for about house purchase conveyancing here, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team on 0161 696 6187 for assistance.
How to buy a house
The house buying process starts before you make an offer. Firstly, you need to make sure that you have access to enough savings or money for a suitable deposit, find out how much you can borrow from a mortgage lender and then the search can begin.
In England and Wales, the process from start to finish includes:
- Establishing the costs of buying a home, such as deposit requirements for the properties you are interested in, moving costs, legal fees, stamp duty etc.
- Speaking to a mortgage broker or lender to see how much you’re able to borrow. This sum, combined with your deposit sum and other costs, will establish the ceiling price of properties you can afford to buy
- Start looking for properties and view the houses you’re interested in
- Making an offer on the property you want to buy
- Agreeing a sale (when your offer is accepted)
- Instructing a conveyancing solicitor
- Applying for the mortgage you want
- Waiting for the valuation survey and conveyancing process to be carried out
- Instructing any additional surveys that may be required e.g. structural survey if the house potentially has issues
- Receiving the mortgage offer from your lender
- Exchanging contracts (at which point you are legally obliged to proceed with the purchase)
- Agreeing a completion date and arrange moving into your new home
If you are also selling a property to finance the purchase of your new home then this needs to happen alongside the buying process so that the completion of both properties happens at the same time.
How long does it take to buy a house?
The length of time from your offer being accepted to completing a house purchase can take anywhere between a few weeks and several months, as there are many factors that can affect how complex the process is in each case and how long everything takes.
These factors may include:
- The length and complexity of the chain (if other people’s property sales and purchases are reliant on yours going through, or vice versa)
- The length of time it takes to receive the mortgage offer
- Whether additional surveys are required to satisfy the lender
- The length of the conveyancing process if third parties don’t respond promptly to searches and enquiries
How much deposit do you need to buy a house?
The amount of deposit required to buy a house will depend on several factors, including the value of the property, the amount of money that you can borrow for a mortgage and the requirements of individual lenders. It’s usually somewhere between 5% -20% of the purchase price.
For example, on a house where the price agreed is £200,000, you would need a minimum deposit of £10,000 (5%), and you would also need to be able to borrow enough with your mortgage to cover the other £190,000.
A general rule is that the bigger the proportion of your deposit to the purchase price (known as loan-to-value or LTV), the better the mortgage interest rates you may be eligible for. Depending on your circumstances and eligibility, there may be some home-buying schemes available to you, such as Help to Buy, which is an alternative way to finance part of a larger deposit.
Do you need a solicitor to buy a house?
It’s recommended to use an experienced conveyancing solicitor when buying a house because the process can be complex and the potential consequences if it isn’t done properly can be serious. Some mortgage lenders will also require a professional conveyancing solicitor to handle the legal side of your house purchase as part of their terms and conditions.
When to instruct a solicitor when buying a house?
You should instruct a solicitor as soon as you have an offer accepted on a property, assuming you already have a mortgage agreement in principle (AIP) and are therefore ready to proceed with the house purchase.
How long do solicitors take when buying a house?
The conveyancing process, carried out on your behalf by solicitors when buying a house, can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the individual circumstances of the property involved.
The conveyancing process when buying a house involves making local searches and enquiries to both the seller and official bodies in relation to your prospective new home to help ensure that there are no nasty surprises once everything goes through e.g. asking your local council if there are any development plans in the vicinity that could impact negatively on your home.
This process can be more complex for some properties than others. For example, if the house you want to buy is close to a river or where mining activity has been carried out in the past. The more searches that are required, usually the longer the solicitor’s house buying conveyancing process takes.
How much are solicitor’s fees for buying a house?
The solicitor’s fees for conveyancing when buying a house can vary from firm to firm, but can also be affected by the location, the property’s value and how complex the situation is for the individual house.
For example, if the house is leasehold, it can cost more for conveyancing than if the property is freehold, as more work is usually required by your solicitors. The question ‘how much is conveyancing to buy a house?’ doesn’t have a blanket answer, but an experienced conveyancing solicitor should be able to estimate costs for you when you provide details of the particulars involved.
When do I pay solicitors fees when buying a house?
Some conveyancing solicitors may require a deposit (usually 10% of the estimated final fees) when you instruct them on your house purchase and the rest is due on completion. You may be asked to pay for local searches as and when they are required by the conveyancing process.
You will be provided with a final invoice from the solicitors for your house purchase when the transaction is complete, which you will need to pay within the timescale they provide on the paperwork.