So you’ve had an offer accepted on a house. Congratulations! At this stage you’re probably feeling excited, but you may also be thinking about the process that lies ahead, and wondering how you can ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.
We’re here to help, with five top tips to navigate the process.
1. Make sure the property is marked ‘under offer’ or ‘sold STC’
As soon as your offer has been accepted, request that the property is taken off the market. This happens when it is marked as ‘under offer’ or ‘sold STC’, which means ‘sold subject to contract’. These terms generally refer to the same thing, that is, an offer has been accepted on a property but contracts have not yet been exchanged. Some agents will also use the term ‘sale agreed’.
Occasionally ‘under offer’ will be used by agents when a buyer has made an offer, and a vendor has not yet accepted or rejected it.
Be aware that higher offers can be made by a third party on a property that is already under offer or marked sold STC. This process is known as gazumping, but you can reduce the chances of this happening to you by ensuring the purchase process moves swiftly.
2. Appoint a mortgage broker and solicitor
If you’re buying with a mortgage, you will want to get the ball rolling on the application process as soon as possible after the house is under offer. You do not have to use the mortgage broker your estate agent recommends, although doing so could save you time. The most important thing is that they have access to a wide range of lenders, so you can get the best deal possible.
Do your research when it comes to solicitors too – a good one will make the conveyancing process run more smoothly. Shop around and compare conveyancing quotes, and don’t forget to read reviews.
3. Wise up on the costs involved
Buying a house is an expensive undertaking, and there are plenty of costs to consider, such as stamp duty, solicitors’ fees, search fees, mortgage arrangement fees and removals. It’s a good idea to make a list of everything you will need to pay early in the process, so you can be sure you have the funds available.
Consider adding a 10-15% contingency to your budget too, to account for unexpected costs that might crop up, such as extra surveys.
4. Understand your place in the chain
Your house purchase may be part of a chain, which is a series of property transactions that all depend on each other. They’re very normal, but can cause a headache. Find out early on if there is a chain and when the chain is ‘complete’, meaning nobody involved is still searching for a buyer or a property.
It’s usually advisable to wait until the chain is complete before commissioning surveys and searches, as you won’t be able to reclaim these costs should the chain collapse.
5. Arrange buildings insurance
Mortgage lenders will require you to have buildings insurance in place before exchanging contracts, because you become responsible for the property after that point. So shop around well before this stage to find the best quotes.