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Essential Buyers’ Guide! Buying a home is a pretty tricky thing to do at the best of times, but when we are in the middle of one of the worst recessions, half the number of properties are changing hands than pre the credit crunch and finance is tough to source, buyers need every bit of help they can get their hands on! At Designs on Property we offer all the help we can to buyers, whether you are buying for the first time, trying to sell and buy at the same time, finding the ideal home to retire to or buying a property to make money, we can help you. Working alongside Homebuyer Agents ( Designs on Property helps you prepare for your move, working out if buying now is right for you and if it is, helping you choose the right area and property type for you and your family. We do this by offering easy to follow Dos and Don’ts, Factsheets, Handy Tips, Checklists and Essential Forms. We even help you on a one to one basis by answering your specific queries about buying (or selling) a home and as we are independent, you can be sure that the help we give is right for you. This help is brought to you by genuine experts in the industry. Designs on Property Ltd is headed up by Kate Faulkner, author of six property books, including the latest Which? Essential Guide - Buy, Sell and Move House. Kate has bought and sold many properties both personally and professionally and works with lots of people who are buying and selling a new home, a wreck and even a plot of land! To help celebrate ‘National Homebuyers’ Week’ we have produced this FREE guide for you which includes mini versions of our dos and don’ts, checklists, handy tips and essential information for the purchase of your new home. For more help, please visit, email your question to or call us on 0845 838 1763. At Designs on Property we produce specialist packs to help you carry out your property projects. These packs include the relevant Which? Essential Guide, full checklists, factsheets and essential forms as well as three months of one to one support by email or phone. To order your own guide, visit

The Legal Bit!  This Essential Buyers’ Guide takes you through the key stages to purchasing a property. Whilst this Guide is as  helpful as it can be, we cannot provide legal or financial advice and the information contained in this Guide is given  in good faith.  Customers are strongly advised to obtain their own independent legal and financial advice.  As such,  we cannot accept any liability for any loss or damage resulting from the use of this Guide. 

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Essential Buyers’ Checklist! Did you know there are 75 things you need to do to buy a home successfully? None of these things are difficult to do, you just to know what to do and when and to help, here’s our essential checklist for you to follow. Alternatively if you want the full list, then visit to purchase your full property pack. Done Carry out Mortgage Research and find out how much you can borrow. For Mortgage help and ‘best buys’, visit Write a list of your property ‘needs’ as well as a ‘wish’ list (you are likely to have to compromise on something!) Research the market to find areas and property types you can afford/you like Work out how much it will cost you to move on top of the amount of deposit you require Carry out viewings, checking out the local area and work out how much you would like to live there Visit properties several times, note what works are required Work out what to offer on a property you like Research and organise your legal company and check their quotes include all the costs! Visit Make an offer via the estate agent, ideally in writing via email or a letter If your offer is rejected, take a few days to think about offering more, look at other properties in the meantime Once your offer is accepted, make sure this is followed up with a letter from the agent Organise your own survey over and above the mortgage valuation. Visit, Finalise your Mortgage Offer and Insurance so your buildings insurance is in place by exchange, visit Chase the agent and legal company on a weekly basis to find out how your purchase is progressing Make sure you file any paperwork carefully – you might need it if things go wrong and will need it if you sell again Organise your removals/packaging subject to exchange, visit Exchange Contracts via your legal company, visit Organise Change of Address and your utilities such as gas, electrics and telecommunications, visit Complete your purchase and move in! Pay any Stamp Duty (if required) and check the SDLT forms have been filed. For a full list of what to do to buy and sell a home and bespoke help, contact us at Designs on Property Web: Email: Tel: 0845 838 1763

Buy a Designs on Property Project Pack for under £30! We know that buying a home should be an exciting time. But make a few mistakes and you could miss out on the home you want, or buy something overpriced or unsuitable. To help you avoid these mistakes, the experts at Designs on Property have developed a pack which has helpful worksheets, mini-projects and checklists for you to complete. When you purchase a pack it includes three month’s email and telephone support to answer your property purchasing queries via Kate and her team at Designs on Property. Find out how we can help you buy, sell, renovate or invest in a home: or buy the right pack for you at:

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What you need to know about Mortgages! There have been many news headlines about mortgages since the credit crunch and it is really difficult to work out who to talk to and what steps to take to find the right mortgage. To make things more complicated, even when a mortgage deal becomes available, it might be withdrawn in a matter of days. It is vital to check with one or more mortgage experts prior to looking for your dream home, otherwise you could find the perfect home, but then find it impossible to secure the finance to pay for it! Financing a home is a complicated process and you must get it right or you could end up paying substantially more in monthly mortgage payments or fees than you should. To help give you the best information we can in this mini guide, we’ve teamed up with Andrew Montlake and his team at Coreco. Coreco’s Guide to Securing a Mortgage Securing the right mortgage involves completing a number of different stages, many of which you have to be well prepared for! Stage One: Get your documentation in order Preparing for a mortgage starts early so make sure your documentation is in order. Lenders like to see your last three years address history (no gaps), your last three months payslips and last P60 or three years accounts, your last three months bank statements and full details of any loans or credit cards you have. Providing this information on day one can speed up the process no end. Stage Two: Are you creditworthy? Post credit crunch, all lenders want to make sure they are lending money to someone who is highly likely to pay it back. You can obtain a copy of your credit report on-line, some companies will offer a free check or a free trial of their services. Simple things like paying all your credit cards on time and making sure you are on the voters roll at your current address will help. Stage Three: Choose who to work with Research the different ways of finding a mortgage yourself by visiting your bank or building society or visiting on-line comparison websites. However, if you want impartial advice you should speak to an Independent Mortgage Broker. One of our advisers would be happy to assist you. Stage Four: Secure an Agreement in Principle To make sure you have the best chance of securing the home you make an offer on we suggest that you obtain an ‘agreement in principle’ for the mortgage amount you require beforehand. We can help secure this for you. Stage Five: Keep checking the mortgages available Unfortunately since the financial crisis, many lenders are introducing mortgage products which are snapped up within a matter of days. This can be very frustrating and rather than you having to check every day if the mortgage you want is still available, why not let us do this for you? Stage Six: Finalise your mortgage Once you have found a property ensure you check with your adviser that your mortgage deal is still OK (before you make an offer). Then once you have made the offer and it’s been accepted:1. Give the property address details to your mortgage adviser. 2. Advise your legal company of the mortgage company you are going to work with. 3. Give the contact details of your mortgage adviser to your legal company, and give both parties written permission to liaise which each other.

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Stage Seven: Mortgage offer Your lender will need to carry out their own valuation on the property (which you pay for!) and then once they’ve checked your finances in full, they will confirm whether the mortgage application has been accepted or declined. If your application has been accepted the lender will issue the formal mortgage offer. MAB 2913

The Coreco Group is a leading, London-based provider of independent mortgage advice. We specialise in all types of mortgages and are experts in First Time Buyer loans, complex specialist facilities and Large Mortgage Loans. As genuinely independent mortgage professionals, providing a highly personal service, Coreco are here to help you to own and protect your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. A fee of up to 1% of the mortgage amount may be charged depending on individual circumstances. A typical fee is £495.

Essential Buyers’ Research Once you know how much money you have to spend, it is easy to ‘jump in’ and start to look at properties straightaway. First things first though! Although you know how much money you can borrow, have you budgeted for all the costs involved in buying a home?

Buying a Property Budget Although you might have worked out how much you can afford to offer on a property from a lender’s perspective, it is essential to make sure you have enough cash to pay for things like the deposit, conveyancing fees, a survey, moving and potentially the dreaded stamp duty charges! To help you know how much it is going to cost you, visit our on-line buying and selling calculator Buying a Home Fees If you are buying a property for less than £125,000, then there are no stamp duty fees to pay. If you are a First Time Buyer, until 24th March 2012 as long as your property costs less than £250,000 you will not have to pay any stamp duty either. For all other buyers and for purchases over £250,000 here are the latest stamp duty fees:£125,001 to £250,000: £250,001 to £500,000: £500,001 to £1 million £1 million +

1% of the purchase price 3% “ “ 4% “ “ 5% “ “

Legal fees can vary from a few hundred pounds to over a £1,000 depending on whether you are buying a leasehold or freehold property and the value of your home. For a good guideline price and a list of all the legal costs, visit as they have their own calculator.

