Buying Guide

Buying a property can be an incredibly exciting time. However, it’s a big commitment, so it’s best to ensure you understand the process to ensure you’re prepared.

What do I need to consider when buying a property?

Finances and Affordability

Firstly, you need to work out how much buying a property will cost you. It can be tempting to just consider the cost of the deposit itself, but when it comes to buying property, there are other costs involved.

As a buyer, there will be legal costs, the expense of a survey of the property (always advisable!) and other fees, such as Stamp Duty. Stamp Duty varies depending on the price of the property, whether you’re a first-time buyer and the purpose of the purchase (homeowner or buy to let, for example).

If you’re buying with a mortgage, then it’s very important to get an ‘Agreement/Decision in Principle’ from your preferred lender. When you offer on a property, you’ll also need to provide proof of funding.

Bearing these costs in mind, it’s best to set a budget at the beginning of your property search, which considers all the costs involved. This will ensure that you don’t underestimate the expense required or overestimate the funds you must put towards the cost of the property itself.

The Property Search

Once you have an idea of the costs involved and your budget, it’s a good idea to add your preferences to property sites, such as Rightmove and Zoopla. This way, you’ll receive notifications when suitable properties become available. It’s also a good idea to register your property requirements with local estate agents, so you can find out about properties that meet your search criteria before many other people see them. Register with Handles Property today to become one of the first to find out.


When you see a property advertised that you like the look of, the next step is to arrange a viewing. It’s best to arrange a viewing appointment sooner rather than later, as good properties can go very quickly in today’s market.

At Handles Property, all viewings are accompanied, to enable quicker and easier access. If you’re travelling from a distance, it’s advisable to confirm the viewing beforehand.
Similarly, if you have a particular criteria, such as a large garden or being close to certain amenities, it’s best to discuss this with the estate agent before you attend any viewings. That way, you won’t waste your time viewing unsuitable properties.

The Offer Stage

Once you’ve viewed a property you like, the next step is to make an offer. When making an offer on a property, it’s important to keep your budget in mind during the negotiation stage. You should also ensure you find out whether any fixtures and fittings will be included as part of the sale, as this will affect your budget for furnishing the property. If there are fixtures and fittings that you would prefer to be left for you as part of the purchase, then you may need to negotiate for this during the offer stage or pay an additional sum for items.

You should also consider the timescale of the purchase. This is important. Just like you, the seller may also have a time-sensitive sale and need to complete quite quickly, so they can move into their next property by a certain time.

If you need to sell a property in order to buy another, then it’s standard practice for the estate agent to call your estate agent to ‘check the chain’. In other words, to see where you’re at in the process of selling your property and ensure the owners of the property you’d like to buy are made aware too. You’ll also need to provide proof of funds and allow the estate agent to check your identity and address.

Instructing a Solicitor

When you decide to purchase a property, you’ll need to instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf. If you’re getting a mortgage to facilitate the purchase, then your solicitor will also have to report to your chosen lender.

The solicitor will normally send you their terms of business for you to sign. At this stage, it’s likely that they will request an initial payment to be made to cover the costs of local searches. It’s important to return the terms of business to your solicitor and pay for the local searches as soon as possible, as they won’t be able to begin the property exchange process until these necessary steps have been taken.

What is the Difference Between Exchange and Completion?

Exchange and completion are terms often confused. In short, exchange takes place when contracts have been signed by both parties. Completion is the date on which you move into your new property.

Once your solicitor has carried out their checks on the property and received satisfactory replies to enquiries, they’ll ask you to come in to sign the contract or send it to you via post to sign and return.

At this stage, if you’re unsure of anything, then your solicitor can make further enquiries on your behalf. Once you’re happy with the contract they’ll ask you for a deposit (normally 5% - 10% of the purchase price, assuming you have a mortgage) to enable them to exchange contracts.

Once contracts are exchanged, the transaction becomes legally binding, and the completion date is set.

If you need any further support or guidance with any stage of your property journey, please get in touch with Handles Property today.

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