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The 7 steps to buying property in the UK, or what buying a home in the UK in 2024 looks like

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Buying a property in the UK is a dream for many immigrants living in the islands – this is completely normal, especially as not all nations are used to renting a flat. Due to the constant questions on this topic, we decided to refresh one of the oldest, and at the same time one of the most important articles on our blog. So, what is buying a house in the UK like and how can we help you with it?

In short

  1. The process of buying a property in the UK should start with a meeting with a mortgage adviser – this is a way of determining the budget you have available;
  2. You will need a number of documents to obtain a mortgage – your adviser will prepare a list of these for you;
  3. Once your creditworthiness has been assessed, you can enter into discussions with the owner of your chosen home and make them an offer to buy;
  4. Once we have received an initial mortgage decision, we will begin the process of buying your dream property in the UK;
  5. Buying a house in the UK can take up to eight weeks, although it is usually three to four months.

1. Preliminary information meeting

At an initial briefing, we will review your financial situation and present our offer.
At an initial briefing, we will review your financial situation and present our offer.

Even the longest journey has to start with the first step – it’s no different with buying property in the UK. At the outset, we’ll meet for an hour or so chat via Zoom or another platform that’s convenient for you. During this time, we’ll gather some basic information from you to get an idea of your financial situation. We will see if you have sufficient creditworthiness to buy a home.

The first meeting is completely free and does not commit you to anything, but the broker’s help is not free. We will present you with an up-to-date offer of our services and, if you decide to cooperate, we will proceed.

A key part of the first meeting is, of course, the verification of your creditworthiness – buying a property in the UK does not require above average earnings, but some people have to postpone their move due to high financial commitments, unstable income or simply the cost of living being too high. Assessing your ability requires knowledge of your exact income, but you don’t need to send us any documents at this stage, as that will come a little later.

In parallel with your capacity, we will also check your credit score. This is nothing more than a credit score issued by the major risk assessment agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Knowing your credit score, which can be determined via www.checkmyfile.com, we will be able to select the right offers for you. The better the score, the broader the offer we can make.

If there are no contraindications and you are interested in further cooperation, we will move smoothly to the next step 🙂

2. Collection of the required documents

Buying a house step by step 7 steps to buying property in uk

Unfortunately, part of our job is also to collect the documents required by the bank. Contrary to appearances, the list is not that extensive, but there are differences depending on your source of income. For example, the proof of income of employed persons will be the so-called payslips from the last three months, while self-employed persons will have to provide the last two years’ accounts (Self Assesment – SA302). In addition, there must be a Tax Overview, i.e. a confirmation that the tax due has been paid. Please note that the bank may request additional documents if it deems it appropriate. This does not always happen, but it is worth being prepared for such an eventuality.

For the application, it is useful to have prepared:

  • bank statements;
  • income information – employed persons (payslips / P60);
  • income information – self-employed (SA302 / Tax Overview);
  • proof of identity (e.g. passport / driving licence / identity card);
  • proof of address (Council Tax, water, gas, electricity bills);
  • proof of deposit (statement of savings account).

Gathering documents takes time and you need to be prepared for this. Our staff will provide you with a list of certificates and statements that will be necessary for your situation. We will also ensure that the documents are correct and meet all formal requirements. This, of course, increases your chances of obtaining a positive credit decision.

3. Agreement in Principle – preliminary mortgage decision

Your plans are becoming more and more real! Obtaining an Agreement in Principle, sometimes referred to as a Decision in Principle, is a very important step on the road to buying a property in the UK, as it signals the bank’s pre-approval to lend to you. Once the decision is positive, the chance of getting finance is quite high.

Once you have received the agreement in principle, it is time to search for your dream home and make an offer to buy. Once the seller accepts it, we will move on to the next step together. Otherwise, you will have to resume your search.

4. Finding a favourable mortgage

As a whole of the market broker, we have access to the entire mortgage market which enables us to choose the best option.
As a whole of the market broker, we have access to the entire mortgage market which enables us to choose the best option.

We already have a house selected, a preliminary mortgage decision and an equity contribution collected. There is nothing left for us to do but complete the whole jigsaw! Once the seller has accepted the offer, your mortgage advisor will offer you a mortgage offer that is best suited to your needs (and will be the cheapest in your case).

