Buying a House

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Buying a house is recognised as one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do in your life. That’s why our expert team of Conveyancers and Solicitors are on hand to make your home buying process as quick and pain-free as possible.

Whether you’ve bought a house or a flat before or are a first-time buyer, we offer an approachable and convenient service. Our Conveyancer Solicitors want you to move into your new home without delay, so we’ll offer the quality-assured Conveyancing service that you want and expect.

Contact us for a free, fixed fee Conveyancing quote.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

Solicitors Fees for Buying a House

Our Conveyancing Solicitors offer fixed fee conveyancing, meaning that the fee we quote you upfront is the fee you’ll pay (unless there are unforeseen circumstances, in which case we’ll inform you of any additional cost at the earliest opportunity).

Our Conveyancing quotes include a breakdown of the cost of your conveyancing, including our fees and all disbursements including Stamp Duty and HM Land Registry fees.

More Information on Home Buying

The conveyancing process has several legal terms you may not be familiar with, so we explain these in our A to Z of conveyancing terms.

Buying a house can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. And that’s not ideal when you’re making a huge financial investment.

However, with a reputable firm of Conveyancing Solicitors acting on your behalf, you can be sure no stone is left unturned and that the correct processes are followed.

Process of Buying a House or a Flat

Choose a Conveyancing Solicitor First

It may seem odd to find a Conveyancing Solicitor before you’ve found the house you want to buy, but it will help speed up the legal process if you’ve got experts carrying out preparatory work before you make an offer.

The Conveyancing Solicitor will handle the legal process of transferring the ownership of a property, which includes organising local searches with the relevant authorities to determine if anything might affect the costs or your enjoyment of your home.

They’ll also conduct further enquiries to determine property boundaries, rights of access and whether any disputes are presently ongoing, correspond with the seller's Solicitor, apply to the Land Registry to record transfer of ownership and handle any other legal issues that require addressing. 

The Conveyancer’s job is to protect your interests throughout the whole house buying process.

Find a House You can Afford

This speaks for itself. How much can you afford to spend on a property, including deposits and mortgage repayments? Once you’ve worked out your budget, you can then start checking the local papers, estate agents and property websites to find your ideal home.

But don’t rush any decision, and visit the property more than once at different times of the day and week. And if you’re not sure about a house, don’t be influenced into making a decision you’re not comfortable with.

Make an Offer 

Once you’ve found the house you want to buy, it’s time to make an offer. This means approaching the estate agent or the individual seller and letting them know how much you’re prepared to pay. 

We advise the following when you’re making an offer:

  • Monitor the local property market so you understand how much similar houses are selling for and the speed at which they’re selling. That’ll give you an idea of whether an offer lower than the asking price is feasible and give you a stronger hand in negotiations.

  • Find out from the estate agent what extras, such as fixtures and fittings, will be included in the sale and get written confirmation.

  • Make your offer to the estate agent. You’re not obliged to pay the amount being asked for by the seller and, regardless of how much you offer, the agent is legally required to pass it on to the vendor. If the seller is interested, they’ll instruct the estate agent to begin negotiations.

  • In open negotiations, start low with your offer and be mindful of your budget, so you don’t go over. Putting in an offer of 5% to 10% below the asking price is generally recognised as a reasonable starting point.

  • In the event the seller refuses your first offer, you’re entitled to make an increased offer and can continue doing so until it’s either accepted, the seller accepts somebody else's offer, or you decide to look elsewhere. As always, ensure you remain within your budget.

  • If it’s sale by tender, where you’ve viewed the property at an open day (popular in areas of increased demand such as London), you’ll be required to make a sealed bid. Although sellers tend to accept the highest offer, you should resist bidding more than you’ve budgeted for, as a mortgage lender may refuse to provide the excess, leaving you to cover the shortfall yourself.

  • If the seller insists on a holding deposit as a condition of accepting the offer - where you must pay a small deposit to demonstrate you’re serious about buying - ensure that the deposit isn’t “non-refundable”. Otherwise, the seller is free to sell to somebody else and you may have to sue them to get your deposit back. You should give the holding deposit to the seller's Solicitor for safekeeping and get a written receipt of funds. Never pay the deposit to the seller themselves.

  • Once the offer has been accepted, ask the seller to take the house off the market. This will help to prevent you getting gazumped - where the seller accepts a higher offer from somebody else. If they refuse to take the house off the market, find out why and remain wary until contracts have been exchanged and they can no longer back out without incurring a financial penalty.

Arrange a Mortgage

Whether you’ve had an offer accepted or not, the chances are you’ll need to acquire funding (or additional funding if you’re upgrading from an existing home) in order to buy your prospective home.

The vast majority of house buyers will approach a mortgage lender to secure these finances, who, after performing credit checks, its own valuation of the property and any other relevant enquiries, will decide whether or not to lend you the money.

Get the House Surveyed

Paying for a property survey by a qualified Surveyor isn’t essential, but it could save you a lot of money in the long run. A full survey will flag up any issues that might cause problems in future, such as structural damage that a simple mortgage lender's valuation would fail to pick up on.

It could also highlight other deep seated problems that, while invisible to the naked eye, could require major repairs somewhere along the line. The survey could therefore help you renegotiate the selling price of the house. 

