Buying FAQs

There can be a lot involved in buying a house. We’ve compiled a list of FAQs to help you make informed decisions. If there’s anything else you’d like to ask us, please contact us.

Buying a home
1.    Should I buy a new home?
2.    How much can I afford?
3.    How much does it cost to buy a new house?
4.    Where is the best place to search?

The property search
1.    I need to know more about the area
2.    What should I look for in a new house?
3.    How do I know what is a good price?
4.    What is the best property portal to use?

I can’t find a property
1.    I can’t afford any houses that I like
2.    There are no properties for sale in the area I like

Viewing a property
1.    Should I get a valuation on my house before viewing?
2.    Do I need to have a mortgage in place?
3.    Do I need to take anything to the viewing?
4.    Who will do the viewing?
5.    Can I make an offer at the viewing?

Making an offer
1.    Who do I speak to about my offer?
2.    How do I know if my offer is fair?
3.    Do I need a mortgage in place to make an offer?
4.    I want to make an offer but my house hasn’t sold
5.    Can I put a timescale on my offer?
6.    Will the seller negotiate on offer?
7.    Do I need to show proof of funds to make an offer?
8.    If I don’t have a house to sell, should I make a lower offer?
9.    The house I want to buy is more than I can afford

Offer accepted
1.    Who do I pay my deposit to?
2.    What happens if my house sale price is lower than the valuation?
3.    What happens if the survey indicates any problems?

If an offer is rejected
1.    Why has my offer been rejected?
2.    How much should I increase my offer by?
3.    Can I use timescales to negotiate?

Sold subject to contract (STC)

1.    What happens if someone puts in a higher offer?
2.    How long will it take to exchange contracts?
3.    Should I try and put in a lower price?
4.    What happens if my house sale falls through?
5.    Do I need to speak to a mortgage advisor/solicitor?
6.    Can I view the house again?
7.    When shall I book the removal van?
8.    Can I get the survey and searches completed now?
9.    Who do I pay the deposit to?
10.   When do I pay stamp duty and legal fees?

Seller pulls out
1.    What are my options if the seller pulls out?
2.    Can I contact the seller directly?

I want to buy but can’t sell my house
1.    How long will the seller wait for me to sell my house?
2.    Is there anything I can do to speed my house sale up?
3.    Are there any companies that will buy my house?

Exchange of contracts

1.    What does exchange of contracts mean?
2.    What do I need to do to exchange contracts?
3.    Do I need to insure the house before I move in?
4.    Will the seller clean the house?
5.    Do I need to speak to my solicitor or mortgage advisor?
6.    When will they change the board to sold to STC?
7.    How long until I can move in?
8.    What is going on with the chain?
9.    What do I need to do to exchange on time?
10.   When do I pay the agency fee?

Buying the house
1.    Who do I transfer the money to?
2.    How long does it take to exchange contracts?
3.    When do I pay my first payment?

Ready to go
1.    What does ready to go mean?
2.    Can I book the removal van now?
3.    Do I need to pay my deposit to the solicitor?

Completion
1.    What do I need to do to complete on the property?
2.    When will the keys be available?
3.    Is it okay to get new furniture delivered to the property?
4.    What documents do I need to complete?
5.    Do I need to speak to a solicitor or mortgage advisor?
6.    When do I book the removal van?

Moving day

1.    When do I contact Royal Mail to change my address?
2.    What time can I move in?
3.    What happens if the vendor is still in the house?
4.    Where do I get the keys to my new home from?

Buying a home
1.    Should I buy a new home?
Consider the motivation behind your move. Are you looking to upsize due to a growing family, downsize as the kids have left home or to relocate because of a new job? Your motivation will dictate whether or not you should buy a new home.


2.    How much can I afford?
This is dependent on your specific financial position. You may have equity in an existing property, or a significant cash deposit. We have an online calculator which you could use to get an estimated figure on how much you can afford. To use our online calculator, please click here. We would also recommend that you speak with an independent financial advisor (IFA), as they will be able to provide a definitive figure on how much you can afford. For details on how to speak to an IFA for free, please click here.


3.    How much does it cost to buy a new house?
When calculating figures the most prominent price is the cost of buying the actual house. On top of this you need to add the mortgage fee, the solicitor fee and stamp duty - plus a number of minor costs including a survey and removals. Added together, all of these individual costs can add thousands of pounds to your final bill, so ensure that you have taken each of these into account when calculating your affordability.


4.    Where is the best place to search?
As with most things in the modern world, the internet is the best place to start your search. From the comfort of your home you can browse a wide number of potential properties in your chosen area. This isn’t to say, however, that an estate agent can’t help as they will be able to take you through the available properties on your books and give a greater insight as to how suitable they are for you.


