The property market is currently very busy. This is partly due to clearing transactions that were stalled by the lockdown in 2020 and it’s probably something to do with the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday that finishes in March 2021.
The result is that many people involved in buying and selling houses – from agents to conveyancing solicitors – have plenty of transactions to deal with. For anyone looking to buy a property in 2021 – perhaps to move on from rented accommodation – it’s important to be well prepared. Make sure you have everything ready that you will need to help your purchase proceed quickly and efficiently.
The House Buying Process
If you’re considering buying a property for the first time, it can be helpful to talk to a conveyancing solicitor before you start. That way, you will understand the process and have an accurate picture of the costs involved. Look for a solicitor who has the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Mark.
Your solicitor plays an important part in the process. They will communicate with the seller’s solicitor to resolve any questions about the property or what is included in the purchase price. They will also deal with all of the legal and planning issues to make sure your interests are protected.
Having an offer accepted doesn’t mean that the property is yours! The purchase process involves an exchange of contracts between the buyer and seller to formalise the arrangements – at this point you will pay a deposit. These documents should be drawn up and studied carefully. Your solicitor will advise you if there are any parts of the seller’s contract that you should be concerned about.
Unlike most debts such as bank loans, your mortgage will be tied to a specific property. When you have an idea of your budget a lender may be prepared to give you an approval in principle for the amount you want to borrow. This can speed up the process.
The loan can only be finally agreed when you have a specific property you want to buy. The lender will probably insist on a valuation survey to confirm the property value and ensure that there is an acceptable ‘loan to value’ percentage (they will not lend you 100% of the value).
It’s essential to be clear about the fees you will have to pay. As well as the solicitor’s costs you will have to pay for surveys and searches to confirm the value and condition of the property and to identify any planning issues that may affect you. There will also be Land Registry fees.
After March 2021, or if the price is over £500,000 there will also be SDLT to pay, which can be several thousand pounds.
Buying With Another Person?
If you are buying a home with someone else other than your spouse, it’s worth considering getting a declaration of trust drawn up to document your share of the property. You should also consider a cohabitation agreement.
If you’re looking to buy a property and aren’t sure where to start, click the button below to find out more.