As a whole of the market broker, Extend Finance has access to offers from virtually all banks and financial institutions in the UK. Some mortgages are not even available directly to customers. Out of hundreds of options, we’ll offer you a few products with the most favourable terms and conditions, based on your financial capabilities, your preference for commission and other costs and your plans for the future. Before you make your final decision, we will discuss the pros and cons of each solution together.

Once the decision has been made, we send a formal mortgage application to the bank and you inform your solicitor that they can start the conveyancing process. You will need to deal with finding a solicitor yourself, but if you don’t know how to do this, we will give you some tips.

5. Obtaining a mortgage offer and legal procedures (conveyancing)

Part of buying a property in the UK is verifying its legal status. Conveyancing, as this process is called, involves looking at the planning, checking the land registry for any debts, the possibility of insuring the house and verifying the status of the property. All of these steps are necessary in order for the bank to be willing to secure your mortgage with a lien on the property you are buying.

Although properties in the UK are, as a general rule, sewered and connected to the electricity grid, a solicitor (solicitor) will still check that all installations are operating legally. This is a formality, as in most cases, the errors tend to relate to zoning or property ownership issues.

Your solicitor will also deal with communication with the seller’s solicitor – the whole process is quite complex and can take several months, although usually, it is between 2 and 4 weeks. At this stage, it is a good idea to keep in regular contact with your law firm, as this will allow you to monitor the development of the whole case on a regular basis.

At the same time, the mortgage lender will carry out an appraisal of the property you are buying. If the appraised amount turns out to be too low, it will be necessary to pay a higher deposit, but any differences will not be too great.

In addition, you can commission an independent assessment of the condition of the building, known as a homebuyer survey. As part of this service, a structural engineer will verify the condition of your home and ensure that there are no major structural defects and that the finishes have been installed correctly. It is worth considering using a specialist, as this could be an opportunity for a possible price negotiation. It is also better to abandon the purchase at this stage than to carry out very expensive renovations once the deal is finalised. Many properties in the UK are maintained to a relatively low standard of repair, and there are virtually always defects in old houses. While window leaks are easy to fix, eradicating mould outbreaks from ceilings is no longer so simple.

If everything is in order, i.e. the legal and technical condition of the property raises no major objections, and the valuation corresponds to the amount of the mortgage you are applying for, you will receive a mortgage offer from the bank. We are ready to exchange contracts with the seller.

6. Exchange of contracts

The exchange of contracts (exchange of contracts), is a very important moment in buying property in the UK. It is the last point at which you can back out and walk away from the whole transaction. However, if it happens, you are legally obliged to meet your financial obligations under penalty.

A little before the exchange, you must also have a policy in place to protect our new house or flat, known as house insurance. There are basically two types of house insurance: buildings (structure) and contents (content). We can help you with this too and it is part of our standard brokerage service.

The mortgage agreement generally obliges you to purchase buildings insurance – the bank does not require you to secure furnishings or furniture. However, this is worth considering, as UK property insurance policies are structured in such a way that the fuller option, covering both the walls and interior of the house, is only marginally more expensive than the basic product. As the differences are usually a few tens of pounds a year, in our opinion it is not worth saving.

7. Completion – receipt of keys to the property

On the day agreed by the lawyers, we receive the keys to the desired property.
On the day agreed by the lawyers, we receive the keys to the desired property.

The final, and by far the most enjoyable, moment on this long and difficult road is when you receive the keys to your purchased property.

On a day set by the lawyers, we go to the property at a certain time, where the seller or estate agent hands over the keys and the entire property. In English, this moment is called completion.

If you enter into a partnership with us, you can be sure that you will get to this stage as quickly as possible. We guarantee that the mortgage we select will meet your expectations and, if the agent works out, you will also enjoy the property itself. It’s a big step for your personal finances – buying a freehold property in the UK is an effort for many people, but it guarantees much greater stability in your personal life, and over many years, often pays off financially.

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Think carefully about securing other debts against your home. Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debts secured on it.

Your Home (or property) may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debts secured on it. Conveyancing services and some forms of Buy to Let mortgages are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Your Home (or property) may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debts
secured on it.

Your Home (or property) may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debts secured on it. Conveyancing services are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Extend Finance nor The Right Mortgage Limited can’t provide advice regarding Personal Pensions, Pension planning or investment planning advice. You must seek independent financial advice from a suitably qualified professional financial adviser who may charge you for advice.

Wills, Will writing, Trusts and Trust planning are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

* We will receive a small fee from CheckMyFile for any referrals.

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