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10 essential steps when buying a home

You’ve been searching, viewing and considering properties for months and the day has finally come. Now the offer you have made on a house has been accepted, what next?

10 essential steps when buying a home


Congratulations – the searching, house viewings and big decisions have paid off and your offer on the house of your dreams has been accepted. Although it may seem like all the hard work is over, you are still at the early stages of the property purchase and able to pull out of buying the house without facing a financial penalty should you change your mind.

Additionally, the seller of the property can still decide to take a higher offer from somebody else, or choose to not move at all.

Before the property is legally yours there are still several steps to go through in your property transaction.

  1. Take the property off the market
  2. Find a conveyancing solicitor
  3. Complete your mortgage application
  4. Hire a surveyor
  5. Get quotes for a removals company
  6. Exchange contracts and pay deposit
  7. Confirm completion date
  8. Complete
  9. Pick up keys
  10. Move In
 

1.    Ask the estate agent to take it off the market

Although this is something that many estate agents will do once an offer has been accepted, it is worth asking to make sure that the house is taken off the market as soon as possible. Doing this reduces the possibility of another home buyer visiting the property and making a higher offer.

If you don't take your property off the market then you may risk being gazumped which is when another buyer offers more money for the house and your seller decides that they want to go with the new higher offer instead of your original agreement. Taking your property off the market will reduce the chances of this happening as no new buyers will be able to see the property.
 



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2.    Appoint a conveyancing solicitor

It is your conveyancing solicitor that will complete the legal aspect of your move, therefore it is important that you appoint a professional and reputable solicitor that is aware of the checks and searches relevant to your property.

All conveyancing solicitors partnered with reallymoving.com are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Council of Licensed Conveyancers, so when you receive your quotes you will be confident that the conveyancer undertaking your transaction is professional and experienced.

3.    Complete mortgage application

For the majority of home buyers, a mortgage will be needed to fund the house purchase. Once your offer has been accepted you will need to fill in a mortgage application form and provide your lender with the necessary documentation.

The documentation they will require includes:

  • Proof of ID

  • Proof of address

  • Proof of earnings

  • Recent bank statements.

To facilitate the early stages of your move, it will help to have already researched the mortgage you’ll be getting and have an agreement in principle from the lender, as it’s likely the estate agent will want to know details of how you will finance the purchase before they put your offer forward to the vendor.

Once you've finalised the details for your mortgage the lender has to give you a full week (7 days) to decide whether you want them to be your mortgage provider so this is a good time to do another mortgage comparison and check the details. It's possible to pull out of a mortgage application at any point before exchanging contracts, however you may lose money if you leave it until the last minute. 
 



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4.    Organise an independent survey from a RICS surveyor

Although your mortgage lender will be organising a mortgage valuation survey for the property, it is important to commission an independent survey from a RICS Chartered Surveyor for a detailed report on your potential new home.

The mortgage valuation is conducted for the benefit of the lender to ensure the property is worth what is being paid for it and thus the security of the mortgage. A house survey is performed by a RICS Chartered Surveyor for the home buyer’s best interests. It will include an in-depth, impartial account of the structural condition of the property that will assist with your decision about whether to proceed with the purchase.

You can find out more information about why you should not rely exclusively on your mortgage valuation here.

Once you've had the survey completed you may want to check and see if you can renegotiate the price of the house if there are any outstanding issues that will require fixing once the purchase has been completed. 
 

5.    Get quotes for a removal company

You won’t have an exact move date to give them yet, but it is worth getting in contact early with a removal company so you can ensure there is time for a pre-move survey to assess the volume of your belongings. You will also be able to discuss the requirements of your move and whether there are any parking restrictions at either address.

To find the best price for your removal, you can compare quotes from Ombudsman-regulated, professional removal companies.

6.    Exchange contracts and pay deposit

Once your mortgage has been approved and the searches have been completed by your conveyancing solicitor you will now be able to sign and exchange contracts which legally commits you to the purchase of the property. You will then be asked to pay the deposit, which is usually 10% of the property’s value. Through the government’s Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee scheme it can, however, be reduced to 5%.

At this stage of the transaction you can no longer pull out without losing your deposit and further costs that were incurred.

