Thinking about buying a West Country property?
Searching for and buying a new home is a very exciting time but it can also be jargon-filled and more than a little daunting if you are a first time buyer, or have not bought a property in a while. Read on for a summary of what to expect and of course get in touch if you’d like to learn more!
Be ‘Proceedable’ (there’s the first piece of jargon!)
The term ‘proceedable’ is frequently bandied about by estate agents, often confusing their poor sellers and buyers, but what does it mean? In summary, it means that a buyer is able to ‘proceed’ with a purchase because they can either buy without selling a home, or if they do have a home to sell, that property is already sale agreed.
Although we often hear ‘I don’t want to sell my home until I find somewhere to go’, this strategy can backfire if you fall in love with a property but then someone else beats you to the punch because they are ‘proceedable’ and you aren’t even on the market yet. It really is the best approach to SELL FIRST and put yourself in the strongest position possible to secure a property once you start looking.
Of course if you are either renting or living with family then you have the head start of being ‘proceedable’ from the outset!
Determine your budget & get your finances in order
This step is one not to skip over!
Take time to think through how much you want to spend and the way that you will pay for your new home BEFORE you start looking at properties. Consider the amount of deposit you will need, the monthly payments which would be required if purchasing with a mortgage and what expenses will be associated with your move rather than just focusing on the headline ‘asking price’ figure.
The best approach is to speak with a trusted financial advisor at the start of the process, especially if you will be purchasing with a mortgage. Online mortgage calculators are often inaccurate as they can’t take into account the full details of your financial position, so you may end up setting too high or too low of a budget, whereas an independent mortgage broker can review the marketplace for the most suitable products for your situation and provide you with an accurate budget.
If using a mortgage, you can then obtain an ‘AIP’ or ‘Agreement in Principle’ from your advisor/broker stating what you can borrow which will be accepted by most estate agents as adequate ‘proof of funds’ should you want to put in an offer on a property.
Weigh your needs and wants
It’s easy to write a list of the things you want in a new home (x bedrooms, double garage, located in such and such a town etc.), but consider going beyond the search criteria you fill out on the online property portals and instead follow an approach focused on why you are moving home in the first place and what needs you are trying to meet.
Are you wanting to get into the catchment for a certain secondary school ready for a few years’ time? Perhaps you are preparing for your elderly parents to move in with you once their current home gets too much for them? Maybe your children have moved out of home and you’re ready to downsize?
The better you’re able to describe the needs that your new home has to meet, the easier it will be for estate agents you talk to to suggest potential properties, which might well be homes that would not necessarily have checked the boxes in your online search.
It’s time to hunt for properties!
The first step when searching for your new home should be setting up alerts on the online property portals so that you will receive notifications if a property matching your criteria is listed or reduced.
More important however is letting local estate agents know early in the process that you are looking in their area (‘registering’ as a buyer – more jargon) – they will take the time to get to know you and understand your needs and will be able to give you a sneak peek if something you might like is coming up, before it hits the online portals.
Once you have identified a potential property online, it’s time to book in a viewing, as nothing beats seeing a property in person to help you decide if it could be for you or not.
It is tempting to get caught up in the excitement when viewing, especially if you get ‘that feeling’, but try to stay objective and consider whether it actually meets the needs you established up front. Feel free to bombard the agent with questions such as what is the neighbourhood like? How efficient is the home to run? Is there scope to extend should you choose to in the future? Etc.
Finally, if you do fall in love with a home and are considering submitting an offer, never be afraid to ask for a second viewing. Sellers and agents welcome second viewings as it demonstrates that you are a serious buyer, and you will be looking through a different lens on this viewing and may spot things you have missed the first time around.
Submitting an offer
Once you’ve found ‘the one’, it’s time to call the agent and submit an offer.
The agent will note down the offer amount and any conditions you have and then ask lots of questions about your ‘buying position’ (jargon again!), where they are looking to determine how ‘proceedable’ you are.
Questions to be prepared for: Are you purchasing with a mortgage or cash? Is that cash from the sale of your current home, cash distributed across various accounts and investments or cash accessible in a single account? If you have a property to sell, is it already sold subject to contract, on the market or not on the market at all? If it is sold subject to contract, is there a ‘chain’ of buyers?
Although these questions can seem intrusive, being upfront and transparent with the agent is the best approach to build trust and ensure that the agent is recommending you to their seller as a ‘good’ buyer, even if perhaps you are not quite as ‘proceedable’ as you could be.
Once your offer is accepted, the agent will then ask for identification and proof of funds as part of their obligations under Anti-Money-Laundering regulations.
The agent will then present your offer to the homeowner, at which point they will consider your offer and if appropriate the agent will come back to negotiate certain points. To reach an agreement, compromise is often needed on both sides of the negotiation so be sure to keep an open mind and always remember the big picture.
The final step before conveyancing (the legal process) can begin is for both you and the seller to nominate solicitors, if you haven’t already. The agent will then issue the Sales Memorandum (which goes to each solicitor) to ‘instruct’ the sale and will confirm with you that this has taken place.
This part of the process is led by the two solicitors with an outline process as follows:
- Issue draft contracts
- Order ‘Searches’ from local authorities looking into any water, drainage, flooding, mining etc. issues that might be associated with the property
- Once search results are returned, your solicitor will ‘raise enquiries’ of the seller’s solicitor to obtain more information on anything of concern
- Once enquiries have been addressed, final contracts can be drawn up and signed.
At this point the sale becomes legally binding.
The name refers to the fact that the contracts are literally ‘exchanged’ between the two solicitors and then your deposit is paid.
Completion: Move day!!
Completion is typically around a week after exchange, but it can be concurrent with exchange, or sometimes happen a long period afterwards, if agreed by both parties ahead of time.
The balance of funds (whether cash or mortgage) are sent over to the seller’s solicitor and final paperwork is completed.
The keys are then released, and you take ownership of the property!
This is usually a hectic day, with the seller moving out of a property in the morning, and you moving in in the afternoon – the agent will arrange for the keys to be passed between the seller and yourself.