Guide to Buying a Property

Buying a Property

Find a suitable mortgage product

Whether you are looking to purchase your first property, thinking of buying an investment property, adding to your existing property portfolio or moving home your first port of call will need to be speaking to an independent mortgage advisor or a high-street bank/ building society. Taking into account your personal circumstances such as income, monthly expenditure and existing financial commitments the advisor/ bank/ building society will use their screening process to determine the best mortgage product available to you. To ensue you are in a strong negotiating position later in the process, when it comes to making an offer, we would recommend you request a printed copy of your ‘mortgage agreement in principle’ clearly stating that you have been approved for a product.

Set your budget

It is very important to set aside funds for essential moving costs, stamp duty, conveyancing, searches and survey fees as well as your deposit. Once you have seen your mortgage advisor (if mortgage required) and allocated your deposit you will be able to set a budget and start looking for a property. If you are considering looking for a property that needs renovation you will need to budget for immediate improvements as well as costs listed above.

Register your details

Online search portals such as and have made the process of finding a property easier than ever. Please visit our homepage to set up email alerts and register your details and browse our available properties section of the website. We recommend visiting the office, meeting our team and discussing available properties if possible. Let us know your budget, preferred location, number of bedrooms you require and any other information which will assist us in sourcing your perfect property.

Arrange viewings

Be prompt, the early bird catches the worm! The market moves very quickly so if you see a property on the market that you would like to view please give us a call to arrange at your earliest convenience. Although we always look to be flexible to your schedule we tend to get booked up in advance especially at weekends. If a property is proving particularly popular you may be allocated a time slot within a ‘block viewing’, this is where numerous viewings will be taking place on the same day. Please do not be put off by this, take your time and ask any questions you have. If we cannot answer immediately we will speak to the vendor and come back to you with answers as soon as possible.

Make an offer

Once you have seen a property you would like to buy the next step is to put forward an offer via Guardian Residential Sales. Think about the figure you would like us to put forward taking into account your budget, any work you wish to do to the property and competition from other buyers. In years gone by, it has been a common understanding that offers should be below the asking price. In more recent times in is common practice that many properties sell for over the asking price when there has been interest from many potential buyers.

Mortgage application/ choose a survey

Once your offer has been accepted you need to return to your financial advisor/ bank/ building society to arrange your formal mortgage application. For this process please bear in mind you will need various original, valid identification documents plus proof of income. You will be required to select a survey. Your mortgage lender will insist on a mortgage valuation as a minimum although you may wish to select a more detailed survey for your own piece of mind. A home buyers report includes a detailed description, often accompanied by photographs and will inform the buyer of any defect which needs immediate attention. In addition, highlighting general issues of wear and tear in keeping with the age of the building. A structural survey would be recommended if you are purchasing a period property or a non-standard construction property where a detailed assessment is made of the buildings condition.

The conveyancing process

Your solicitor will examine the draft contract and supporting documents and raise enquiries with the seller’s solicitor. You will be expected to go through the forms the seller has completed and let the solicitor know if you have any queries or concerns. Before signing the contract your solicitor will need to ensure that all enquiries have been returned and are satisfactory and the fixtures and fittings included within the purchase are what you expect.

Your solicitor will need to apply for searches. Searches are an important aspect of insuring that all of the details relating to the property and surrounding land are revealed and made clear. Some searches will be required by the mortgage lender.

Local authority searches: checking for any recent planning applications and local information affecting your purchase, Harlow Council can typically take up to 6 weeks.

Checking the ‘title register’ and ‘title plan’ at the Land Registry – these are the legal documents proving the seller’s ownership.

Environmental searches - these will contain much more thorough flood information and maps. They will give information about contaminated land at or around the property, landfill sites, former and current industry, detailed flooding predictions, radon gas hazard, ground stability issues, and some other related information

Drainage searches – find out how you get your water and if any public drains on the property might affect extensions or building works

Exchange of contracts

The exchange of contracts is the legally binding part of the home buying process. This is where you hand over your deposit (usually minimum 10% of the purchase price) and both solicitors exchange contracts of sale once all legal matters are satisfied. You will be responsible for arranging buildings Insurance for your new home at this time. A date for completion will be set and both parties are legally bound to complete the transaction on that day.

Moving day

Congratulations! This is the day when you complete and the remainder of the mortgage funds are transferred from your solicitor to the vendor’s solicitor and you can collect the keys for your new property.