The property search
1.    I need to know more about the area
The internet will be able to provide resources on the local area, including the nearest schools and amenities. Any local estate agent can also help, as they will be experts in the local area and able to give you a more detailed summary of the region.


2.    What should I look for in a new house?
Consider what you definitely need in your new house. For instance, number of bedrooms or whether you need off-road parking. You can then begin to narrow down your search, according to your ‘must-haves’. Other things to consider include proximity to amenities, local schools, transport links and how well the area is served by broadband.


3.    How do I know what is a good price?
You can speak with your estate agent, as they will be the expert in local property prices. They will look at all the individual aspects of the property, as well as compare recently sold and on-market prices.


4.    What is the best property portal to use?
A property portal is a website that sells houses. Each portal brings with it its own positives and negatives. Rightmove has the widest choice of property, but does not help with the transaction. You can use the Move with Us property search to find your new home, as well as access a wide range of other move services to help you.


I can’t find a property
1.    I can’t afford any houses that I like
Speak with your financial advisor. If they are adamant that you are unable to afford any more then you will have to reconsider your position. Think about the area which you wish to move to, as there may be locations that are cheaper and houses that are smaller but within your price range. Unfortunately, sometimes you may not be able to afford a home move. It is worth keeping your eye out for any properties that do become available in the future, and you can sign up to property alerts for this.


2.    There are no properties for sale in the area I like
Have you considered which other areas may tick all the boxes? A local estate agent will be able to help with this, hopefully helping you to find a new home. If you have your heart set on one location then you can set up for online property alerts or have the estate agent record your details for any future opportunity.


Viewing a property

1.    Should I get a valuation on my house before viewing?
Although this isn’t a necessity, it would be useful to know the value of your existing property before you start viewing. This will give an indication of what you can afford and will signal your intent to the estate agent. Being in a strong buying position, with your homework done, will indicate to the agent that you are a ‘hot’ buyer.


2.    Do I need to have a mortgage in place?
This is not essential before the viewing, as you need to know the value of your next house before you can agree on the mortgage. It is advisable to speak with a financial advisor, who will be able to give an initial idea about what you can afford.
If you do want to get a mortgage agreement before viewing houses you can get an agreement in principle which will give you the highest and lowest amount you can borrow and will once again the seller you are a serious buyer.


3.    Do I need to take anything to the viewing?
The only thing you need to take is a bank of questions. Think before the viewing about all the things you need to know about the house, and find out the answers from the seller.


4.    Who will do the viewing?
In the majority of cases the estate agent will accompany you on the viewing. Feel free to ask them as many questions as possible, so you get a feel for the property.


5.    Can I make an offer at the viewing?
By all means you can make an offer. However, we would advise that you take the time to consider your options so you don’t make any hasty decisions. Take the time to speak with the estate agent who is selling the property, as they will give you an idea on asking price and the motivation behind the sale – as the motivation of the seller may help you to get a better price.


Making an offer

1.    Who do I speak to about my offer?
Speak to the agent who is selling the property. They will be in charge of negotiating on behalf of the seller, and through them you can submit a formal offer for the property.


2.    How do I know if my offer is fair?
You could look at recently sold, comparable property in the local area to get a feel of what property is generally selling for. Speak with the estate agent for their opinion on your offer, and whether they believe you will be successful. They will have an idea of what the seller of the property will accept.


3.    Do I need a mortgage in place to make an offer?
You do not need a mortgage in place to make an offer. However, it is advisable to have spoken with a financial advisor to ensure that the property is within your price limits. Once you have made an offer you should speak with a mortgage lender/broker, who will provide the mortgage if possible.


4.    I want to make an offer but my house hasn’t sold
If you are relying on the money from your house sale to make an offer then you are running the risk of the deal falling through. Talk to your selling agent about the interest in the property, and whether it will sell. If you are looking for a quick sale then you may have to reduce your asking price to generate more interest.


5.    Can I put a timescale on my offer?
Ultimately it is down to the seller the timescales they wish to work with. At this point any other interested party may make an offer and rival you.

6.    Will the seller negotiate on offer?

There is likely to be room for negotiation at this stage. The seller may negotiate your offer, or reject it flat out. Negotiations are usually done through the estate agent, who will liaise with each party.


7.    Do I need to show proof of funds to make an offer?
You will usually be required to show proof that you can afford the property in question. If you are a cash buyer, then you will need to provide bank statements to show you have the necessary finance. If you are purchasing with a mortgage, then you usually need to show your mortgage in principle agreement to show that you can afford the property.


8.    If I don’t have a house to sell, should I make a lower offer?
This doesn’t necessarily mean you should make an offer, however this may benefit your negotiating position. Not having a house to sell means that you are able to proceed with a purchase without relying on the sale of your existing home. The seller will recognise this and will take into account the speed at which you can complete the purchase. This may work in your favour.


