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Buyer FAQs

Below are the questions we are frequently asked by our buyers

I want to buy a property. What do I do first?

Before you start searching for a property, you need to work out how much the move is likely to cost and see what kind of mortgage deposit you can afford. Our professional financial consultants can help you calculate all the costs involved in the house buying process. 

We have provided a number of calculators on the website to help you understand your finances. 

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Getting financial advice

If you would like a more accurate view of what the process will cost and how much you could borrow as well as help finding the best mortgage deal for you you can speak to Embrace Financial Services.

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I've found a property I love. What do I do now?

Once you find a property you need to agree a purchase price with the vendor (usually via an estate agent). Once this is agreed you should apply for a mortgage (if a mortgage is required) and select a solicitor to act on your behalf during the legal purchase process. Thomas Morris can help you with both of these services. Just contact your local branch for more information.

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What if I want to buy a property with another person?

There are two main options.

Becoming joint tenants is ideal if you are a couple, particularly if you’re married. It means you will both jointly own the whole of the property. If the worst happens and one of you should die, the ownership will automatically pass to the other. The second option is to hold the property as tenants in common, which means each of you owns an agreed proportion of the property. You might decide that you own the property equally, or that one of you will own 70% and the other 30% (for example). Should one of you die their proportion will pass to whoever is specified in the deceased’s will.

A joint purchase should always be made with the expert advice of a solicitor.

How long will it take to complete my purchase?

Every purchase is different, and it is difficult to answer this question with any real accuracy. If the seller has already vacated the property and you do not need a mortgage, then exchange of contracts and completion can happen reasonably quickly. However, if you need a mortgage and the seller is still in the property, or if there is a chain involved, the process can take far longer. In total it can take an average of anything from 8 to 15 weeks to complete the purchase once your offer is accepted and solicitors instructed.

How much will conveyancing cost?

‘Conveyancing’ incorporates everything that needs to happen once you have an offer accepted, to make the property legally yours. It can be a confusing process and you need a solicitor or conveyancer to make it happen. Thomas Morris can introduce you to a conveyancer that will offer a no sale no fee service with a guaranteed fixed price to keep everything simple. Contact your local branch to receive an accurate quote for how much this will cost.

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How much will stamp duty cost?

In the large majority of situations, when you buy a property in the UK over a certain price you have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). In December 2014 the way stamp duty calculated changed and now you only pay the rate of tax on the part of the property price within each tax band – like income tax.

As of April 2016 the stamp duty levels increased for investors purchasing buy-to-let property and other second properties, such as holiday homes, in which owners do not intend to live full-time.

To find out what SDLT will cost for your purchase visit our Stamp Duty Calculator.

Do I need a survey?

A survey isn’t compulsory, but we recommend that you arrange one whenever you purchase a property. It allows you to see the current condition of the property, reducing the chance of nasty surprises further down the line. There are three main types of surveys with varying costs.

In addition, if you need a mortgage to buy the property, your mortgage lender will arrange a mortgage valuation that you will have to pay for in order to secure a mortgage. A basic mortgage valuation merely confirms that the property is worth what you are being lent and will not give any great detail on the condition of the property.

When do I need to pay the deposit?

The deposit is paid to the seller’s solicitor by your solicitor, usually before exchange of contracts. So your solicitor will require deposit funds from you in readiness for this.

When will my mortgage lender release the funds?

The mortgage funds will be requested from the lender by your solicitor. It usually takes around 4-5 working days for the lender to release the money. Your solicitor will take this time into account when advising you of the earliest possible completion date.

When do I need to arrange insurance?

We recommend organising home and contents insurance shortly before you sign the contract. Thomas Morris has an Insurance Services department who offer a range of competitive products from a panel of lenders. To keep things easy, we’ll be in contact with you to discuss your needs. Don’t forget, you need all insurance policies to begin from the exchange of contract date.

You should also consider organising mortgage protection so that your family isn’t pressured to meet your mortgage in the worst case scenario of illness or death. This should be arranged when you complete your mortgage application.

What are searches?

Your solicitor will perform a number of 'searches', including searches of Land Registry and Local Authority information. They will be checking for planning history, and any potential developments around roads, drainage and mining near the property.

When do I sign the contract?

After the sale is agreed, the seller’s solicitor will draft a contract. Your solicitor will check the contract, confirm the details of the property and perform searches. At the same time, if you are getting a mortgage, your mortgage lender will need to conduct a mortgage valuation and send you a mortgage offer. Once all of this is complete, you will be ready to sign the contract and plan for exchange and completion dates.

When is the buyer or seller bound to the sale or purchase?

Until signed contracts are exchanged between the buyers and sellers solicitors either party can pull out at any time and for any reason.

How is the completion date chosen?

Once you and your solicitor are happy with the contract and searches and your mortgage offer is in place (where a mortgage is required) your solicitor and the seller’s solicitor will consult both parties and agree a completion date. This will happen before signed contracts are exchanged. Where a mortgage is required, your solicitor will take into account the timescales involved in getting the mortgage funds from your lender.

How and when do I get the keys?

The keys can legally be released to you once the sellers solicitor is in receipt of full funds for the purchase and legal completion has occurred. Normally keys can be collected from the seller or estate agent after this time. You may have to be a little flexible if the seller is moving out on the day as completion may occur before they have been able to fully vacate the property.

What happens to my title deeds?

Even after you’ve received the keys to your property, there is still a significant amount of work to be carried out by your solicitor. The title deeds will be held electronically by Land Registry, if hard copies exist, these may remain with your solicitor for some months before finally being sent to you.

What will the seller leave in the property?

A list of fixtures and fittings will be agreed between the solicitors forming part of the contract prior to it being signed and exchanged. This sets out what the seller intends to remove and what they are prepared to include in the house price. In some instances, they may offer additional items for sale for a purchaser to consider. Some contents can be offered or requested for inclusion as part of the negotiation of the purchase price.