7.    Confirm date of completion and date of move

The contracts have been exchanged and the deposit has been paid, you can now agree a completion date.

On the day of completion the vendors will have to vacate the property, so once you have this date you will be able to organise a day for you to move into the property. You will then be able to confirm the date and the details of your move with your removal company.

Although the time between exchange of contracts and completion can be anything from days to months, it is usually between 5 and 20 working days.

8.    Completion

At the stage of completion the mortgage lender releases the funds for the cost of the property and ownership of the house is transferred from the vendor to the buyer.

The house is now legally yours.

If you need to pay Stamp Duty for your house then you have up to 30 days to from completion to pay the charge. This will normally be done through your solicitor, who will also need to be paid after everything else has been sorted out. 
 

9.    Pick up keys

Following completion, you can now pick up the keys to your new home from the vendor’s estate agent. It is best to organise a date with the estate agent a couple of weeks in advanced, to ensure both parties keep a convenient time free.

It is recommended, if possible, to pick up the keys before the moving date to reduce the amount of time your removal company will be waiting at either property.

10.    Move in

Congratulations – you’re in! Except for some unpacking, but this can be done at a leisurely pace, all that is left to do is to relax and enjoy your new home.

The hard work is now finally over.


Last Updated: August 2018

Comments (17)

  • sandra ottway

    posted on 29 Jun 2015

    thanks, it was really useful, we are at stage 6 (exchange contracts) im so excited

    Jamie Meredith

    posted on 17 Jun 2016

    This was a great read, our offer has just been accepted so it was nice to see the steps left. Getting very excited!!! :)

    Kenny philip

    posted on 25 Aug 2016

    Easy steps to understand and very helpful. Thanks kenny

    mrs P

    posted on 31 Jan 2017

    Oh thank God you explained that to me. The estate agent's pushing for solicitors next day post accepting the offer making my life very stressful. Now I'm more confident as I know how to go about it ! Thank you

    Zack

    posted on 16 Jul 2017

    Excellent guide, was totally lost as a first time buyer, at stage 1 sadly .. awaiting sellers feedback on offer

    Lindsey

    posted on 18 Aug 2017

    We made an offer which was accepted but the vendors won't take it off the market despite us asking. Is this ok? Is there no rule estate agents have to follow regarding this?

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Lindsey, 
    Unfortunately the estate agents are not obliged to take it off the market, but this is down to the seller. If your offer is 'accepted' but the property still looks like it's on the market, your seller may think they can get a higher price further down the line, which will leave you 'gazumped'.
    This would be a particular shame if you then spend money on surveys etc, only to lose out on the property. Be upfront with the agents, ask why it's still up, and consider if your offer was significantly below the asking price, how much you're willing to fight for the property. If it had been for sale for quite a while, you can consider whether you want to threaten withdrawing your offer unless the property is taken off the market, but this can be risky.
    Good luck,
    The reallymoving team
     

    Julie

    posted on 6 Sep 2017

    We are the seller and had accepted an offer OVER TWO MONTHS AGO. However, our buyer is unwilling to commence the conveyancing process and has, despite several requests, not even given us her solicitors contact details deeming it impossible to even start the ball rolling! We originally had a mutual sales agreement whereby she would pay a small deposit in order to 'hold' the property as sold, however she has twice requested this deposit be delayed - there has been no contact now for over 3 weeks, she is refusing to answer our telephone calls or reply to our emails, this silent treatment is extremely frustrating. We would like to think that if she has now decided against the purchase she would at least let us know out of common courtesy. She does seem quite keen to buy the property, but keeps moving the goal posts and in effect, delaying the completion by some margin. Our property is still on the open market, but we have had very little other interest apart from this 'buyer' - what can we do to encourage her get the process moving? We are getting desperate!

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Julie,

    Sorry that this sounds like such a stressful situation. Whilst the potential buyer has technically had the offer accepted, if she has not paid the 'holding' deposit that you agreed on after two months, it does not seem that she's serious about the offer. You could say that you're going to put the property back on the market unless the deposit is paid, and at least that way you may get a definitive answer. It may be worth considering if you want to continue with a buyer who has drawn out the process and is not responding to your calls and emails. You would be wise to chat to a conveyancing solicitor to get an expert assessment of the situation and where to go next.
    Best of luck, 
    reallymoving

    Rebecca

    posted on 3 Oct 2017

    Really useful guide! Frustratingly waiting to see whether our offer has been accepted, we were meant to find out but now the estate agents want us to come in and talk about mortgage! Does this mean they just want to check we have the money/can borrow the money? I hope it means we are in a good position or else why would they bother!