9.    The house I want to buy is more than I can afford
This is a large sticking point and one you may not be able to overcome. If you are unable to afford the property then you will not be able to complete the purchase, simple as that. Speak with your estate agent about whether the seller would be able to negotiate on the price, as long as the lower value was in your price range. If you cannot do this, or secure further mortgage funds, then you will not be able to proceed with your house purchase.


Offer accepted
1.    Who do I pay my deposit to?
Your solicitor will be responsible for transferring your payment from the mortgage lender to the seller. Speak with your lender and solicitor to arrange the payment, which should reach the seller on the moving in day.


2.    What happens if my house sale price is lower than the valuation?
You will need to decide whether this lower sale price affects your purchase, and whether you can still afford to move. Speak with your estate agent about the cause of the lower value, as it may be down to increased competition in the local market or a general downturn in house prices. This will be your decision and you should consider all your options before you think about withdrawing from the transaction.


3.    What happens if the survey indicates any problems?
The severity of the problem found will dictate your next move. If it is a minor, and easily repaired problem, then you should go ahead with your purchase. If the problem is more major then you may wish to reconsider or renegotiate your agreement. The surveyor should be able to tell you how much the repair should cost and you should liaise with your estate agent once you have the proposed cost.


If an offer is rejected
1.    Why has my offer been rejected?
The seller will make a decision on whether your offer is suitable or not. They may feel that your offer is not high enough, or that they prefer an offer from a more suitable buyer (e.g. cash buyer). You should be able to negotiate the offer still, so speak with the estate agent about your options.


2.    How much should I increase my offer by?
This depends on how low you originally bid. The seller will be looking to achieve the highest price, or the one closest to their asking price. The estate agent will have a better idea on the price that the sellers will accept.


3.    Can I use timescales to negotiate?
You should have time to negotiate your offer, but it will depend on whether anyone else is bidding for the property. You should be able to find this out from the agent selling the property.


Sold subject to contract (STC)
1.    What happens if someone puts in a higher offer?
Unless you match the higher offer, then you are likely to miss out on the house. The only way you may still be in with a chance is if you are in a better buying position, for instance a cash buyer, than your rival bid.


2.    How long will it take to exchange contracts?
It is difficult to put a definite timeframe on this, as each individual transaction is different. However, the average time from the offer accept to exchange is around 6-8 weeks. During this time you will need to arrange your mortgage, instruct your solicitor and perform any surveys you require on the property in question.


3.    Should I try and put in a lower price?
This is not a recommended route to take. Lowering your price after it has been accepted is likely to infuriate the seller and jeopardise your chances of completing your purchase.


4.    What happens if my house sale falls through?
This is a common occurrence when it comes to property chains. If your sale falls through then it puts your purchase at risk if you are relying on it to fund your move. You would need to re-market your property and try and find a new buyer immediately. You may want to consider lowering your asking price at this point to generate more interest. The estate agent will be able to give expert advice at this stage, as they will have seen this happen numerous times.


5.    Do I need to speak to a mortgage advisor/solicitor?
Once you have had an offer accepted then you will need to speak to both your mortgage advisor and solicitor. The solicitor will need to be instructed to handle the conveyancing, and the mortgage advisor will need to secure your mortgage ahead of your move.


6.    Can I view the house again?
You will be able to view the house again. We would advise that you speak with the estate agent and the seller to agree on a suitable date and time.


7.    When shall I book the removal van?
Do not book the removal van until you have exchange contracts, as the transaction may still fall through before this point. You have plenty of time between the exchange to completion to arrange the removal side of things.


8.    Can I get the survey and searches completed now?
This is the right time to perform any survey and searches, as you are not legally contracted to purchase the property yet. The survey and searches will highlight any potential problems the property faces, so it is best to have these carried out as soon as possible.


9.    Who do I pay the deposit to?
You will need to pay your deposit on the exchange of contracts. The seller will receive the money but this should be organised through your solicitor.


10.    When do I pay stamp duty and legal fees?
Stamp duty must be paid within 30 days of the exchange of contracts. Once everything is legally agreed you will need to begin paying things like stamp duty and legal fees.


Seller pulls out
1.    What are my options if the seller pulls out?
If the seller pulls out after the exchange of contracts, they are in breach of that contract. This means that you are able to sue them or force the deal through. You can either go down this route or claim your deposit back and walk away.


2.    Can I contact the seller directly?
As this will be an emotionally charged time we recommend that all negotiation and contact is made through either the estate agent or the solicitor. If they are in breach of contract then you will need to discuss your options with the solicitor.


