Once you have decided to become a homeowner, saved up your deposit and evaluated your financial situation, you will find there are several key people and professionals who are involved in different elements of the home buying experience. Although you may not meet all of them in person, they all play an important role in the house buying process. So who are these key people when house buying?
The first team of key people when house buying or selling are the estate agents. The estate agent works for the seller, but they can only get paid if they achieve a successful sale. A good estate agent will have experience of what buyers in their area are looking for and can tell you whether it is worth making any changes to the property to improve its appeal and achieve a higher price.
The first thing an estate agent will do is get the home professionally photographed, get an accurate floor plan drawn up, and write a detailed and attractive description that can be used in the brochure, its shop window, and on property portals. All these basics should be included in the % fee charged for marketing and selling the property.
Before they market the property, it is a legal requirement to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which informs potential buyers about your property’s energy use and typical energy costs. The property will be given an energy rating between A (most efficient) and G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years. Getting an EPC will attract an additional fee.
An estate agent will also conduct viewings and guide potential buyers around the property answering questions they may have. They may also arrange an ‘open house’ where numerous buyers visit during a specific date and time.
Using an online estate agent tends to work out cheaper than high street agents, however, the fee is usually payable upfront, and applies whether or not the property is sold. The default option is that the seller shows potential buyers around the property themselves. Hybrid agents like Purple Bricks are increasing in popularity because they offer a local property expert to carry out the viewings. Other online agents may include this service, but they are usually an ‘add on’ and attract a separate fee.
A key part of an estate agent’s role is to manage negotiations and act as a go-between for any potential buyers and the seller. Offers should always be made direct to the estate agent, who will then pass them on to the seller, and then relay the seller’s response to the offer submitted.
Unless you are a cash buyer, then arranging your finances is an important step in the housing buying process making mortgage brokers and financial advisors key people when house buying. A mortgage broker is a qualified professional who specialises in finding the most suitable mortgages for your personal situation. They can save you time by telling you which mortgage providers are likely to accept you and how to improve your application. They can also speed up the process by dealing with some of the paperwork.
There are two types of mortgage broker: ‘tied’ and independent mortgage brokers. A tied broker will be restricted to particular providers and, as a result, may not be able to find such good deals. An independent broker can source mortgages from the whole of the UK market.
Advantages of using a mortgage broker are:
If you do not want to use a mortgage broker, then you can research mortgage lenders and approach them yourself. There are plenty of mortgage affordability calculators online, which will give you a broad overview of what you can afford. To find good deals it involves a lot of shopping around and talking through your circumstances many times with different lenders. Of course, you may have a bank account with a lending institution and decide to go with them.
The vendor or seller’s solicitor ensures the seller completes several detailed questionnaires about the property and what is included in the sale.
The TA6 is a general questionnaire and includes information on boundaries, disputes and complaints, known proposed developments, building works, utilities, council tax, and sewerage. The TA10 provides details of what fixtures and fittings the seller is including with the property. A TA13 is more technical and includes finalisation details such as arrangements to hand over the keys, how and when completion will take place, and ensures the property is free of all liability claims and mortgages.
The seller’s solicitor will use the questionnaire information to draft a contract, which is then sent to the purchaser’s solicitor for approval. Before exchanging contracts, the solicitor will speak with any mortgage provider and get a redemption figure. This is how much is left to pay upon completion of the sale.
The contracts will then be exchanged on an agreed date and time. This is usually done by both solicitors ensuring the contracts are identical, and then posting them to one another. On completion day they will receive the outstanding balance of the sale price, hand over legal documentation proving ownership, and pay off the mortgage with the proceeds of sale.
One of the first jobs the purchaser’s solicitor will do is to examine the draft contract and any supporting documents. They will then raise questions with the seller’s solicitor. As part of the conveyancing process, they will order property searches to ensure there are no other factors the buyer should know about that affect the property. Some searches may be recommended by the conveyancing solicitor, others will be required by the mortgage lender to protect them from any liabilities the property may have.
They will agree a date with the seller’s solicitor for exchange of contracts, following which they will lodge an interest in the property. This means that the deeds to the property are frozen for 30 days to allow the buyer to pay the seller and file the buyer’s application with the Land Registry to transfer the deeds into the buyer’s name.
After completion, they will calculate and pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on the buyer’s behalf and send you their bill.
On a more practical note, key people when house buying are often surveyors or other similar professionals especially if you are purchasing an older property or one in a state of disrepair. A surveyor inspects the property and tells the buyer if there are any structural issues, such as unstable walls or subsidence. They will highlight any major alternations or repairs needed, such as fixing the roof and report about the property’s construction, from the type of glazing to the type of wall.
Buyers typically arrange to have a survey done after their offer has been accepted by the seller. It is the buyer who arranges and pays for the survey. There are different types of survey, and these depend on which best suits the needs of the buyer. They are:
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