    Reallymoving response

    It seems the estate agents are eager to move on to the next stage, and be sure that everything is in order if/when a purchase goes ahead. As you say, hopefully that's a good sign.
    Best of luck Rebecca!

    Kaz

    posted on 22 Oct 2017

    Very good read. I’ve just got the offer today so really happy after 6 months and previous company cancelled the application twice. Can’t wait now!!

    Emma

    posted on 13 Nov 2017

    Found this article really useful, especially for fist time buyers like myself to follow steps. I'm now on stage 7 and couldn't be happier. Thanks for posting it.

    Jaqueline B-C

    posted on 22 Jan 2018

    Thank you for this article!!! Just got our offer accepted today, and wanted to know where to go from here! So excited and now more educated as to the process

    Dean

    posted on 11 Feb 2018

    Hi thank you. This is very useful information. We are buying our first property and we are at point where we was waiting for the sellers solicitors to answer enquiries this week (which was about a power of attorney) this should be done Wednesday. What happens after that as we signed contracts and sent it back to our solicitors. We really need to be in the house ASAP! We have asked for completion and exchange on same day. How long will the rest take? House is already empty and there is no chain. Thanks Dean and Charlotte

    Jeanette Knight

    posted on 12 Feb 2018

    Please can you advise what to do next? In 2016 I viewed a property and made an offer that was accepted. The seller found a property so I arranged for a survey - this was completed. The solicitor started the process, I signed the contracts by post, they were sent back and had a completion date 2nd of December 2017. I organised the removals to find out that the lady pulled out of her purchase, all my belongings are packed and ready to go for the last 12 months. I am very depressed about the whole process - can you help me?

    HT

    posted on 21 Feb 2018

    How long does the process usually take from the offer being accepted to exchange of contracts? My husband and I currently have a mortgage in principle, but we think we can get a higher mortgage elsewhere. We have put an offer on a house, if it gets accepted do we still have time to get a mortgage in principle from somewhere else? The extra money will really help with the house. I just wanted to see if you could offer some advice. Thanks

    Reallymoving response

    Hi there,
    The mortgage in principle is just proof that you are capable of getting a mortgage. You do not have to follow through with a mortgage from the provider you got the mortgage in principle from. You will still be able to look for a mortgage elsewhere after the offer is accepted.
    Best of luck!
    The reallymoving team

    Hayley jade Jones

    posted on 2 Mar 2018

    Hi we are on step 4 very excited about this . We have cash buyer buying our property and no chain when we get our new home , not sure how long it will take to get a date etc

    CM

    posted on 19 Mar 2018

    Very Helpful info thanks. We put a full asking price offer in on a house 2 weeks ago after viewing, we had to chase up company for an answer, only to be told that someone had upped the price, we then put forward a higher offer and was told it had been accepted. I did request with our offer that property would be removed from market. We have now got mortgage arranged with proof of deposit and valuation for building society done, A local solicitor has been instructed and relevant details passed to all parties concerned. Today I had a call from the other agency offering me a viewing!! No one had informed them of our offer. How are these practices still allowed? It is about time estate agents had to fall into line with the rest of the business world. After all it is the biggest purchase most people will make in there lives.

    zeida

    posted on 12 Jul 2018

    I put on an offer on a house which the agent accepted they wanted my solicitor details which I have them straight away after 2 day I phoned a surveyor he came out the following day he told me the report will be ready in 3 days which was,Tuesday but then Monday agent rang me someone has put a higher offer in so I straight away rang the surveyor to cancel the survey because someone has put an offer in higher then me. can u please tell me do I have to pay full amount for the survey report which i don't need anymore.

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Zeida,

    Sorry to hear this happened. If the surveyor has done the work, it's likely you're going to need to pay them for their time. However you could talk to the agent about selling on the survey to the new buyers, if they are open to such an arrangement.

    Best of luck,
    reallymoving

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