I want to buy but can’t sell my house
1.    How long will the seller wait for me to sell my house?
If you have exchanged contracts then you are legally obliged to proceed with the purchase. If you are waiting on your existing sale and are unable to complete on the agreed date then the seller is likely to cancel the deal and retain your deposit. If this is before the exchange then the seller will wait depending on their other alternatives, e.g. if there is a rival buyer who has the required funds.


2.    Is there anything I can do to speed my house sale up?
You could consider lowering the price to generate more interest and offers. Alternatively, think about going with a cash buyer, as they will not be relying on any property sales to go through before they can afford your property.


3.    Are there any companies that will buy my house?
There a number of companies out there that offer to buy houses for cash. Unfortunately, not many of these businesses are reputable and we strongly advise that you speak with your solicitor and financial advisor before taking this route.


Exchange of contracts
1.    What does exchange of contracts mean?
Exchange of contracts is the point at which you are legally bound to buy the house and nobody can back out of the transaction.


2.    What do I need to do to exchange contracts?
At this point your solicitor will have finished all the paperwork and a contract will have been produced ready to sign. Before exchanging contracts you should have carried out all surveys and searches, have a mortgage offer in writing, the deposit ready and set a definite completion date for the sale. This is usually set for two-four weeks.


3.    Do I need to insure the house before I move in?
You should insure the house once you have exchanged contracts. This protects you against any unfortunate eventuality.


4.    Will the seller clean the house?
It entirely depends on the seller. They are under no obligation to do so, but many do decide to clean or at least leave the house in a tidy state.


5.    Do I need to speak to my solicitor or mortgage advisor?
You should remain in contact with your solicitor, so they are aware of the completion date. They will then be able to prepare the necessary documentation ahead of this. You, or your solicitor, will then speak to the mortgage company about transferring the funds. This usually goes through the solicitor, who will transfer it to the seller on your behalf.


6.    When will they change the board to sold STC?
The selling agent should put the sold subject to contract board up within a few days of the sale being agreed. You will be able to speak with your agent about this.


7.    How long until I can move in?
In normal house transactions you will not be able to move in until the completion date. However, you may be able to negotiate with the seller for an earlier moving date if it is absolutely essential to move quickly. The average time from exchange to completion is usually around four weeks.


8.    What is going on with the chain?
This is one of the most complex parts of any transaction, as all parts of the chain need to work in conjunction for a smooth move. As you have exchanged you should have already found a seller for your existing property, so speak with the agent marketing your home about a potential completion date. Once you have this you can go to the estate agent of the house you are buying and request a similar completion date. The estate agents involved in the transactions will help you make this happen as seamlessly as possible. It is also advisable to keep your solicitor informed throughout this stage, so they can have the necessary documents prepared.


9.    What do I need to do to exchange on time?
The main things that you need ahead of the exchange are:
-    The drafted contract from your solicitor
-    A deposit for the house, usually around 10%
-    A mortgage agreement in writing
-    All searches/surveys carried out
Once you have all these elements together you will be in the perfect position to exchange on time.


10.    When do I pay the agency fee?
The estate agency fee is normally paid upon completion. This will be paid through your solicitor. The estate agent will have raised an invoice around the time of the exchange of contracts, so you know the exact amount you need to pay.


Buying the house

1.    Who do I transfer the money to?
The solicitor will usually be the person responsible for transferring the funds. The two points that money will need to change hands is the exchange and completion. At exchange a deposit, usually around 10% will need to be paid to the seller and this normally happens through the solicitor. On completion, which could the same day or within four weeks, you will need to pay the balance of funds. Arrange to transfer these to your solicitor on the agreed date, which will involve the mortgage company paying off the remaining balance.


2.    How long does it take to exchange contracts?
It is hard to predict definite timescales throughout the whole house buying process, as there are many unique characteristics to each property and transaction. Talking in estimate figures, from the offer to the exchange should take around eight weeks, with a further two weeks usually needed before the completion date.


3.    When do I pay my first payment?
Your first payment will need to be made upon the exchange of contacts. This will usually be a deposit of around 10%. At this point the transaction is legally binding, and pulling out would result in the loss of your deposit.


Ready to go
1.    What does ready to go mean?
Ready to go means that you have an offer accepted on a property, your mortgage in principle in place and the solicitor has drawn up the contracts. All that is left to do now is to exchange the contracts with the other party and agree a completion date.


2.    Can I book the removal van now?
The best time to book the removal van is after the exchange of contracts. At the exchange you will agree a completion date with all the involved parties. Once you know this date, you can book the removal van.


3.    Do I need to pay my deposit to the solicitor?
The deposit, usually 10% of the purchase price, needs to be paid to the solicitor ahead of the exchange of contracts. The solicitor will then pay the deposit to the seller’s solicitor on your behalf.


Completion

1.    What do I need to do to complete on the property?
The main thing that needs to be arranged is the transfer of funds to the seller. This is done through your solicitor. Other things to consider include arranging insurance for your new home, booking the removal company, cancelling any bills in your existing property and redirecting your post.


