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Your free 7 step property purchase process checklist

Last updated: 6th April 2021

You could be forgiven for thinking that having an offer accepted on a potential investment is the hardest part of the property purchase process.

In truth, the process can actually be quite lengthy from here.

That’s why we’ve pulled together this handy checklist of all the stages you can expect to go through during the property buying process.

There are seven simple steps to making your property buying journey a seamless one;

1. Make sure you’re in a position to buy

It sounds simple, but actually being in a position to purchase your property is one many overlook.

Finding with the cash, looking at which mortgage (if any) you need, and remembering the extras are all important.

As a starter, you should be looking at:

  • Getting a Decision In Principle (DIP) from a mortgage lender (if you’re using one)
  • Making sure you have enough cash to cover the deposit (or full purchase price) as well as stamp duty, legal and mortgage fees – if applicable.

Then you’ll be ready for the next step.

2. Make your offer

The most exciting (but nerve wracking) part of the property purchase process.

How much you offer is important, but so is the way you present the offer.

We’ve covered all the extra ways to make your offer stand out in episode 237 of the Property Podcast, so give that a listen before throwing offers around.

  • Make your offer
  • Follow up in writing, attaching your DIP (if you’re using a mortgage) and proof of cash funds
  • Receive confirmation when your offer is accepted, and celebrate!

But remember… many offers and deals fall through and this is all part of the experience. As this is an investment purchase, make sure you keep in mind that your offer is a business decision and be prepared to pull the plug if counter-offers start to get silly.

3. Find a solicitor

You’ll become quite acquainted with your solicitor throughout the buying process, so it’s important to choose one you get on with.

As with any service-led industry, reputation plays a big role. So rather than choosing the cheapest, ask any friends who’ve been through the process who they’d recommend – our online community regularly share recommendations on solicitors all over the UK – proof that good worth of mouth pays off in this industry.

Once you’ve found a solicitor that’s a good fit, these are the steps to tick off;

  • Get a fixed price quote, and avoid cut-price conveyancers
  • Sign their client engagement letter
  • Transfer the funds they request (usually enough to cover the cost of local searches)
  • Make sure they’re very clear about the timescale agreed.

4. Arrange your mortgage

If you’re buying without a mortgage, you can scoot through to step 5 but we’d expect the majority of readers to buy using mortgages – that’s the power of leverage.

And it’s important to know what kind of mortgage you’ll need. You’ll also need to look at interest rates and affordability. The earlier you refine these details, the better.

Once you’ve found your mortgage:

  • Proceed (or tell your broker to proceed) to full application with the lender (or get a new DIP from another lender if better deals are now available)
  • Fill in the personal and property information required by the broker and lender
  • Transfer any funds required (either upfront fees to the broker, or valuation fee to pay to lender)
  • Facilitate access to the property for the lender’s valuer
  • Arrange your own more detailed valuation if you want one

We’d also suggest you listen to us debunk six classic mortgage myths.

5. Keep pushing through the legal process

The property purchase process is a juggling act.

You’ll want to regularly check in with your solicitor for progress updates. Paperwork can fall to the bottom of a pile – it happens to the best of us – so make sure you’re keeping on top of everyone and everything.

We can never assume that work is being done, you have to steer the ship. Make a note to check in often so you can make it a habit.

Don’t overkill it though – daily is too much, once every two weeks is probably good enough to stay at the top of your solicitor’s to-do list.

  • Make a diary note to chase your solicitor once a week. If an estate agent is involved, get their help with chasing the other side too
  • Work with your broker to make sure the final mortgage offer is issued
  • If the property is tenanted, make sure your solicitor has requested a copy of the tenancy agreement, the deposit certificate, the inventory and a record of rent payments
  • Chase some more, and take lots of deep breaths

6. Prepare to exchange

At this stage, the vendor is legally bound to sell the property to you, so you’re close to the end. But don’t take your eye off the ball just yet!

This is often when people start relaxing, but it deserves just as much attention to detail as you gave to finding the property in the first place.

  • Review your solicitor’s report on title to make sure you understand everything and there are no major issues
  • Check with your broker that the mortgage lender’s formal offer has been issued
  • Transfer the funds to your solicitor that are needed to exchange
  • Celebrate when your solicitor tells you that they have exchanged contracts – finally, the purchase is legally binding!

7. Prepare to complete

Now you’re finally ready to complete and pick up your keys!

Here are the final four steps for you to complete before you’ve successfully bought your first property;

  • Request a completion statement from your solicitor showing what funds you need to transfer to them: usually the balance of the purchase price, stamp duty, and your solicitor’s fee. (If you’re using a mortgage, the mortgage funds will be sent directly to your solicitor.)
  • Transfer the funds ahead of the agreed completion date
  • Check your emails compulsively, waiting for notification that completion has taken place
  • Pick up the keys!

And there you have it!

If you keep this checklist handy, you’ll know what to expect so you can stay organised throughout the property purchase process. You can download the checklist for free here.

And if you’ve got questions on any of these stages, why not join our forum? There’s over 60,000 members there, ready to chat through any burning questions you’ve got about the process.

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