Buyer FAQs

Find our more about frequently asked questions when buying a house

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 Advisers can help you calculate all the costs involved in the house buying process. To make an appointment please click here.

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

Once you have had an offer accepted, you will need to apply for a mortgage and find a solicitor before you can proceed. Lauristons can help you with both of these services. Just contact your local branch for more information. Or, to see the full buying process, click here.

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 not 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 your position and the seller’s position and the chain needs to be taken into consideration before this question can be answered accurately. If the seller has already vacated the property and you have already secured a mortgage, an exchange of contracts and completion can happen reasonably quickly. However, if you need a mortgage and the seller is still in the property or has an onward purchase, the exchange of contracts normally takes between 6 and 8 weeks, with completion thereafter to suit all parties. So in total you should expect up to 10 -12 weeks to complete the purchase.

How much will conveyancing cost?

‘Conveyancing’ sounds like boring legal stuff, but it’s everything that needs to happen to make the property legally yours and protect you and your lender. It can be a confusing process and you need a solicitor to make it happen.  Lauristons can recommend you to a local solicitor who can offer a conveyancing service at a competitive price to keep everything easy. Contact your local branch to receive an accurate quote for how much this will cost or click here.

How much will stamp duty cost?

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 increase 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.

For further details visit our calculator here.

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, but most conventional properties will require a Condition Report as a minimum. Your local Lauristons branch can recommend you to a local surveyor from our sister company e.surv who is the largest provider of surveys in the country. To read more about surveys, click here.

In addition, your mortgage lender will arrange a mortgage valuation that you will have to pay for in order to secure a mortgage. A mortgage valuation merely confirms that the property is worth what you are being leant but will not give details on the condition of the property.

When do I need to pay the deposit?

At least 10% of the deposit will need to be transferred to you solicitor prior to exchange of contracts, the balance being paid to the seller’s solicitor.  The remainder is then transferred in the same way prior to completion.

When will my mortgage lender release the funds?

The funds from your mortgage will be requested from the lender by your solicitor. It usually takes around 4-5 working days for the lender to release the money being lent. 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. Lauristons 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 contracts.

You should also consider organising mortgage protection so that your family isn’t pressured to meet your mortgage payments in the worst case scenario of serious illness or death. This should be arranged when you complete you mortgage application.   If you would like to make an appointment to discuss with one of our advisors please click here.

What are searches?

Your solicitor will perform searches of Land Registry and Local Authority information, often referred to as Local Searches. 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 confirm the details of the property and perform searches, and raise any enquiries.  At the same time, your mortgage lender will need to conduct a mortgage valuation and send you a mortgage offer.  Only once all of this is complete, will you be ready to sign the contract, but your solicitor will prompt you when the time is right.

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

Until both solicitors receive signed contracts from the seller and the buyer, either party can pull out at any time and for any reason.  This is also known as exchange of contracts.

How is a completion date chosen?

Once both parties have signed the contracts and an exchange has taken place, the mortgage funds will be requested from the lender by your solicitor. The mortgage lender will let your solicitor know when the funds will be released, then your solicitor and the seller’s solicitor will consult both parties and agree a completion date, but dates are often discussed in the week or two running up to exchange so that things like removals can be ready in the wings.

How and when do I get the keys?

The contract will detail specifically where and when you collect the keys and what time the seller has to vacate the property. The norm is that the seller must vacate the property by 12pm, and the keys collected from the seller’s estate agent at 2pm.

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 of your property will remain with your solicitor for some months before finally being sent to your Lender for storage. They will hold the deeds until such time as you repay in full the mortgage you have with them, remortgage to another lender or sell the property.

What will the seller leave in the property?

A list of fixtures and fittings will be agreed between the solicitors prior to the contract being signed. This sets out what they intend to remove and what they are prepared to include in the house price. In some instances they may offer items for sale for the purchaser to consider, and some contents can be offered for inclusion as part of the negotiation of the purchase price.  Either way you will know in advance of moving what will be left in the property.