Are You Thinking Of Buying A Property?

Here are some pointers:

Find A Property That Suits You - Not as easy as it sounds! Do not be disheartened, you will find one eventually. Make a checklist of everything that you need from a property and only visit those that meet all the conditions on paper. Once you have found the right property, check its condition thoroughly (see below). Visit the property several times and take friends with you who have moved before or are tradesmen of some kind. Do this before making an offer.

Arrange The Money - Very few people have the money to buy a property without borrowing. Everybody else needs a mortgage (a loan secured against the property). Visit Mortgages and More in Peter Carrol's office to see which is the best for you. Some offer discounts, fixed rate mortgages, low start mortgages and special deals for new borrowers or first time buyers. When you decide who to borrow from make an appointment to fill in the appropriate forms.

Check The Condition Of the Property - Remember, no matter what problems you might discover with a house after you have bought it, it is not very likely that you will have any claims against the previous owners. The Bank or Building Society will send a Valuer to make a brief check of the property but it is only to check if the price that you offered matches their valuation. Have a more detailed survey carried out - if you need we can recommend a surveyor. This may cost more money, but is well worth it, particularly if the property is over 10 years old.

A Solicitor - Solicitors perform area searches against the property and make other enquiries on your behalf, basically acting as a go-between for you and the vendor. They also go through the items included or not included in the sale, and they check legal problems with the house, including previous ownership etc. Finally, they make sure that your mortgage offer meets all the requirement.

Exchanging Contracts - When you are ready to go ahead, your solicitor will send you all the details they have about the house and ask you to make an appointment with them to sign the contracts and pay the deposit. The deposit should be 10% of the purchase price, although less is sometimes acceptable. However, if you are also selling your present house, the deposit received on the sale can be used for your purchase. Your solicitor will ask you when you want to move in and will propose that date to the owners. If they agree, contracts are 'exchanged' and from that time you cannot change your mind and 'back out' - neither can the owners. Your solicitor usually takes around 10 days after the 'exchange' of contracts to organise completion.

After Exchange Of Contracts - You should make arrangements to take over supplies of gas, electricity, water etc. by contacting the authorities and signing to take these over from the day you move in. Numbers are listed below. Your solicitor will send you the mortgage and transfer deeds for you to sign. A statement giving a breakdown of all monies received (including your mortgage) and the amount you are due to him/her will be sent to you at this time. You should pay all of this at least 3 days before the completion (moving date.)

The Moving Day - You have paid for the house on this day and you receive the keys. These will either be released to you by the Estate Agents or may be passed direct to you by the owners. It is not possible to give an exact time of when you can have the keys, but it is usually before 2pm. Keep in contact with your solicitor on the moving day, in case of any problems.

After You Have Moved In - In return for handing over the money for the house, your solicitor receives the title deeds. However, their work is far from over - they must now arrange for the payment of Stamp Duty (if any) to the Inland Revenue, and they must register you as owners of the house and register your mortgage with the land registry. Once this is done, they will send the documents proving you own the house (the deeds) to your Building Society, provided that you have a mortgage. If you have no mortgage they will hold the deeds on your behalf or send them to you for safe keeping.

Useful Numbers - Remember to have all utility meters read and bill sent to your new address.

WATER 0345 697 982 Three Valleys Water
GAS 0645 555 700 British Gas
ELECTRICITY 020 8905 1144 Eastern Electricity
TELEPHONE 150 British Telecom
COUNCIL TAX 020 8937 1234 London Borough of Brent