2.    When will the keys be available?
These will be available through our estate agent on the agreed date of completion.


3.    Is it okay to get new furniture delivered to the property?
We would not recommend that you have any furniture delivered to the property on your moving in day. The day will be busy enough and this could cause problems, especially if you haven’t received the keys by the time the delivery arrives.


4.    What documents do I need to complete?
Your solicitor will have prepared the majority of the documents at the exchange of contracts. The only thing that needs to be done is to pick up the keys from the estate agent, who will pass them to you once the money has reached the seller.


5.    Do I need to speak to a solicitor or mortgage advisor?
You should be in contact with your solicitor at this point, as they will have transferred your money to the seller. There shouldn’t be any reason to speak to a mortgage advisor, as this part of the process should already be complete.


6.    When do I book the removal van?
Once you know the date of the completion you can book the removal van. Arrange this in advance to ensure that they are available on your required day.


Moving day
1.    When do I contact Royal Mail to change my address?
As soon as you are aware of your completion date then you can contact the Royal Mail and inform them of your impending change of address. The Royal Mail advise that it takes at least five working days to arrange this.


2.    What time can I move in?
Consult your estate agent, as they will arrange with the seller for a potential move time. The seller will want to receive the money in their bank before allowing you to move in, so there may be some delay while this is processed.


3.    What happens if the vendor is still in the house?
If you have agreed on a completion date then the vendor is legally obliged to move out of the property at this point. They will be in breach of contract if they refuse to exit the property.


4.    Where do I get the keys to my new home from?
You can collect the keys from the estate agent that sold the house. They will arrange and carry out the handover of the keys.

Buying a home

1.     Should I buy a new home?

Consider the motivation behind your move. Are you looking to upsize due to a growing family, downsize as the kids have left home or to relocate because of a new job? Your motivation will dictate whether or not you should buy a new home.

2.     How much can I afford?

This is dependent on your specific financial position. You may have equity in an existing property, or a significant cash deposit. We have an online calculator which you could use to get an estimated figure on how much you can afford. To use our online calculator, please click here. We would also recommend that you speak with an independent financial advisor (IFA), as they will be able to provide a definitive figure on how much you can afford. For details on how to speak to an IFA for free, please click here.

3.     How much does it cost to buy a new house?

When calculating figures the most prominent price is the cost of buying the actual house. On top of this you need to add the mortgage fee, the solicitor fee and stamp duty - plus a number of minor costs including a survey and removals. Added together, all of these individual costs can add thousands of pounds to your final bill, so ensure that you have taken each of these into account when calculating your affordability.

4.     Where is the best place to search?

As with most things in the modern world, the internet is the best place to start your search. From the comfort of your home you can browse a wide number of potential properties in your chosen area. This isn’t to say, however, that an estate agent can’t help as they will be able to take you through the available properties on your books and give a greater insight as to how suitable they are for you.

The property search

1.     I need to know more about the area

The internet will be able to provide resources on the local area, including the nearest schools and amenities. Any local estate agent can also help, as they will be experts in the local area and able to give you a more detailed summary of the region.

2.     What should I look for in a new house?

Consider what you definitely need in your new house. For instance, number of bedrooms or whether you need off-road parking. You can then begin to narrow down your search, according to your ‘must-haves’. Other things to consider include proximity to amenities, local schools, transport links and how well the area is served by broadband.

3.     How do I know what is a good price?

You can speak with your estate agent, as they will be the expert in local property prices. They will look at all the individual aspects of the property, as well as compare recently sold and on-market prices.

4.     What is the best property portal to use?

A property portal is a website that sells houses. Each portal brings with it its own positives and negatives. Rightmove has the widest choice of property, but does not help with the transaction. You can use the Move with Us property search to find your new home, as well as access a wide range of other move services to help you.

I can’t find a property

1.     I can’t afford any houses that I like

Speak with your financial advisor. If they are adamant that you are unable to afford any more then you will have to reconsider your position. Think about the area which you wish to move to, as there may be locations that are cheaper and houses that are smaller but within your price range. Unfortunately, sometimes you may not be able to afford a home move. It is worth keeping your eye out for any properties that do become available in the future, and you can sign up to property alerts for this.

2.     There are no properties for sale in the area I like

Have you considered which other areas may tick all the boxes? A local estate agent will be able to help with this, hopefully helping you to find a new home. If you have your heart set on one location then you can set up for online property alerts or have the estate agent record your details for any future opportunity.

Viewing a property

1.     Should I get a valuation on my house before viewing?

Although this isn’t a necessity, it would be useful to know the value of your existing property before you start viewing. This will give an indication of what you can afford and will signal your intent to the estate agent. Being in a strong buying position, with your homework done, will indicate to the agent that you are a ‘hot’ buyer.

