After all the searching, and house viewings this can be an exciting time – but most people are often left confused as to what the next steps are, and what is expected of them once they have had their offer accepted. Once you have reached this point, the seller will usually take their house off the market in order to secure it for yourself. The house will be treated as “Sold Subject To Contract” or “SSTC” for short.
Most buyers will be reliant upon using a mortgage to secure their purchase. If you have reached the stage of having an offer accepted on a house, then you will have already been through the process of applying for a mortgage and will have been offered an Agreement In Principle, or AIP. (Sometimes referred to as a Decision In Principle, or a Mortgage Certificate). This is a document which states that based on the information you have provided them, they would be happy to consider offering you a mortgage.
Your next step is to go back to your lender, or mortgage broker and explain you have now had your offer accepted – there will be some paperwork for you to complete and sign off, and you will need to send them various documents such as proof of earnings, photo ID and proof of address. Your lender will then arrange for a valuation to be carried out on the property you are buying. A qualified surveyor will visit the property and carry out a basic inspection, in order to satisfy your lender that the amount you are borrowing is reasonable, and that the property is free from any serious defects.
At this stage you have the option to have a more in-depth survey carried out. There are a few different levels of survey which vary on how in-depth they go, but the vast majority of people will choose what is called a Home Buyers Report. This is a relatively thorough report on the property, often about 30 pages long, and will advise you of any problems with the property or areas which could become a problem over the next few years. These cost around £400-£500, but can become more expensive the bigger the property is, and you’ll hear the results around a week after the inspection was carried out.
Once your lender has sent a surveyor to the property, they will hopefully give you a big thumbs up and tell you they are happy to approve your mortgage! But sometimes, it’s not so straight forward… They could tell you that the property has some issues that need fixing before offering you the mortgage, or they could “down value” the property which means they don’t feel it is worth what you are paying for it, and wont lend you as much as initially planned. In this scenario, the estate agent will negotiate between you and the seller to work out a way forward. Don’t panic if this happens! It is not unusual, and estate agents deal with this on a daily basis and will advise you of your options.
Of course, if you are a cash buyer then the above will not apply to you – but you can still opt to have a survey carried out for your own peace of mind, if you wish.
Regardless of whether you are a cash buyer or using a mortgage, you will need to instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf. Your solicitor will transfer a property from one person to another – this process is often referred to as the conveyancing process. There are a vast amount of checks your solicitor will make, but ultimately, it is their job to ensure the house you are buying is legally sound, and that you will not encounter any problems in living there, or selling the property in future. You will be expected to complete some paperwork for them, and provide proof of ID for them to act for you.
Your solicitor will liaise with the sellers solicitor whilst carrying out these enquiries, and eventually reach a point where they are satisfied for you to purchase the house. On average, it will take around 12 weeks to reach this point, but this is where it gets really exciting! The solicitors will “exchange contracts” where you are legally bound to purchase the property and a “completion date” is agreed. This is the date you move into your home!
At Mortimers we can help with any aspect of moving home, whether you are buying or selling. We can assist with mortgages, surveys, house removals and anything in between. We pride ourselves on offering the absolute best customer service, and are more than happy to help navigate you through the maze of buying or selling.