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Frequently asked questions about buying

I've found a property I love. What do I do now?
It is advisable to apply for a Decision in Principle from a mortgage lender and find a solicitor before you make an offer. We can help you with both of these services. Just contact us for more information. Or, take a look at our guides on the full buying process in England and Wales, or Scotland.
What Help to Buy schemes are there?
There were recently two Help to Buy Equity Loan schemes available in England but the one launched in 2013 has since closed (on 28 February 2021). There remains, however, the newer Help to Buy Equity Loan (2021-2023) scheme for first time buyers only, which launched in December 2020, for purchases from April 2021, and will run until March 2023. It is a government backed mortgage scheme which offers the chance to purchase a new home with as little as a 5% deposit.
How long will it take to complete my purchase?
Every purchase is different, and your position and the seller’s position 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, exchange of contracts and completion can happen relatively quickly. However, if you need a mortgage and the seller is still in the property, the exchange of contracts normally takes between 4 and 6 weeks, the completion takes between 2 and 4 weeks. So in total you should expect up to 10 weeks to complete the purchase. Please note that in Scotland conclusion of missives normally takes between 6 and 8 weeks.
How much will conveyancing cost?
‘Conveyancing’ sounds like boring legal stuff, but it’s everything that needs to happen to make the property officially yours. It can be a confusing process and you need a solicitor to make it happen.
How much will stamp duty cost?
When you buy a property in the UK over a certain price you have to pay taxes. Until 7th July 2020, in England and Northern Ireland, buyers didn’t pay stamp duty on the first £125,000 and first time buyers up to £300,000. On 8th July 2020 the Government announced a stamp duty holiday to support the economy through the COVID-19 crisis which raised the threshold to £500,000. This change lasts until 30th June 2021. See our stamp duty guide for more details and for the costs use our calculator.
Do I need a survey?
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 with the lender that the property is worth what you are being loaned and will not give details on the condition of the property. We recommend that you arrange your own survey 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.
When do I need to pay the deposit?
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When do I need to arrange insurance?
We recommend organising home and contents insurance shortly before you sign the contract. 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 illness or death. This should be arranged when you complete you mortgage application.
What are searches?
Your solicitor will perform searches of the 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 confirm the details of the property and perform searches. At the same time, 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.
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 without cost or penalty until the contracts are exchanged.
How is a completion date chosen?
Once both parties have signed the contracts then your solicitor and the seller’s solicitor will consult both parties and agree a completion date.If you require a mortgage then after the contracts are signed, the mortgage 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.
How and when do I get the keys?
Once the seller’s solicitor has confirmed receipt of funds to confirm the transaction has completed, the estate agent will be able to confirm where and when you may collect the keys.
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.
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.

Let our resources guide you

As a leading Estate Agent in the Durham market for over 12 years we have a wealth of knowledge. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, rent or anything in between, we offer a range of services and understand that all of our clients are unique and therefore tailor our services to suit you.

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