2.     Do I need to have a mortgage in place?

This is not essential before the viewing, as you need to know the value of your next house before you can agree on the mortgage. It is advisable to speak with a financial advisor, who will be able to give an initial idea about what you can afford.

If you do want to get a mortgage agreement before viewing houses you can get an agreement in principle which will give you the highest and lowest amount you can borrow and will once again the seller you are a serious buyer.

3.     Do I need to take anything to the viewing?

The only thing you need to take is a bank of questions. Think before the viewing about all the things you need to know about the house, and find out the answers from the seller.

4.     Who will do the viewing?

In the majority of cases the estate agent will accompany you on the viewing. Feel free to ask them as many questions as possible, so you get a feel for the property.

5.     Can I make an offer at the viewing?

By all means you can make an offer. However, we would advise that you take the time to consider your options so you don’t make any hasty decisions. Take the time to speak with the estate agent who is selling the property, as they will give you an idea on asking price and the motivation behind the sale – as the motivation of the seller may help you to get a better price.

Making an offer

1.     Who do I speak to about my offer?

Speak to the agent who is selling the property. They will be in charge of negotiating on behalf of the seller, and through them you can submit a formal offer for the property.

2.     How do I know if my offer is fair?

You could look at recently sold, comparable property in the local area to get a feel of what property is generally selling for. Speak with the estate agent for their opinion on your offer, and whether they believe you will be successful. They will have an idea of what the seller of the property will accept.

3.     Do I need a mortgage in place to make an offer?

You do not need a mortgage in place to make an offer. However, it is advisable to have spoken with a financial advisor to ensure that the property is within your price limits. Once you have made an offer you should speak with a mortgage lender/broker, who will provide the mortgage if possible.

4.     I want to make an offer but my house hasn’t sold

If you are relying on the money from your house sale to make an offer then you are running the risk of the deal falling through. Talk to your selling agent about the interest in the property, and whether it will sell. If you are looking for a quick sale then you may have to reduce your asking price to generate more interest.

5.     Can I put a timescale on my offer?

Ultimately it is down to the seller the timescales they wish to work with. At this point any other interested party may make an offer and rival you.

6.     Will the seller negotiate on offer?

There is likely to be room for negotiation at this stage. The seller may negotiate your offer, or reject it flat out. Negotiations are usually done through the estate agent, who will liaise with each party.

7.     Do I need to show proof of funds to make an offer?

You will usually be required to show proof that you can afford the property in question. If you are a cash buyer, then you will need to provide bank statements to show you have the necessary finance. If you are purchasing with a mortgage, then you usually need to show your mortgage in principle agreement to show that you can afford the property.

8.     If I don’t have a house to sell, should I make a lower offer?

This doesn’t necessarily mean you should make an offer, however this may benefit your negotiating position. Not having a house to sell means that you are able to proceed with a purchase without relying on the sale of your existing home. The seller will recognise this and will take into account the speed at which you can complete the purchase. This may work in your favour.

9.     The house I want to buy is more than I can afford

This is a large sticking point and one you may not be able to overcome. If you are unable to afford the property then you will not be able to complete the purchase, simple as that. Speak with your estate agent about whether the seller would be able to negotiate on the price, as long as the lower value was in your price range. If you cannot do this, or secure further mortgage funds, then you will not be able to proceed with your house purchase.

Offer accepted

1.     Who do I pay my deposit to?

Your solicitor will be responsible for transferring your payment from the mortgage lender to the seller. Speak with your lender and solicitor to arrange the payment, which should reach the seller on the moving in day.

2.     What happens if my house sale price is lower than valuation?

You will need to decide whether this lower sale price affects your purchase, and whether you can still afford to move. Speak with your estate agent about the cause of the lower value, as it may be down to increased competition in the local market or a general downturn in house prices. This will be your decision and you should consider all your options before you think about withdrawing from the transaction.

3.     What happens if the survey indicates any problems?

The severity of the problem found will dictate your next move. If it is a minor, and easily repaired problem, then you should go ahead with your purchase. If the problem is more major then you may wish to reconsider or renegotiate your agreement. The surveyor should be able to tell you how much the repair should cost and you should liaise with your estate agent once you have the proposed cost.

If an offer is rejected

1.     Why has my offer been rejected?

The seller will make a decision on whether your offer is suitable or not. They may feel that your offer is not high enough, or that they prefer an offer from a more suitable buyer (e.g. cash buyer). You should be able to negotiate the offer still, so speak with the estate agent about your options.

2.     How much should I increase my offer by?

This depends on how low you originally bid. The seller will be looking to achieve the highest price, or the one closest to their asking price. The estate agent will have a better idea on the price that the sellers will accept.