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Surveying fees range from around £200 for a Home Condition Report, £400 for a Homebuyer Report and £1,000 or more for a full building survey. Removals costs can vary greatly depending on whether you are moving items yourself or if you want a well trained team of experts to move your items from A to B for you. From a budgeting perspective, it’s wise to put aside a few hundred pounds for a small move which involves hiring a van through to around £1,200 for a four bedroom property which should also pay for all your belongings to be professionally packed. Don’t forget to use our on-line buying and selling calculator to get a better idea of the cost of your move: Visit:

What type of property do you want? After you are sure you know how much you can afford to pay for a property, the final step before you start searching is thinking about the type of property that would suit you and your family and then find out whether those properties exist and where you can find them. Typically older properties such as Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian properties are closer to town or village centres, then 1930s properties, followed by 1950s, 60s, 70s. Since the 1980s, properties are either built on ‘new estates’ as ‘infill’, such as city centre apartments, or on the edge of existing towns and cities. Different property types will have different sized rooms. Typically 1930s properties have larger room sizes and gardens than many other property types. Older properties such as Georgian ones might not have any room to park a car as they weren’t invented when they were built!

Wreck or Ready? With all the fab TV programmes showing you how ‘easy’ (or not!) it is to renovate a home, some people are determined to buy a property that they can do up, others would prefer a property that is completely finished and they can just move into. If you are looking to buy a property that requires work, make sure you know what you are doing – or you buy in the help you need. Some renovation work such as gas, electrics and glazing, are required by law to be carried out by qualified experts. If you want to buy a ready to move in home, such as a new build, don’t forget you need to find out what’s included in the purchase price and don’t just buy the property without any independent checks. Secure a snagging checklist by a specialist that knows what to look for, such as whether the electrical sockets are straight, the paintwork is of a high quality and the fence they promised to erect is actually there when you move in!

Other Costs Different properties are built in different ways. For example properties built prior to the 1930s don’t necessarily have any foundations. This isn’t necessarily an issue unless you decide to move in and make alterations to the property which starts to cause subsidence. Most properties are sold on a ‘freehold’ basis, in other words, you own the property and the land it sits on. Some, such as flats, are sold on a ‘leasehold’ basis which means you will incur on-going charges called ‘service charges’ and ‘ground rents’. These charges might be quite small, a few hundred pounds a year or thousands of pounds a year.

Property Specification Most buyers have a good idea of what they want from a property. It might be three bedrooms, a kitchen/diner, a garden and garage. When buyers are searching for property, there is always some form of compromise to make during the search process which often means people change the property specification that they want from the original specification. To help make sure you see all the properties that might suit your needs, make sure you give as wide – and detailed - spec as possible to the agent. For example, do you need three bedrooms or could you live with two double bedrooms? Do you need a garage or would a parking space suffice? If you need a garden for your dog, then let the agent know so that they don’t show you a shared garden. Copyright of Designs on Property Ltd 2011-13 Page 5 of 9

Essential Buyers’ Viewing Checklist External Viewing Front entrance/garden – is it tidy? Any work required? Roof and chimney Are the drains/guttering Are the windows double glazed? Is the garage big enough for your car? How secure is the property?


New? New?


Old? Old?

Internal Viewing – For EACH Room Is there any decoration required? Does the room catch the sun? Is the room overlooked? Does the room need new flooring?

Other Questions Is there loft access? Are they working chimneys? Where is the boiler? Are there any fire precautions? Fire doors? Smoke alarms? Are there any cracks big enough to put a 10p in? When was the property last damp proofed? Has any work been done on the property? If yes, what guarantees are there on the property?


Flats Is it leasehold or freehold? What’s the length of the lease? What access is there to the garden? What services are shared eg drainage? Who pays for roof repairs? What’s the cost of:Buildings insurance? Freehold/ground rent? Service charges?

