Before you begin your property search, getting your finances in order is essential if you want to be in the best position to secure your dream home.
What budget do you have in mind for your home? There are various ways to work out how much you can afford to spend on your mortgage and insurances including writing down all your outgoings and expenses. You can also book an appointment with a mortgage adviser from our partner Embrace Financial Service who will help you work through your budget.
They could also help you in understanding what government support you may be eligible for too which may help you in buying.
For example, there are two government backed Help to Buy Equity Loan schemes available in England which offer loans of 20% towards the purchase of a new build home, provided you pay 5% deposit and raise the remaining funds via a mortgage.
The Help to Buy Equity Loan (2021-2023) scheme is available for purchases from April 2021, and will run until 2023. This is only available to first time buyers.
Do you have enough money saved for your deposit? You are likely to need at least 5% of the purchase price of the house as a deposit. However, if you can save more for a deposit you can often get a cheaper mortgage.
How much you could borrow? Have a look at our latest mortgage deals to find out likely fees and interest rates. You can calculate online how much your repayments would be based on different interest rates with our mortgage repayment calculator. Or you can talk to an Embrace Financial Services mortgage adviser who will be able to discuss the different criteria lenders may have for how they calculate the amount they would be willing to lend you.
Do you know about your credit score? Your credit score could affect your mortgage borrowing ability. You can check your credit score on the internet at sites such as the Credit Expert from Experian, and you can improve it by doing such things as registering to vote.
Searching for your property
With branches across the UK, we could already have your new home on our online property database. Here are a few considerations to help you find the right home and understand what happens next.
Do you know what type of property you want? Think about whether you want a new build property or “second-hand”. Are you happy to be attached to another or keen to be detached? How many bedrooms do you want, do you need a garden or garden?
Do you know the difference between freehold and leasehold properties? You can use our Glossary to find a brief description.
Do you want to live near work, your friends, the gym? Think about the future, will you have a family and need to think about schools? What about proximity to transport routes and other amenities?
Do you know how mortgages work? This guide gives a quick overview, however there is no substitute for first-hand information.
When you have an initial appointment with an Embrace Financial Services mortgage adviser, they will review your needs, current circumstances, and look for a suitable mortgage deal for you from a lender.
Agreement in principle
They will help you apply for an agreement or mortgage decision in principle from the lender. This is confirmation in writing of a lender’s expression of intent to provide funding subject to certain conditions being met but it is not a formal mortgage offer.
When you find a property and make an offer then you will need to make a full mortgage application to the lender. You can find out more in our guide to mortgages.
For mortgage advice, talk to our partners Embrace Financial Services by booking an appointment.
Make sure you know what to look for when viewing a property to be certain that it not only meets your own search criteria but also that you won’t get any nasty surprises if you decide to proceed and make an offer. Here are some things to consider.
State of repair
Does the property require updating? If so, is it just minor cosmetic work, or more major structural improvements? If you really like a property, it may be worth asking a builder to view it with you on a second viewing. They can help identify and damp, mould, cracks, or damage and estimate a repair cost which might be useful for negotiating on price when you make an offer.
Are the rooms big enough – for now and years to come? Do you need one or two bathrooms? Is there sufficient storage? If not, could extra space and storage facilities be added?
Ask to see the current bills – council tax, utilities, to help get an idea of actual costs to live there.
This should be easy if you’ve done your research and identified what you’re looking for so should just be a case of checking against your criteria. Could you see yourself living there?
Making an offer
Do you know about making an offer on a property?
This is where you put forward a price that you would like to buy the property for, to the estate agent acting on behalf of the seller. Their estate agent will put your offer to the seller and the property becomes ‘Under offer’.
If your offer is rejected you could make another, higher offer if your budget allows.
Once your offer is accepted then you can proceed with the purchase and application for a mortgage. The property is usually taken off the market at this point and the property becomes ‘Sold subject to contract.
Do you know the legal process of buying a property?
This is the legal work necessary when buying a property. It can involve local searches to check there is no major work due nearby, ensuring the property and land are legally owned by the current owners and the boundaries are as they are claimed to be, amongst other things. We can put you in touch with a legal firm to handle the conveyancing.
Exchange and Completion
You are legally bound to the purchase of the property at exchange of contracts and you may be required to pay a deposit. Ownership passes to the buyer on completion, at which point the money is transferred to the seller’s solicitor and the deeds to the purchaser or their mortgage lender.
You will need to arrange home insurance for your home. Buildings insurance is usually required as a condition of the lender if you are taking out a mortgage. Contents insurance is unlikely to be a requirement but it is advisable to obtain cover to protect your belongings against accidental damage, loss or theft.
Preventing property fraud
Fraud continues to be a major threat to most of us, when a criminal chooses to act illegally or deceptively to gain access to money, data, personal items or property for their benefit.
Conveyancing Fraud usually occurs on the day of completion of a property transaction. Fraudsters will send a spoof email that mimics the parties involved in the transfer of money; usually the conveyancing solicitor. Using this method, criminals aim to persuade the buyer to use alternative bank details, to those they already have, and pay monies for the purchase of the property into this ‘new’ bank account. The bank account will be owned by the fraudster and, if the payment goes ahead, the money will be stolen.
To prevent Conveyancing Fraud, it’s worth reading information provided by the Law Society here which includes valuable advice including, for example, calling your solicitor – or known contact – by phone before transferring any payment. This ensures the solicitor has requested it and allows for payment details to be checked. There’s also handy information available on our blog.
Property Title Fraud
Property Title Fraud is when criminals steal a property owner’s identity or use false documents, to illegally transfer a property into their name, fraudulently updating HM Land Registry details. Once ownership is transferred the fraudster can sell the property or raise a mortgage against it – often deceiving solicitors and other parties involved in the process. Properties that are empty for long periods of time, including holiday lets, can be more susceptible to this crime.
There are ways to prevent Property Title Fraud – including setting up property alerts via HM Land Registry or placing a restriction on the property to avoid it being registered for sale.