First Time Buyers – who does what when buying a house?

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Understanding who does what is key to keeping stress to a minimum!

The conveyancing process is not something that is the exclusive domain of your solicitor!  When you find your first dream home you will also deal with the estate agent, a lender (for your mortgage), a surveyor, and yes, your solicitor!  But sat firmly at the centre of all of that is YOU!  Here, we take a look at who does what in the house buying/selling process.  And, with that knowledge, you can take on the purchase of your first new home with open eyes, and much less stress!

First time buyer – who does what when buying a house?

There are 5 important people/organisations involved in your first time buyer house purchase.  They are:-

  1. Estate agent – they deal with the marketing of the property
  2. Lender (mortgage company – and you may perhaps used a broker)
  3. Surveyor – to provide a survey (for you) and or valuation (for your lender)
  4. Solicitor – will deal with the legal process
  5. YOU – at the heart of it all

What does the Estate Agent do?

The estate agent markets the property.

Who employs the Estate Agent?

The seller employs the estate agent.

Who pays the Estate Agent?

The seller pays the estate agent when the property completes.  In fact, their solicitor will usually do this for them out of the sales proceeds.

How much do estate agents get paid for selling a house?

The estate agents still often charge a percentage fee.  Not that long ago percentage fees would be anything up to 2-3% of the sales price.  In the South East, it seems to be around 1% at the time of writing this article.  Newcomers to the market (estate agents) will now sometimes charge a fixed fee (as opposed to a percentage).    Either way – it is for the seller, not you as a first time buyer to pay the agent!

How do I make an offer on a property I have viewed?

You put the offer to the seller via the estate agent (NOT directly to the seller).

What happens if my offer is accepted?

If your offer is accepted the estate agent will confirm this with you, and then issue a Memorandum of Sale to you, the seller(s), and the solicitors acting for each of you.

What is a Memorandum of Sale?

A Memorandum of Sale is the written confirmation of a sale.  It is prepared by the estate agent and sent to:-

  • Buyer
  • Seller
  • Buyer’s solicitor
  • Seller’s solicitor

What does a Memorandum of Sale confirm?

It confirms sale price, buyer and seller details, and solicitor details.  It is the ‘starting pistol’ of the conveyancing process.

‘Knowledge is power’ getting you to your new home!

First time buyer – how do I choose my Solicitor?

Conveyancing can be a stressful process and choosing the right solicitor is a great way to keep that stress to a minimum.  At Qlaw we have an industry leading APP that allows you 24/7 access to your case file to see exactly what is going on, and even includes instant messaging so no emails needed with us – you have access straight through to the team!  Think carefully about what it is you want from your solicitor, and perhaps look to see if they have any review on sites such as TrustPilot?

What does my Solicitor do in the process?

Your solicitor deals with the legal stuff!  That includes:-

  • Contract pack
  • Searches
  • Enquiries
  • Exchange of contracts
  • Completion

You can read more about the key steps in conveyancing in our ‘8 Key Stages’ section.

What does a Surveyor do?

Your surveyor tells you the state of the bricks and mortar you are buying.  View our ‘Survey’ section for more information.

Who employs the Surveyor?

YOU employ the surveyor.  NB if you are taking a mortgage you will also need a mortgage valuation but beware this is NOT a survey.  A mortgage valuation is for the benefit of your lender, not you!

What is a Lender?

Your lender is the mortgage company you use to lend you the money to buy your home.

How do I get a Mortgage?

You should check your eligibility to get a mortgage before you start house hunting.  Mortgage eligibility is based on ‘affordability’ – ie what you can afford to repay each month.

Does my Solicitor get my mortgage for me?

NO!  You arrange your mortgage.  Your solicitor will be sent a copy of your mortgage offer however.  And, in readiness for completion they will be in touch with your lender to arrange for the mortgage money to be sent to them (and then forwarded to the sellers solicitor on the day of completion).

What is a Mortgage Broker and should I use one?

A mortgage broker is like a financial advisor that specialises in mortgages.  Be careful, some mortgage brokers only act for one lender and so will only ever recommend their employer’s mortgages!  These are called ‘tied’ advisors.  A truly independent broker will have access to the whole of the mortgage market and they can advise you on the product best for you and your personal financial situation.

Want to know more about who does what in selling houses?

If you’re a first time buyer and you still have queries about the conveyancing process, do check out the rest of our content – there’s loads to get your teeth into!  Or, do reach out.  Our team of expert conveyancing solicitors are here to help.

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