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The Legal Steps to Buying a Home Finding a good legal company is one of the most essential services. Good legal companies make the difference between a smooth move and a horrible one, so it is worth choosing one carefully! To help you find a good legal company, we’ve teamed up with 1st Property Lawyers ( who offer ‘no sale, no fee’ and ‘fixed fee’ conveyancing to help write our key legal steps to buying a home below. Lots of legal companies don’t always give you all of the fees they are likely to charge you during your purchase, so when you are comparing costs, make sure you use 1st Property Lawyers ( on-line calculator. Step One: Proof of Identity As a result of legal changes to prevent fraud and money laundering, no-one can buy or sell a home unless they have given original or authorised proof of identity to a legal company. We suggest that you send a passport, birth certificate and marriage certificate and a recent utility bill. Step Two: Making an Offer Make sure that you instruct a legal company prior to making an offer as the estate agent will ask for our details as soon as your offer is accepted. Step Three: Buyer's Questions We want you to ask us as many questions as you wish! Ideally send them in writing to us via email or post. Step Four: Fixtures and Fittings and Property Information Forms Most buyers don’t realise there are huge amounts of paperwork that we need to produce and send to you for checking. When we send these forms to you, make sure you read them carefully and tell us quickly if there is anything missing from the forms that you thought was included in the property’s price. Step Five: Searches As soon as you contact us and we’ve received your proof of identity, we’ll start progressing your purchase. Our first job is to carry out ‘searches’ which check the local area for things like flooding or new planning applications which may affect your purchase. Step Six: Purchase Contract Once the seller has finalised and sent the contract to us, we’ll check it and send it to you, highlighting things we think you should be aware of. Once you sign the contracts we send, we should be ready to exchange. Step Seven: Organise a Deposit When you are reading and checking the contract and paperwork we send you, you need to make sure your deposit is in our bank account so that we can exchange so you know your purchase is about to go through! Step Eight: Exchange of Contracts You can now celebrate the fact that your purchase is nearly done and start getting ready to move. Step Nine: Complete Contracts Finally, the moving day arrives! The full monies are sent to the vendor's legal company, then their legal company will call the vendor/estate agent to let them know that you can have access to the keys. Step Ten: Send off Land Tax Form (Stamp Duty) We will do this for you as it’s included in our fixed fee price. 1st Property Lawyers operate on a fixed fee and ‘no move – no legal fee’ policy. They have combined traditional personal service with a 21st Century approach including extended opening hours, text and email updates and advanced 24/7 online case tracking allowing you to complete key documentation online, saving delays waiting for paperwork. Visit or call 0333 321 2345. Copyright of Designs on Property Ltd 2011-13 Page 7 of 9

Surveying Your Property Not having an independent survey on a property before purchase may save you money in the short term but may just as easily be ‘a disaster waiting to happen’. There may be many problems of which you are not aware, such as subsidence, damp in the walls or floors, or a leaking roof. Having a survey may prevent your dream home from becoming the ‘house from hell’.

Mortgage Valuation What you may refer to as the mortgage survey is in fact a Mortgage Valuation and is always carried out – at your cost - by the lender. They used to cost about £100 but now lenders frequently charge from £250 to £600 or even more but however much you pay, bear in mind the Mortgage Valuation is for the lender, NOT you! If things go wrong, such as a problem with the roof, or damp, you are still liable for the costs.

Differences between a Mortgage Valuation and an Independent Survey Mortgage Valuation Only takes a few minutes to an hour Report is a few pages long Report is owned by the lender You have no come back if there are mistakes

Independent Survey Takes a minimum of two hours to a full day Reports are typically around forty pages You own the full report You will have some recourse for mistakes