For free initial advice call our Conveyancing Solicitors

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Monday to Friday 8:30am-7:00pm

08002 605 010

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3 types of property survey

Condition Report

Issued by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), a Condition Report provides basic information on a property's condition, highlighting any aspects that might require immediate attention.

Homebuyer Report

More detailed than the Condition Report, the HomeBuyer Report presents a non-intrusive survey of the property which points out major issues, such as subsidence, which might affect your decision to buy. The inclusion within the report of a property valuation and reinstatement cost (the amount it is insured for in the event of loss) is optional.

Building Survey

A thorough examination of a property, the Building Survey is both the most detailed and most expensive of the reports available. It will not only give you an in-depth analysis of any issues associated with the building, but also advice on getting them repaired, estimates of cost and the prognosis if repairs aren’t carried out.

Exchange contracts 

Once your Conveyancing Solicitor has reported back with all the relevant information, you’ve read the results of any survey you’ve had done and both you and the seller are happy to proceed, it’s time to exchange contracts.

Your Solicitor and the seller’s Solicitor will usually undertake this process by phone, to ensure the contracts are identical and the exchange takes place at a fixed date and time.

Once the exchange of contracts is completed, you’re legally bound to buy the house and the vendor is legally bound to sell it to you for the agreed price. Failure on either side to adhere to the terms of the contract will result in a financial penalty for the party responsible.

Completion day

This is the day that you can move into your new home. When the seller's Solicitors receive the completion funds, they authorise the agents to release the keys for collection by the new buyer.

Your Solicitor will then register the new ownership at the Land Registry and forward evidence to you once confirmation of the registration has been received.

They’ll also arrange the payment of Stamp Duty on your behalf, notify the owner of the freehold if it’s a leasehold property you’ve purchased, and send a copy of the Title document to your lender, who will retain it until the mortgage has been repaid.

Is buying a house different for a first-time buyer?

The key difference between buying a house as a first-time buyer and buying a house when you’re already on the housing ladder is that you don’t have a property to sell. This can be an advantage to you as you can move quickly and don’t have a chain of other buyers behind you to slow the transaction down.

This can help your negotiating position, particularly when the sellers are keen to sell quickly, perhaps if they’ve made an offer on another property and don't want it to fall through. 

First-time buyers don't always have access to large deposits, but there are schemes available to help get you on the ladder, such as Shared Ownership and government Help-to-Buy schemes. 

Family members such as parents and grandparents are also becoming a source for help with buying a home. This is often referred to as “the Bank of Mum and Dad”.

How do I buy a house at auction?

The main advantage to buying a house at auction is the opportunity to buy a property below the market value. That said, if you make the successful bid you’re then legally bound to meet the completion deadline stipulated in the contract, whether you’ve obtained a mortgage or not and regardless of you discovering something amiss with the property later on.

What to do first

To buy a house at auction, you should firstly do your research. This means getting your hands on the auctioneer's brochure, enabling you to look at the properties that are available prior to the auction.

If a particular house catches your eye, you should then request a copy of the auctioneer's legal pack, which will contain information pertaining to it, including the title documents and copies of the searches carried out on the property and land.

This is important, as it will contain the materials you and your mortgage lender will need to make an informed decision on purchasing the property. You should instruct your Conveyancing Solicitor to review the pack at this stage, before making a bid, as they may identify legal problems affecting the property.

View the property

It pays not to go into the auction blind, so arranging a viewing of the property beforehand is essential, as is organising a survey to ensure you’re fully aware of any structural problems that may exist, as repair costs would come out of your pocket if you discovered them following a successful bid.

It might also be worth commissioning a valuation, so you can gauge the property's actual worth before deciding how much to budget for.

Have your financials ready

It’s important to have your financing arranged before the auction, as once your bid is accepted, the clock is ticking down to completion. Failure to have the funds in place when the all-important day arrives will result in the purchase falling through and you losing your 10% deposit.

The seller may also sue you for any financial losses they’ve suffered as a result of the sale not going ahead.

On the day of the auction, you should have your 10% deposit cleared and ready, so you can pay it to the auctioneer upon acceptance of your bid. You should also register with the auctioneer, where this is necessary, so that your bid is valid and check the auction brochure to see if the information regarding the property has altered in any way.

Stick to your budget

Finally, when it comes to the actual bidding process, have a clearly defined budget for how much you’re prepared to pay. Stick within this budget and resist the temptation to exceed it.

Funding your conveyancing service

We offer fixed fee conveyancing, meaning that the price we quote you upfront is the price you’ll pay (unless there are unforeseen circumstances, in which case we’ll tell you at the earliest opportunity).

Our Conveyancing quotes include a breakdown of the cost of your conveyancing, including our fees and all disbursements including Stamp Duty and HM Land Registry fees.

Conveyancing awards

Our conveyancing team has Law Society accreditation, and is the winner of a prestigious LFS Conveyancing award, whose annual event is the pinnacle of service recognition within the conveyancing industry.

For free initial advice call our Conveyancing Solicitors

We're happy to help

Monday to Friday 8:30am-7:00pm

08002 605 010

08002 605 010

We're happy to call you

Simply click below to arrange a call

Request a Call Back

Request a Callback

This data will only be used by Simpson Millar in accordance with our Privacy Policy for processing your query and for no other purpose

Simpson Millar is a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Kingston-upon-Thames, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Morecambe and Southport.