Diary of a house purchase

Partner Philippa Rudd, head of our residential property team, brings you her imaginary diary of a typical house purchase detailing the process from finding a house to buy to moving in…

After many months of saving, my fiancé and I are finally able to start house hunting. We know where we want to live; we have a mortgage agreement in principle and we know how much we can afford, taking all the expenses into account.

Time to start house hunting!

We have seen a couple of properties we like and we have had a helpful chat with our solicitor. She has explained to us the difference between leasehold and freehold properties. We had considered a flat, but we are concerned about the service charges and the controls on what we can and can’t do. We think a freehold house would be better for us long term.

We have had a discussion on the conveyancing costs so we know exactly how much to budget for including the stamp duty, land registry fee and all the search fees.

My partner and I are keen on a three-bedroom house, which is only about three years old.

So, we are ready to make an offer and we have had an initial discussion with the estate agent. We have had to show the estate agent our bank statements and the confirmation of a mortgage in principle. I thought this seemed intrusive but I can understand that the estate agent is acting for the seller and they need to know that we are genuine.

Good news! Our offer has been accepted. We are nearly home owners…

Next to tell our solicitor and show her our ID. Also, once she has advised us which searches are necessary we are going to pay for the search fees on my debit card. I am cautious - I want no stone unturned!

Also a discussion with our solicitor about a survey. She explained to us that our mortgage company will have a basic valuation and we could upgrade that to a more detailed survey or we could have our own survey report. She recommended a surveyor to us. However, as we are on a tight budget and the house is still covered by an NHBC guarantee, we have concluded that we will reply on the mortgage valuation.

The house is built in an area which used to be a factory. We have had a discussion with our solicitor about environmental matters. She is going to carry out a special search and she will raise enquiries about the history of the house. We want to be reassured that the site is completely clean and safe.

Our solicitor has told us that the contract has arrived. The documents were all a bit daunting at first but, having read them all carefully, we understand what the various forms mean. There is a list of contents, with the seller having given prices for items of furniture which we could buy from them. There is also an information form which gives practical information about the utilities, parking, improvements they have carried out and so on.

Next on our list is a frank discussion about how we will co-own the house and what will happen if we split up or one of us dies. Tricky issues and I have had to insist that should we split, I want to be paid back the money that my grandparents left to me. We are also thinking about having wills drawn up, for peace of mind. Our solicitor has suggested that we have a trust deed drawn up; this will set out our respective shares in the house and provide for what will happen if we split up or should one of us die (gloomy topics but it is important to have our wishes properly recorded, just in case).

Our solicitor rang today and told us that she has replies to her enquiries, search results and our mortgage offer. No turning back now; time to sign the contract.

We wanted to meet our solicitor to go over all the paperwork together. We had a useful meeting and we could see where the shared access way is, also the boundary markings on the land registry plan. I was interested in the planning permission and the history of the estate.

We have paid the 10% deposit and we have both signed the contract. We don’t dare book removals yet as I fear a waiting game is ahead. Our sellers have had a bit of a problem with the house they are buying. Luckily our solicitor knows their solicitor so they have kept in touch and we are told that the problem is nearly sorted.

We had a chat with our solicitor this morning and she told us to have our buildings insurance standing by as we might exchange contracts today. After some debate, we have given in on the completion (moving) date that our sellers suggested. It wasn’t convenient for my partner but in order to get the deal done, he has relented.

We have exchanged! We are committed now and so are the sellers; the completion date is fixed so it is time to pack.

The day of our move has finally arrived. Thank goodness it is sunny and dry. Our solicitor has been super efficient and to our surprise, she rang us by mid morning and told us we could collect the keys from the estate agent. Note to self: buy solicitor a thank you gift. She has made the whole process stress free by giving us regular up dates and liaising with everyone involved.

Time now to unpack and settle in to our lovely new home. Who said moving home was stressful; this has been a breeze!

To find out more, call us on: 01603 625231