Buying Your Property
Whether you are taking a first step on to the housing ladder, or moving up (or down!) a rung or two on it, buying a house is usually the biggest financial transaction that any of us undertake, as well as often being a huge emotional commitment. The process can therefore often be full of both highs and lows.
The first stage obviously involves finding your new home. This may involve huge numbers of viewings, or it may be that you find the dream property at first look. Whatever stage you’re at, it is vital that before you spend too much time looking at the market, you should already have teed up an offer, at least in principle, with a mortgage lender (either direct or through a mortgage advisor) so that when you do want to move with an offer for a property, you are able to do so quickly.
Previously very frequently, but less often now, offers for a property will go to a Closing Date – this is where there are sufficient interests being noted in a property for the seller to take the view that the price is likely to be maximised by him or her inviting sealed bids at a specific time on a specific day. Your solicitor would draft a formal legal offer for the property at the price that you wish to bid and would submit it for you. Usually (but not necessarily), the highest bid gets the house. Other factors, such as whether or not you have already carried out your survey, or whether your offer is still conditional (subject to) a survey, may be critical in the mind of the seller. Until and unless a Closing Date is set, there is nothing to stop you submitting a legal offer for the property anyway and obviously, if it is sufficiently attractive to the seller, or the seller’s circumstances require that, for example, he or she gets a quick sale, it may well be accepted without going to a Closing Date.
Once an offer is accepted in principle, your solicitor will then, in conjunction with you, adjust the form of the contract (“the missives”) with the seller’s solicitor until everything has been agreed and a binding contract is concluded. At the same time, the solicitor will cary out a detailed examination of the seller’s title deeds to the property to make sure, for example, that the boundaries are all in order, and that the seller does in fact own the property – fairly fundamental! Your title deed will be drafted, along with any new mortgage deed, and the loan funds, along with any deposit that you are providing, will be teed up for the completion date (“the date of entry”). Once the last searches are obtained, completion (“settlement”) takes place on the due date – keys handed over to you – and your solicitor will register your title and mortgage at the Land Register.