Guide to Buying a Property

Here, you will find information on every step of buying a property in England & Wales.

Looking For A Property

The first thing, as a buyer, is to decide on your search criteria for a property. There are many things to consider when purchasing a new property; the location, the style of the property (Older, newer, bungalow, flat or house) number of bedrooms, reception rooms and bathrooms, the garaging and parking, the garden and, of course, the price you're prepared to pay.

After looking at a few properties you may be lucky enough to find you're dream property, but if you don't, then don't be disappointed. Most buyers change their requirements after looking at a number of properties and settle on something that is close, but not quite what they had in mind in the first place.

At this stage, we would also advise looking into how much you can borrow on a mortgage before going to visit any properties.


Book viewings! There is nothing quite like actually going to view the property. Sure, you can get a good idea from the photos, floorplans and descriptions, but you can't really get a feel unless you go and visit the property. You can get a 'feeling' for the property and a real idea of the location and its situation by actually going to view the property. When you see somewhere that you would like to go and visit, give the agent a call, and give them your details. If you've seen one through Hatched, then you can use the online 'Arrange a Viewing' link which is listed next to each property, or give us a call.

Make sure you give ALL the details that the agent asks for. They are acting for the seller and part of any good estate agents' service is to gather this information. Once the viewing has taken place, the agent you have viewed through will contact you, so they can gather feedback from you regarding the property. This is vitally important, so again, please do communicate your feedback honestly and as fully as you can - it might help the owner to improve the property, but it will also help the agent to identify what you're not looking for.


If you like the property that you have viewed and you can see yourself living there; make an offer! Even if you think the property is overpriced, make an offer - you don't know unless you ask. Give the estate agent a call with information on your mortgage, your own chain details and the amount you would like to offer and the estate agent will be in touch with feedback on what the owner has said about your offer.

Instructing a Conveyancer

This is done alongside arranging the mortgage and should be done as soon as possible after you have had your offer accepted. Conveyancing is the legal process of buying a property. Your conveyancer is acting for you and you should refer to them on a regular basis for information relating to the purchase. The estate agent you buy through will often call your conveyancer for updates, so it's a good idea to choose a conveyancer who is happy to communicate with estate agents on a regular basis. After all, there is a certain degree of 'keeping the agent happy' because it is they, that will keep the seller 'on side', should there be any problems or delays. Try to find a 'No Sale, No Legal Fee' Conveyancer as well. If you would like a free, no obligation quote, head over to our sister site, Hatched Conveyancing.

Arranging a Mortgage

Before you even start viewing properties, you should have researched what you can afford in the way of a mortgage and what the lender is prepared to give you.

The formal application is done alongside the conveyancing. You have a choice as to how to arrange a mortgage - you can go through your bank, or maybe get advice from a financial advisor. There are thousands of advisors and hundreds of mortgage products in the market at any one time, so it is a bit of a minefield. We think the best bet, is to get advice from an independent financial advisor. A financial advisor will often offer independent advice and guide you through the many different mortgages that are available. Not to mention fill out all the paperwork that comes with applying for a mortgage!

The Legal Process

Draft Contract

When you have appointed your chosen conveyancer, they will normally send you a starter pack. Fill this out as soon as you can, send it back, and they will start work for you immediately. A draft contract is drawn up by the sellers' solicitor and sent to your solicitor, who will then raise some initial enquiries and proceed with various Local Authority, Environmental and Land Registry Searches.

Local Authority Search

This is done by your solicitor and is obtained from the Local Borough Council. This gives you and your solicitor information on any planning consents given and any local issues amongst many other things. If there are any major issues, then your conveyancer should point these out to you.


If you are getting a mortgage then fill out the paperwork and pay over the survey fee as quickly as you can. This will show that you are serious to the estate agent, and in turn, the seller of the property. The bank will then instruct a surveyor to go and inspect the property. The surveyor is there to advise the bank (and you) if there any structural problems and also offer advice on the value of the property. Surveyors will occasionally 'down value' a property, or suggest that there is work that needs to be done on the property - always speak to the estate agent if something like this happens, or indeed, if anything else comes up on a survey - you'll be surprised at how many of these issues can be resolved satisfactorily, if you speak to the estate agent you are buying through.

Contract Approval

Once the local search results are back, initial enquiries are received and your solicitor has dealt with any further outstanding issues, your conveyancer will approve the draft contract.

Formal Mortgage Offer

Once the surveyor has submitted his findings and the bank is happy with everything, the bank will send out a formal mortgage offer to your solicitor. A copy will normally be sent you also. Once you sign this paperwork and send it back, you are nearly ready to exchange contracts.

Exchange of Contracts

This is signed by both the seller and you, with a completion date set. A deposit is usually paid at this point; normally anything from 5% of the purchase price upwards. Once contracts are exchanged the transaction is legally binding and there are serious consequences should you fail to complete the transaction. Not completing now, is really not an option! Be excited though - this is the start of a new chapter in your life!


This can take place as early as the same day as exchange of contracts, but is normally between 1 and 4 weeks after you exchange contracts. The balance is drawn down to your solicitor, who will transfer the money to the sellers' solicitor. Once this has gone through you will be allowed to collect the keys and move into your new home! Congratulations, you've just bought a property!

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