4. Future saleability
Most people browse websites when looking for a house such as Rightmove, which states the date that each property went on the market (or when the price was last reduced). If a property you like has been on the market a long time - ask the agent why. It may be because the buyer has had other people interested who have had to pull out of the sale for their own reasons or maybe there is a reason for concern. Ask the agent why the property has been on the market for so long, or if others have pulled out of the purchase then find out why. It could be that their solicitor found out that there were plans for undesirable developments nearby, there's a risk of flooding or there was an issue with the lease, for example. It could just be that the property is over priced in which case don't be afraid to offer them less.
5. Does the property look good on the outside?
First impressions are important. Don't be put off by a dodgy front door as thinks like that can be changed easily. In general, bear in mind if you find an affordable house that looks good on the outside but not so good on the inside, remember the inside can be changed when you have time and money. The construction and location of the property is for keeps.
6. Choosing a good solicitor & understanding the purchase process
Once you have made an offer which has been accepted, you'll need to appoint a solicitor to act on your behalf for the purchase. The entire process usually takes between 8-12 weeks but can take even longer, so understanding the different stages of the sale can make the whole purchase a little less frustrating. Having a good solicitor can make the process so much easier - ask friends and family for recommendations.
- Firstly, once the sale has been agreed, the estate agent will send out the Memorandum of sale to both your solicitor and the solicitor acting on behalf of the seller to confirm the agreed purchase price and swap details of the other parties involved in the transaction, including your details as the buyer, the seller and their solicitors.
- The seller's solicitor will then take some time to obtain a copy of the Deeds from Land Registry (and also the lease if it is a leasehold property, which usually applies to flats as opposed to houses) and get other information needed from the seller. Once they have the details they need, they will then send your solicitor the Contract package.
- Your solicitor will review the Contract package and obtain any searches needed, such as an environmental search for example. Your solicitor may have some queries about the property or the surrounding area so may need to correspond with the sellers solicitor who may need to even refer to the seller for more information.
- Once your solicitor is happy with the responses to any questions asked, they will make arrangements with you to sign the Contract and any deposit will be requested at this stage. When the funds are cleared, you have signed the Contract and your solicitor has received a copy of your mortgage offer (assuming a mortgage is needed) all queries have been answered satisfactorily, then you will be in a position to Exchange Contracts.
- Your solicitor should then contact the seller's solicitor to advise you are ready to exchange contracts and a Completion date is agreed. Once they have agreed a completion date (the date you will receive the keys and own your new home) the solicitors will exchange contracts. At this point both you and the seller are now committed to the sale on the agreed date at the agreed price. Now that you know for certain the date you can move into your new home, you should look to book any time off work that you need, arrange any removal services that you want and also take out insurance for your new home.
- On the Completion date, your solicitor will transfer the money to pay for the property to the seller's solicitor. Once the seller's solicitor confirms receipt of the funds they will authorise the estate agent to hand over the keys of the property to you, although sometimes it is pre-agreed that this will all take place in time for you to collect the keys at midday.
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