Buyer FAQs

I want to buy a property. What do I do first?

Before you start searching for a property, you need to work out how much the move is likely to cost and see what kind of mortgage deposit you can afford. Our professional Financial Consultants can help you calculate all the costs involved in the house buying process. To see the full buying process, click here.

I've found a property I love. What do I do now?

You need to apply for a mortgage and find a solicitor before you can make an offer. Intercounty can help you with both of these services. Just contact your local branch for more information. Or, to see the full buying process, click here.

What if I want to buy a property with another person?

There are two main options.

Becoming joint tenants is ideal if you are a couple, particularly if you’re married. It means you will both jointly own the whole of the property. If the worst happens and one of you should die, the ownership will automatically pass to the other. The second option is to hold the property as tenants in common, which means each of you owns an agreed proportion of the property. You might decide that you own the property equally, or that one of you will own 70% and the other 30% (for example). Should one of you die their proportion will not pass to whoever is specified in the deceased’s will.

A joint purchase should always be made with the expert advice of a solicitor.

How long will it take to complete my purchase?

Every purchase is different, and your position and the seller’s position needs to be taken into consideration before this question can be answered accurately. If the seller has already vacated the property and you have already secured a mortgage exchange of contracts and completion can happen quickly. However, if you need a mortgage and the seller is still in the property, the exchange of contracts normally takes between 4 and 6 weeks, the completion takes between 2 and 4 weeks. So in total you should expect up to 10 weeks to complete the purchase.

How much will conveyancing cost?

‘Conveyancing’ sounds like boring legal stuff, but it’s everything that needs to happen to make the property officially yours. It can be a confusing process and you need a solicitor to make it happen. Intercounty can introduce you to a solicitor and offer a no sale no fee conveyancing service with a guaranteed fixed price to keep everything easy. Contact your local branch to receive an accurate quote for how much this will cost.

How much will stamp duty cost?

When you buy a property in the UK over a certain price you have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). In December 2014 the way stamp duty calculated changed and now you only pay the rate of tax on the part of the property price within each tax band – like income tax.

As of April 2016 the stamp duty levels increase for investors purchasing buy-to-let property and other second properties, such as holiday homes, in which owners do not intend to live full-time.

For further details visit here.

Do I need a survey?

A survey isn’t compulsory, but we recommend that you arrange one whenever you purchase a property. It allows you to see the current condition of the property, reducing the chance of nasty surprises further down the line. There are three main types of surveys with varying costs, but most conventional properties will require a Condition Report. Your local Intercounty branch can introduce you to a local surveyor from our sister company e.surv who is the largest provider of surveys in the country. To read more about surveys, click here.

In addition, your mortgage lender will arrange a mortgage valuation that you will have to pay for in order to secure a mortgage. A mortgage valuation merely confirms that the property is worth what you are being leant and will not give details on the condition of the property.

When do I need to pay the deposit?

The deposit is paid to the seller’s solicitor, usually within five days of the exchange of contracts.

When will my mortgage lender release the funds?

The mortgage will be requested from the lender by your solicitor. It usually takes around 4-5 working days for the lender to release the money being leant. Your solicitor will take this time into account when advising you of the earliest possible completion date.

When do I need to arrange insurance?

We recommend organising home and contents insurance shortly before you sign the contract. Intercounty has an Insurance Services department who offer a range of competitive products from a panel of lenders. To keep things easy we’ll be in contact with you to discuss your needs. Don’t forget, you need all insurance policies to begin from the exchange of contract date.

You should also consider organising mortgage protection so that your family isn’t pressured to meet your mortgage happen in the worst case scenario of illness or death. This should be arranged when you complete you mortgage application.

What are searches?

Your solicitor will perform searches of Land Registry and Local Authority information. They will be checking for planning history, and any potential developments around roads, drainage and mining near the property.

When do I sign the contract?

After the sale is agreed, the seller’s solicitor will draft a contract. Your solicitor will confirm the details of the property and perform searches. At the same time, your mortgage lender will need to conduct a mortgage valuation and send you a mortgage offer. Once all of this is complete, you will be ready to sign the completion date.

When is the buyer or seller bound to the sale or purchase?

Until both solicitors receive signed contracts from the seller and the buyer, either party can pull out at any time and for any reason.

How is a completion date chosen?

Once both parties have signed the contracts, the mortgage will be requested from the lender by your solicitor. The mortgage lender will let your solicitor know when the funds will be released, then your solicitor and the seller’s solicitor will consult both parties and agree a completion date.

How and when do I get the keys?

The contract will detail specifically where and when you collect the keys and what time the seller has to vacate the property. The norm is that the seller must vacate the property by 12pm, and the keys collected from the seller’s estate agent at 2pm.

What happens to my title deeds?

Even after you’ve received the keys to your property, there is still a significant amount of work to be carried out by your solicitor. The title deeds of your property will remain with your solicitor for some months before finally being sent to your Lender for storage. They will hold the deeds until such time as you repay in full the mortgage you have with them.

What will the seller leave in the property?

A list of fixtures and fittings will be agreed between the solicitors prior to the contract being signed. This sets out what they intend to remove and what they are prepared to include in the house price. In some instances they may offer items for sale for the purchaser to consider, and some contents can be offered for inclusion as part of the negotiation of the purchase price.

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