Are you about to buy a property in London? Here are the answers to our most frequently asked questions on how to buy a new home.

Will you accompany the property viewings?

We will try to accompany you on all viewings and transport you to the properties allowing us to try to answer any questions you may have with the property or the area.

When should I arrange my mortgage?

Most mortgage lenders will be able to provide you with a Mortgage in Principle, commonly known as an MIP or an AIP. This provisionally lets you know how much you can borrow, subject to finding a suitable property in a specified time.

This can be arranged direct with a mortgage lender or via a financial adviser. Keatons can provide an in-house independent mortgage adviser if required. Please contact your local office for further information.

Establishing this proof of finance at an early stage in your property search can put you at a big advantage. Firstly, in terms of looking at properties via estate agents but more importantly, when it comes to making an offer, your position can be viewed by the agent and the seller with more purpose being you have an MIP.

Do bear in mind though, MIPs give absolutely no guarantees being they are subject to survey and your mortgage application will still need to pass the necessary credit and lender checks initially.

When I make an offer on a property what information do you require from me?

We will require: your position to proceed, I.e. first time buyer or if you are selling, and the full details of agent and related sale if applicable. You will be asked for proof of deposit if obtaining a mortgage and either a copy of your AIP or, if you have yet to arrange a mortgage, then to be qualified by one of our in-house financial advisors. Cash buyers will be asked for proof of funds, provided by your solicitor or bank.

Are you a member of any professional bodies?

We are members of the Property Ombudsman, NALS and Safeagent so you have the piece of mind to know you are dealing with an estate agent that is regulated.

When should I instruct my solicitor?

You will have to provide your solicitor’s details at the point you have an offer agreed. We can advise on a number of local companies that can assist you.

Will you keep the property on the market if my offer is accepted?

Generally the property will be taken off the market to show ‘good will’ and allow you time to organise a survey and instruct a solicitor. A time frame is normally agreed at the point an offer is accepted and then put in writing within the sales letters.

Should the vendor wish for the property to remain on the market you will be informed of this immediately.

What is the process with sealed bids?

A property goes to sealed bids when there is more than one person interested in buying it. We resort to this method in order to give all potential buyers a fair and equal chance to make their best offer. A date and time for the receipt of a sealed bid is set for all parties interested. You then send, in writing via email, your maximum bid, before the offers are then discussed with the vendor, with the winner often being the best in both price and ability to proceed.

How will my surveyor gain access to the property?

Please provide your surveyor with our contact details and we will make all the access arrangements for them and then confirm this to you.

What legal proceedings are involved?

Once a sale has been agreed you will need a conveyancing solicitor to handle the legal side. It is essential that you get someone you can trust who will work with you and your estate agent to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible. When the solicitor’s details for both parties have been received the sale is confirmed in writing and Keatons will keep you regularly updated on the progress of your sale.

How quickly can my purchase exchange contracts?

This depends on so many factors that there is no one time frame, but 4 -12 weeks is typical. We will discuss this extensively with you to try and match your timeframe with any prospective seller and get this confirmed at the point a sale is being agreed. Factors such as instructing your solicitor and mortgage provider at the earliest opportunity can make a big difference.

What is the difference between exchange and completion?

To enable an exchange of contracts you will have your mortgage offer or cash funds available and will have placed the deposit funds with your solicitor and all conveyancing completed. Exchange of contracts makes the deal legally binding and a completion date is then fixed. The completion date is the date you take possession of the property and the purchase monies are transferred to the other side.

What is Stamp Duty?

If you buy a property in the UK over a certain price, you have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). This is charged on all purchases of houses, flats and other land and buildings.

Stamp Duty Land Tax Calculator

Purchase price of property (£)New rates paid on the part of the property price within each band
£0 - £125,000 0%
£125,001 - £250,000 2%
£250,001 - £925,000 5%
£925,001 - £1.5 million 10%
Over £1.5 million 12%

What is the difference between share of freehold and leasehold?

Share of freehold is when a freeholder divides up his responsibility and the leaseholders become directors of the leasehold company. Leasehold is a method of owning a property for a fixed term but not the land on which it stands. Possession of the property will be subject to the payment of an annual ground rent. When the lease expires, ownership of the property reverts back to the freeholder.

If a lease is running low at what point should it be increased and what is the process?

If a lease is less than 80 years unexpired when you seek to extend it then as part of the price you have to pay what is known as a marriage value to the freeholder. The law is that you cannot compel a lease extension until you have owned the property for two years but that doesn’t stop the freeholder agreeing to give you one in the meantime. A solicitor is required to handle all the legal documentations for extending the lease. A valuer or chartered surveyor is then required to put a value on the lease extension; a fixed fee is normally charged to prepare this report.