Preparing to move home is such an exciting time – but staying on top everything can be a challenge. For example, 38% of people we surveyed didn’t know what a solicitor or conveyancer does during the moving process. That’s why we’ve created this easy-to-read guide with advice from an expert conveyancer plus all our best tips.
We’ll cover almost everything you could want to know in the build up to selling or buying a home. There’s information on mortgages, deposits and packing – as well as a handy checklist for viewing properties.
Mortgages – our conveyancer’s top tips
A guide to getting a mortgage
Simply put, a mortgage is a loan used specifically to buy a property. Most mortgages will be paid back gradually over anything between 15-35 years. The loan is secured against your home – this means if you fail to keep up with your mortgage payments then your home will be at risk.
When looking for a mortgage, one option is to do the research yourself. Hit the Internet or the High Street to find the right deal and work directly with a bank, building society or another authorised mortgage provider. Alternatively, you can use an independent mortgage advisor who will scour the mortgage market for the best deal for your circumstances. They can often also advise on insurance and payment protection.
The first step is to get a mortgage in principle. This indicates that a lender is willing to offer you a mortgage – it also shows that you are creditworthy and serious about buying. Take this step at the start of your search to understand what you can afford, then you can focus on properties within your budget. Once your offer on a property is accepted, you will need to proceed to a full mortgage offer. Your lender will probably want a lot of documentation, including bank statements, proof of earnings and proof of identity. It usually takes 2 to 14 days to receive your formal offer. (Huge top tip – keep all these documents handy as your conveyancer will also need them to check your ID – a legal obligation for them).
Your mortgage deposit is the amount that you pay upfront when buying your property. Most lenders will ask for between 5-10% of the purchase price as a minimum. The more you put in as a deposit, the smaller the mortgage – meaning you’ll be paying interest on a smaller total amount.
Another important consideration is the proportion of the total cost of the property that is covered by your deposit. This is known as the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. The greater the deposit (as a percentage of the sale price), the better the rate that lenders will generally offer.
To qualify for a mortgage, you may need to do some homework first. This could include looking over your credit report to understand your credit profile and your indicative credit score. These reports are usually free and there are several agencies you can use. Having a strong credit score with a low amount of existing borrowing will stand you in good stead for being accepted.
Our top ten tips for viewing a house
Searching for and viewing a house can be really exciting – but it can be time consuming too. These top tips from our team of expert conveyancers will help you search efficiently and make the most of each viewing.
- Make sure you’ve already got a mortgage agreement in principle when viewing properties, otherwise you may spend time looking at properties that could be out of your budget.
- Be ready to make an offer if you do find the perfect property – this is another good reason to have your mortgage sorted in advance.
- Before you view, write a list of important questions to ask. It’s all too easy to fall in love with a property but forget to ask how old the windows are or when the boiler was installed or last serviced. If you need more inspiration, take a look at our property viewing questions guide.
- Think about the future as well as the present. Your questions should help you spot any red flags that might cause issues later. It’s better to find out about a potential problem now, rather than from your conveyancer when they look at the searches later on.
- Keep an eye out for damp anywhere in the building.
- Have a good sniff too! Your nose may detect issues with drains or damp that aren’t visible.
- Stop and listen. Are there noises from traffic, neighbours, schools or businesses that you need to consider?
- Check out the garden and look for problem trees, Japanese knotweed or other invasive plants.
- Try the taps to check out water pressure and listen for unusual sounds from the plumbing.
- Have a good look around at the fixtures and fittings. If you make an offer that is accepted the seller will be asked to create a list of what is included in the sale. They may ask you to pay for certain items in addition to the sale price – this is normal, but you’ll need to have an idea of what you want to keep.
Print off this useful checklist when going to view a property, so you can make sure you ask all of the important questions!
Top packing tips for moving home
When the time comes to find a conveyancer and start the buying or selling process you’ll be grateful for anything you’ve done in advance to be more prepared and organised.
• One simple tip is to start accumulating sturdy cardboard boxes early on so that you get ahead with packing when the time comes.
• Think about what you own and how much of it you want to move. This can be a great time to have a clear out – and you’ll also be reducing the cost of removals. Are there any kids’ toys that aren’t played with that you could gift on? Are there clothes in your wardrobe you haven’t worn for a few years? Do a little each week – starting now will mean that clearing out and packing isn’t such a big task.
• Pack those things now that you know you won’t need before moving. This even applies to winter clothes and Christmas decorations if you’ve moving in summer, or garden furniture and tools if you’ve moving in winter. And don’t forget to label everything as you go!
Top tip – make sure you label each box with its contents and which room it should be taken to in your new home. It’ll save confusion on the day, whether using a removals firm or doing it yourself.
• Have a box for essentials that is easy to spot. Use it for must-haves like your toothbrush, kettle, phone charger and important documents from your conveyancer. Keep this box close and easy to access once you reach your new home.
• And don’t forget to make sure your phone is fully charged on moving day – there will be some important calls coming through from your estate agent and conveyancer, and the last thing you want is a flat battery.