6th October 2016
In today’s competitive property market finding the house of your dreams is only the first hurdle. To make sure that it is you turning the key to the front door, and not somebody else, you will need to be able to move quickly to secure the property. Myers & Co Solicitors in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, outlines six ways to speed up your house purchase.
We are often asked: how long does it take to buy a house? Sadly, there is no definitive answer. For a straightforward transaction, six to eight weeks is typical but a number of factors may complicate matters and cause delays. However, smart buyers know that doing their homework and being prepared can give them the advantage.
Arranging a mortgage can take several weeks, so it makes sense to start the process early. It is best to have a lender’s agreement in principle about how much they would be willing to lend you, before making an offer on a property. Estate agents and sellers will then know you are a serious buyer, and that you will be able to proceed quickly when the time comes.
You will need a formal mortgage offer before exchanging contracts. Your lender will need to carry out detailed checks on your identity and finances. Supply them with all of the information they require, promptly. If they make their offer subject to certain conditions, discuss these with your conveyancer to ensure that you can satisfy them in the desired timescale.
Your mortgage lender will almost certainly require a valuation of the property, to make sure it provides sufficient security for the loan. They will instruct their own valuer and usually charge you a fee. It is important to understand that this valuation is for their benefit, not yours. You should therefore arrange for your own survey or homebuyer’s report to be carried out in addition.
Take advice on which type of survey is most appropriate for the property you are buying. A building survey is the most comprehensive report on the state of the property and, although it is the most expensive type of survey, it does not usually include a valuation. A homebuyer’s report will give you detailed information about the property, but not as much as a full survey, and often includes a valuation.
Investigate the possibility of a combined valuation and survey, or condition report, with your lender. A single surveyor can then carry out both at the same time.
Surveyors can be booked up for weeks ahead. So, whichever type of survey you opt for, booking your survey at an early stage will help to avoid delays.
You should also allow yourself time to investigate any issues the survey reveals. Some problems can even be anticipated. For example, if you are buying an older property, it is more likely to have problems such as dry rot, damp or structural issues that may require further analysis. By researching a list of specialists in advance, to provide an expert report and estimate the cost of remedial work if required, you could save yourself valuable time.
The estate agent will want your conveyancer’s details as soon as your offer is accepted. Your solicitor can then contact the seller’s solicitor, and get the conveyancing process started straightaway.
Using a conveyancer who is on your lender’s approved panel may save you time and money. They should be familiar with the lender’s detailed requirements, and can act for both you and the lender.
However, the most important thing is to choose a lawyer who has a good reputation and in whom you have confidence.
A specialist conveyancer should identify potential title problems, and suggest creative solutions. For example, an application for retrospective consent may cure an apparent breach of planning or the seller may agree to insure against the risk of enforcement action.
Nonetheless, obtaining the relevant information and agreeing a way forward takes time. So, if you know about any issues affecting the property, tell your solicitor as soon as possible.
Your solicitor will carry out a number of conveyancing searches, including a local authority search. This reveals certain statutory matters, like planning enforcement notices, which could affect the property.
Turnaround times vary depending upon the local authority but they can take several weeks and become a major source of delay. Having a proactive conveyancer will help, as they can start the process early and make the most of time-saving technologies like online search facilities.
It may be quicker for an agent to carry out the search in person, rather than the local authority officials. However, not all lenders will accept personal searches. Your solicitor can explain the options.
If you are in a chain, progress may be slow because of issues beyond your control.
A chain arises where one transaction depends upon another. You can find yourself in a chain even if you are a first-time buyer. For example, your sellers may experience problems with their purchase that could affect their sale to you.
Buying from somebody who is chain-free can eliminate this risk but always check the seller’s status with the agent and ask your conveyancer to confirm this. Circumstances may change, so make sure you also get regular updates.
If you are in a chain, it is important to understand the dependencies. Talk to your seller and their agent regularly. Monitor what is happening with any related transactions and make sure everyone is working to the same target completion date.
Good communication can keep things on track and avoid any glitches.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.