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Making an offer

The nitty gritty

Once you have found a property that you would like to buy, the next step is to make an offer, normally through the estate agent. In deciding what you are prepared to pay, bear in mind the properties state of repair and how much you would have to spend on building work or redecoration. Although the agent may have tried to factor this into the asking price they will normally be prepared to tell you this or whether the vendor will be open to offers.

If there are several potential purchasers interested in a particular property or the market is particularly strong the seller is more likely to hold out for the asking price, or might even be using the "Offers Over" system where you may have to offer in excess of the asking price.

Once your offer has been accepted, the estate agent will confirm this in writing in the form of a "Memorandum of Sale" which will also include any further information relating to the sale. You can then go ahead with having your survey arranged and finalizing your mortgage arrangements.

All purchasers should note that the acceptance of the offer is not legally binding until contracts have been exchanged. If a higher offer comes along then the agent must put this forward to the Vendor and this can create the temptation for the seller to abandon any previous offers and accept the higher one, a process known as "gazumping". Being gazumped could leave you both frustrated and out of pocket on expenses such as legal costs and survey fees but unfortunately is a risk you have to take.

Once your offer has been accepted the estate agent will want to know whom you will be using for your conveyancing. This will be a solicitor or a law firm who will deal with the legal side of the sale.

Finding a Solicitor

If you are first time buyer, you will not have to worry about selling your property before you can proceed but you will still need to find a solicitor to carry out the conveyancing on the purchase.

Conveyancing comprises the following tasks:

  • * Obtaining the deeds which legally prove the property belongs to the person who is selling it.

  • * Researching where the properties legal boundaries lie and passing this information on to the buyer.

  • * Preparing a fixtures, fittings and contents list which makes clear what exactly will be included in the purchase price, for example white goods or carpets.

  • * This enquiry form will also ask the vendor whether they are aware of any defects to the property that the buyer should know about.

  • * Advising the purchaser on a draft contract for sale, prepared by the sellers solicitor, setting out the terms of the purchase

  • * Carrying out a search of the local planning information to uncover details of any future developments which could affect the properties value.

  • * Agreeing a date for the completion which is suitable for both the buyer and the seller.

Conveyancing often takes longer than expected but try to be patient as it is a very important process.

Conducting a Survey

Once the offer has been accepted, a survey is needed to assess the properties condition and value.?Your mortgage lender will require at least a basic valuation before approving any loan. Any surveyor that is used should be a member of the Royal Institute Of Chartered Surveyors or the Incorporated Society of Valuers and Auctioneers (now merged with RICS). Where the survey does reveal a serious problem, you are free to withdraw your offer. If the problems can be fixed, you may be able to use the survey results to negotiate a reduction in the sale price.