3.     Can I use timescales to negotiate?

You should have time to negotiate your offer, but it will depend on whether anyone else is bidding for the property. You should be able to find this out from the agent selling the property.

Sold subject to contract (STC)

1.     What happens if someone puts in a higher offer?

Unless you match the higher offer, then you are likely to miss out on the house. The only way you may still be in with a chance is if you are in a better buying position, for instance a cash buyer, than your rival bid.

2.     How long will it take to exchange contracts?

It is difficult to put a definite timeframe on this, as each individual transaction is different. However, the average time from the offer accept to exchange is around 6-8 weeks. During this time you will need to arrange your mortgage, instruct your solicitor and perform any surveys you require on the property in question.

3.     Should I try and put in a lower price?

This is not a recommended route to take. Lowering your price after it has been accepted is likely to infuriate the seller and jeopardise your chances of completing your purchase.

4.     What happens if my house sale falls through?

This is a common occurrence when it comes to property chains. If your sale falls through then it puts your purchase at risk if you are relying on it to fund your move. You would need to re-market your property and try and find a new buyer immediately. You may want to consider lowering your asking price at this point to generate more interest. The estate agent will be able to give expert advice at this stage, as they will have seen this happen numerous times.

5.     Do I need to speak to a mortgage advisor/solicitor?

Once you have had an offer accepted then you will need to speak to both your mortgage advisor and solicitor. The solicitor will need to be instructed to handle the conveyancing, and the mortgage advisor will need to secure your mortgage ahead of your move.

6.     Can I view the house again?

You will be able to view the house again. We would advise that you speak with the estate agent and the seller to agree on a suitable date and time.

7.     When shall I book the removal van?

Do not book the removal van until you have exchange contracts, as the transaction may still fall through before this point. You have plenty of time between the exchange to completion to arrange the removal side of things.

8.     Can I get the survey and searches complete now?

This is the right time to perform any survey and searches, as you are not legally contracted to purchase the property yet. The survey and searches will highlight any potential problems the property faces, so it is best to have these carried out as soon as possible.

9.     Who do I pay the deposit to?

You will need to pay your deposit on the exchange of contracts. The seller will receive the money but this should be organised through your solicitor.

10.  When do I pay stamp duty and legal fees?

Stamp duty must be paid within 30 days of the exchange of contracts. Once everything is legally agreed you will need to begin paying things like stamp duty and legal fees.

Seller pulls out

1.     What are my options if the seller pulls out?

If the seller pulls out after the exchange of contracts, they are in breach of that contract. This means that you are able to sue them or force the deal through. You can either go down this route or claim your deposit back and walk away.

2.     Can I contact the seller directly?

As this will be an emotionally charged time we recommend that all negotiation and contact is made through either the estate agent or the solicitor. If they are in breach of contract then you will need to discuss your options with the solicitor.

I want to buy but can’t sell my house

1.     How long will the seller wait for me to sell my house?

If you have exchanged contracts then you are legally obliged to proceed with the purchase. If you are waiting on your existing sale and are unable to complete on the agreed date then the seller is likely to cancel the deal and retain your deposit. If this is before the exchange then the seller will wait depending on their other alternatives, e.g. if there is a rival buyer who has the required funds.

2.     Is there anything I can do to speed my house sale up?

You could consider lowering the price to generate more interest and offers. Alternatively, think about going with a cash buyer, as they will not be relying on any property sales to go through before they can afford your property.

3.     Are there any companies that will buy my house?

There a number of companies out there that offer to buy houses for cash. Unfortunately, not many of these businesses are reputable and we strongly advise that you speak with your solicitor and financial advisor before taking this route.

Exchange of contracts

1.     What does the exchange of contracts mean?

Exchange of contracts is the point at which you are legally bound to buy the house and nobody can back out of the transaction.

2.     What do I need to do to exchange contracts?

At this point your solicitor will have finished all the paperwork and a contract will have been produced ready to sign. Before exchanging contracts you should have carried out all surveys and searches, have a mortgage offer in writing, the deposit ready and set a definite completion date for the sale. This is usually set for two-four weeks.

3.     Do I need to insure the house before I move in?

You should insure the house once you have exchanged contracts. This protects you against any unfortunate eventuality.

4.     Will the seller clean the house?

It entirely depends on the seller. They are under no obligation to do so, but many do decide to clean or at least leave the house in a tidy state.

5.     Do I need to speak to my solicitor or mortgage advisor?

You should remain in contact with your solicitor, so they are aware of the completion date. They will then be able to prepare the necessary documentation ahead of this. You, or your solicitor, will then speak to the mortgage company about transferring the funds. This usually goes through the solicitor, who will transfer it to the seller on your behalf.