Which Survey to Choose? There are various types of independent survey that you can have done on a property. Which one you choose depends on the age, property type and condition of the property. New Build Snagging Survey Many buyers mistakenly believe that a new build property is perfectly built and finished to a high standard! In fact the average new build has over 80 defects! Whether the property is a flat or a house it is wise to have a specialist snagging survey which can also include follow up with the developer to get them fixed. Home Condition Report This is a basic report about the property’s condition and highlights what guarantees for planning or building works the property has. It gives an idea of what things need fixing in the property now and in the future, but does not include an independent valuation. Home Buyer’s Survey This is a comprehensive report for properties which were built post-1930s, and are of 'standard construction' (for example brick or concrete), including new build and second hand homes (ie a previous owner) and properties which do not appear to have any major problems from a structural perspective. The Home Buyer’s Survey looks at the condition of the property, gives you, the buyer, an independent valuation of what the property is worth and advice about what work might be required. Building Survey This is for properties which were built prior to the 1930s (in other words before more stringent Building Regulations were brought in), properties which are not of standard construction such as local stone, all or part-timber, a self-build or an architecturally unique property. The survey covers in depth the condition of the property and advises on work to be done to the property as well as, in some cases, the cost of the works, but does not include a valuation. For further information visit Which? and The Council of Mortgage Lenders advise you to get a survey carried out before you buy and not just to rely on a valuation. A valuation is not a survey. Using the services of an RICS surveyor means you get clear, impartial and expert advice as they act in your interest! RICS surveyors follow strict rules of conduct so they can protect you should something go wrong. Look out for firms that are ‘Regulated by the RICS’ – visit or call 0870 333 1600 Copyright of Designs on Property Ltd 2011-13 Page 8 of 9

How to Move Your Belongings from A to B! It’s easy when things are happening fast to not spend enough time on moving your belongings. By the time it gets around to moving, you will probably so exhausted and stressed from the buying process, that you will make the classic three mistakes that most people make when moving their belongings. These are: believing packing everything yourself protects your belongings more; thinking you only have a ‘few things’ and hiring a van will do and, you can pack and move all your belongings in one day without any help!

What’s the best way to move for you? Part of your decision will be based on your budget and we understand that it might not stretch to the ideal service, but our guidance below should help you decide what you do need and what the best service is that you can afford. The first question to ask is: do you need a removals company or could you hire a van? Property Size Studio/One Bedroom Flats Ground/First Floor Second Floor and Above One/Two Bedroom Houses Heavy or Large Furniture/ Items Three/Four/Five/Six Bedroom Houses

Option 1 Move Yourself Yes No No Yes No No

Option 2 Man With a Van Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Option 3 Removal Service Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Moving Top Tips! Top Tip One: Declutter! In this day and age, we seem to accumulate more and more ‘stuff’! A good exercise prior to moving is to go through all your belongings and recycle, give to charity or throw away anything you do not need. Top Tip Two: Give yourself enough time Rushing to pack items is a nightmare, so make sure you do it over time or better still, get your removal company to price packing for you! Start at least four weeks before your move, just in case anything unexpected happens which cuts down time. Don’t forget the loft, garage and any outbuildings. Top Tip Three: Mark what’s in each box Whether you are packing or someone is packing for you, make it clear on each box where the box is going to in the new home and what is in it. Priority boxes that have essential items such as cutlery or a kettle should be marked as ‘open this one first’, or have a colour sticker on it so you know what to work on first. Top Tip Four: Use the right packing materials Gone are the days when you have to hang around a supermarket to find boxes to pack your items! From £50-£100 you can purchase essential materials such as bubble wrap, good boxes and special boxes such as ones for clothes that will make packing and moving your items much easier. Start at least four weeks before your pending move, just in case anything unexpected happens which cuts down the available time. Top Tip Five: Take advantage of secure storage Just in case you sell your home and you can’t quite match moving dates to your new home, secure self storage with 24/7 access can really take the pressure off. Just make sure all rooms are individually alarmed, the facility is monitored outside of reception hours and large trolleys are provided. Sold your home and the moving dates haven’t quite matched up? Or are you de–cluttering to show your home in the best possible light to potential buyers? Either way, Big Yellow can help your move go as smoothly as possible with secure rooms from 10 sq ft to 500 sq ft that you can take for as little as seven days or as long as required. Visit or call 0800 783 4949. Copyright of Designs on Property Ltd 2011-13 Page 9 of 9

Essential Homebuyers Guide  

Homebuyer Centre and Designs on Property's Essential Homebuyers Guide.