Thursday, 22 September 2016

Buying a House – Solicitors and Surveys

This post follows on from my ‘Putting in an Offer’ post and is part 3 in the series of buying a house. The next step once our offer was accepted on the house was to fully apply for the mortgage. We instructed a solicitor who was happy to act on our behalf and we gave the estate agent their details. Once applying for the mortgage via our financial adviser we had to pay for a survey. We weren’t expecting to have to pay for this so soon and the funds weren’t in place so we had to take some out of our deposit with a view of paying this back before everything was completed. I was so worried at this stage. When money gets involved it feels more real and if it all went wrong then we would be out of pocket with nothing to show for it.

There are a few different types of survey and this will all be explained to you when the time comes. We went for a Homebuyers Survey which cost £200 but this will vary per lender. The survey was booked for 2 weeks after applying for the mortgage. You will probably feel like you’re in limbo at this point. We also knew our seller hadn’t found a house so the chain hadn’t even been set up and we were already paying for things which worried me. I had no idea what was meant to happen next or what we needed to do. I spent hours on google and read hundreds of horror stories.

Before our survey took place I was told I was potentially being made redundant from work. All my hopes and dreams were shattered. If I was made redundant then our mortgage application and offer would have been withdrawn. Even if I found another job there was no guarantee I would be on the same wage meaning the amount we could borrow would reduce and we would lose the house. Of all the things that I had researched that could go wrong, this was not something I expected and made all the other horror stories seem trivial. We continued as normal hoping and praying we would complete before my impending doom. I knew if we could just get the house then we would be fine and we would be able to run it from James’ wage until I found another job. The survey took place and the mortgage lenders sent us a text saying they were reviewing the valuation report. In the meantime the seller found a vacant property which meant we had no chain – hurrah! We hoped this would speed things along. The estate agents needed to send over a Memorandum of Sale to the solicitors which they still hadn’t done so we chased that up and awaited the survey results. Thankfully I kept my job too if you were wondering!

The day after our survey took place we were told that the mortgage offer had been issued and we awaited this to arrive by post and hoped that it matched the amount we wanted to borrow. This was then re-issued due to a spelling error with my surname! Trust me to have an awkward name!

We then received our welcome pack from the solicitors which outlined all of their fees and asked for us to pay for the searches as soon as possible. I wanted to get things moving so I sent the payment straight away and filled out all of the forms required which proved we had the deposit, insurance and some information on our identity. They also asked for our ‘desired completion date’ so we went as early as we could – 6 weeks into the future so we could get in ASAP if possible! The next day we popped into the Solicitors office to prove our identity physically to avoid any further delays. We were told the searches could take up to 6 weeks because they relied on the local council to get the results back to them. This actually took around 3 weeks in the end.

The next stage involved waiting for the sellers solicitor to send over a draft contract. We chased the estate agent for this and when we found out it had been sent we then chased our solicitor. So much of the house buying process is just chase chase chase! In the meantime we received the results from the survey. There were some things that were classed as ‘level 3’ which need immediate attention. These included gas, electrics and heating but we were advised that these will always be flagged up as the surveyor cannot physically test them and generally people don’t have the safety certificates as it’s not a legal requirement unless the house is a rental. There was also mention of the property not having any mains powered smoke alarms. Most houses I have been in do not have these, just battery powered ones so we weren’t too concerned with this point. There was nothing on there that made us feel any different about the house and none of it devalued it.

We received some documents in the post and the searches were started. The documents consisted of all of the fixtures and fittings that the seller is leaving. Some people will even take the lightbulbs with them! We were really lucky in that our seller left us the washing machine, fridge, freezer, oven, mirrors and even garden furniture. We plan to replace these items eventually but the initial expense this saved us was fantastic and after a good clean they would definitely do the job.

The water searches came back after 2 days but the local ones took longer and came back after roughly 3 weeks and we then had to wait for the solicitor to prepare their final report on all of the findings of the searches and the contract information ready for exchange. When we received this report it detailed the final balance payable to complete and lots of information about the house. It was interesting to see what had been going on behind the scenes, the solicitors had even arranged for the seller to have the boiler serviced which was handy!

We wanted to exchange as soon as possible so we signed the contracts, the mortgage deed and settled the funds the next day. All that was left to do was to exchange and complete….

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