6.     When will they change the board to sold STC?

The selling agent should put the sold subject to contract board up within a few days of the sale being agreed. You will be able to speak with your agent about this.

7.     How long until I can move in?

In normal house transactions you will not be able to move in until the completion date. However, you may be able to negotiate with the seller for an earlier moving date if it is absolutely essential to move quickly. The average time from exchange to completion is usually around four weeks.

8.     What is going on with the chain?

This is one of the most complex parts of any transaction, as all parts of the chain need to work in conjunction for a smooth move. As you have exchanged you should have already found a seller for your existing property, so speak with the agent marketing your home about a potential completion date. Once you have this you can go to the estate agent of the house you are buying and request a similar completion date. The estate agents involved in the transactions will help you make this happen as seamlessly as possible. It is also advisable to keep your solicitor informed throughout this stage, so they can have the necessary documents prepared.

9.     What do I need to do to exchange on time?

The main things that you need ahead of the exchange are:

-       The drafted contract from your solicitor

-       A deposit for the house, usually around 10%

-       A mortgage agreement in writing

-       All searches/surveys carried out

Once you have all these elements together you will be in the perfect position to exchange on time.

10.  When do I pay the agency fee?

The estate agency fee is normally paid upon completion. This will be paid through your solicitor. The estate agent will have raised an invoice around the time of the exchange of contracts, so you know the exact amount you need to pay.

Buying the house

1.     Who do I transfer the money to?

The solicitor will usually be the person responsible for transferring the funds. The two points that money will need to change hands is the exchange and completion. At exchange a deposit, usually around 10% will need to be paid to the seller and this normally happens through the solicitor. On completion, which could the same day or within four weeks, you will need to pay the balance of funds. Arrange to transfer these to your solicitor on the agreed date, which will involve the mortgage company paying off the remaining balance.

2.     How long does it take to exchange contracts?

It is hard to predict definite timescales throughout the whole house buying process, as there are many unique characteristics to each property and transaction. Talking in estimate figures, from the offer to the exchange should take around eight weeks, with a further two weeks usually needed before the completion date.

3.     When do I pay my first payment?

Your first payment will need to be made upon the exchange of contacts. This will usually be a deposit of around 10%. At this point the transaction is legally binding, and pulling out would result in the loss of your deposit.

Ready to go

1.     What does ready to go mean?

Ready to go means that you have an offer accepted on a property, your mortgage in principle in place and the solicitor has drawn up the contracts. All that is left to do now is to exchange the contracts with the other party and agree a completion date.

2.     Can I book the removal van now?

The best time to book the removal van is after the exchange of contracts. At the exchange you will agree a completion date with all the involved parties. Once you know this date, you can book the removal van.

3.     Do I need to pay my deposit to the solicitor?

The deposit, usually 10% of the purchase price, needs to be paid to the solicitor ahead of the exchange of contracts. The solicitor will then pay the deposit to the seller’s solicitor on your behalf.

Completion

1.     What do I need to do to complete on the property?

The main thing that needs to be arranged is the transfer of funds to the seller. This is done through your solicitor. Other things to consider include arranging insurance for your new home, booking the removal company, cancelling any bills in your existing property and redirecting your post.

2.     When will the keys be available?

These will be available through our estate agent on the agreed date of completion.

3.     Is it okay to get new furniture delivered to the property?

We would not recommend that you have any furniture delivered to the property on your moving in day. The day will be busy enough and this could cause problems, especially if you haven’t received the keys by the time the delivery arrives.

4.     What documents do I need to complete?

Your solicitor will have prepared the majority of the documents at the exchange of contracts. The only thing that needs to be done is to pick up the keys from the estate agent, who will pass them to you once the money has reached the seller.

5.     Do I need to speak to a solicitor or mortgage advisor?

You should be in contact with your solicitor at this point, as they will have transferred your money to the seller. There shouldn’t be any reason to speak to a mortgage advisor, as this part of the process should already be complete.

6.     When do I book the removal van?

Once you know the date of the completion you can book the removal van. Arrange this in advance to ensure that they are available on your required day.

Moving day

1.     When do I contact Royal Mail to change address?

As soon as you are aware of your completion date then you can contact the Royal Mail and inform them of your impending change of address. The Royal Mail advise that it takes at least five working days to arrange this.

2.     What time can I move in?

Consult your estate agent, as they will arrange with the seller for a potential move time. The seller will want to receive the money in their bank before allowing you to move in, so there may be some delay while this is processed.

3.     What happens if the vendor is still in the house?

If you have agreed on a completion date then the vendor is legally obliged to move out of the property at this point. They will be in breach of contract if they refuse to exit the property.

4.     Where do I get the keys to my new home from?

You can collect the keys from the estate agent that sold the house. They will arrange and carry out the handover of the keys.

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