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Guide to buying

Finances - what can you afford?

Almost all property purchases are made using a mortgage. To find out how much you can borrow and repay, you should book an appointment with a mortgage advisor. Since new lending rules were introduced in 2014, the mortgage application process has become more detailed, and borrowers have to declare all their financial commitments during the application process, as well as illustrate how they would repay their mortgage should interest rates rise. Be prepared to reveal all your monthly outgoings - including spending on food, luxuries and leisure activities

Register with us

Before you rush off to register with property portals, contact us first. There are advantages to being registered directly with estate agents working in the location in which you wish to live. Many properties for sale in Camden Town and Kentish Town never make it online as we show the property details to our waiting list of buyers before we've even ordered a 'for sale' board. If you would like first refusal on houses and flats for sale in NW5 and NW1, E1 contact our team today. Tell us what type of property you are looking for and how much you have to spend, and we'll give you first refusal on homes that match your requirements.

Your deposit

Buying a home with a mortgage requires a deposit. For those purchasing their first home, this will need to be an amount of cash held in a bank account, of which your mortgage lender will need evidence. The bigger your deposit, the lower the rate of interest your mortgage will have. For existing homeowners, a deposit is usually substantiated by equity in the current property, although additional funds can be used to boost the deposit or should the property be in negative equity.

Conducting successful viewings

It's easy to let your heart rule your head, so if you think your emotions might take over, prepare a checklist and a set of questions before you visit any property. Ask about commuting times and rail ticket prices; establish how much the annual utility and council tax bills are; find out about any parking problems or restrictions; check the age of any appliances being left behind and ask if the boiler has been regularly serviced. In short, we would love to do business with you whether you would like to market a block of fifty flats or a single refurbishment. Take a look at what some of our customers say about us.

Making an offer

It's best to direct any offers to your estate agent, who will pass these on to the seller verbally and in writing. Any negotiating over the sum and the contents of the property will also be handled by your estate agent.

The legal bit

As soon as an offer is accepted, instruct a conveyance solicitor. They will be responsible for steering the legal side of the purchase through exchange and completion, making sure that the relevant searches, documents and finances are in place before you become the new owner of the property. Their work will include verifying that the current owner has the right to sell the property; that any structural work to extend/alter the property had planning consent and that there are no detrimental environmental factors affecting the land or the local vicinity.

The survey

Your mortgage lender will send a surveyor to the property you are buying to establish two main things: that the property is actually worth the money the lender is loaning, and to qualify the condition of the property in respect of structural faults. There are three different surveys you can request, depending on how thorough you want the building inspection to be. The results of the survey may influence whether you go ahead with the purchase or reduce your offer. If you have checked the survey results and are happy to proceed, both parties' solicitors will issue contracts to be signed and returned. This is the last point at which you can pull out of a purchase without financial loss.

Exchange of contracts

This is when the signed contracts are exchanged between the buyers' solicitor and the sellers' solicitor. It's also the point at which your deposit will be transferred to the sellers' solicitor. Once complete, the purchase becomes legally binding. Should you wish to pull out after this point, you would lose your deposit and potentially pay legal costs. As a buyer, you are now legally responsible for the property and it is essential to have buildings insurance in place, even if you're not living at the property. Your estate agent will negotiate a moving date with the sellers' estate agent, so you can book a removal company.

Completion and Moving in

Completion normally occurs around two weeks after the exchange of contracts have been signed and usually coincides with the actual moving day. On the day itself your solicitor will organise for the mortgage funds to be transferred to the sellers' solicitor. When the funds have cleared, your estate agent will receive a call giving permission to release the keys to you, the new owner.