Finding your dream house is just the first of many steps in the home-buying process.
In Scotland, it usually takes six to eight weeks between making an offer and being handed the keys to your new pad. In England, around 12 weeks is more common, according to Propertymark analysis.
Buying a home could take even longer if issues crop up along the way. Currently, some lenders are taking 20 days just to look at the paperwork. The challenge of processing applications during the coronavirus pandemic has been compounded by a huge influx of buyers wanting to take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday.
Although some parts of the home-buying process are out of your hands, there are things you can do to minimise delays. If you’re working to a tight deadline, or simply want to move in as quickly as possible, here are six top tips to help things run smoothly.
1. Get an agreement-in-principle
An agreement-in-principle is a written statement from a mortgage lender showing how much money ‘in principle’ they would be able to lend you.
It helps to speed up the home-buying process by giving you a rough idea of which properties you can afford. It also helps you prove to estate agents and vendors that you’re serious about the purchase.
To get an agreement-in-principle, you’ll usually need to provide information about your income and expenditure. The lender will also run a credit check.
The main thing to bear in mind is that an agreement-in-principle isn’t the same as a mortgage offer. It doesn’t guarantee that your application will be accepted or how much you’ll actually be able to borrow.
2. Gather all your financial documentation
Once you begin your mortgage application, you’ll need to supply evidence of your income and expenses. The information required could be extensive, so it’s a good idea to gather all your financial documentation early on.
Some of the documents the lender might ask for include:
- Payslips from the past three months and a P60 from your employer
- Bank statements from the last three to six months
- Utility bills and Council Tax bill
- Passport and/or driving licence
- If you’re self-employed, two or three years of accounts, tax calculations and tax year overviews.
Some lenders might ask for more paperwork, so it’s worth finding out in advance what else you might need. Edinburgh Mortgage Advice has launched a new e-ID service which can remove lots of the paperwork and time required. By taking a quick selfie and logging into your internet banking, you can instantly pass through the lender’s identification checks.
3. Use a mortgage broker
Using a mortgage broker can help to speed up the mortgage application stage.
A mortgage broker will give you an accurate picture of how much you’ll be able to borrow and provide advice on which lenders to approach. They’ll search the market for the right deal, so you don’t have to trawl through pages of mortgage deals.
They’ll also make sure you don’t make mistakes on your application and that you supply all the required documentation.
4. Book your property survey early
Although your mortgage lender will carry out a property valuation, it’s important to book your own survey to gain more detailed information about your future home.
Surveyors are often extremely busy, so it’s worth booking your survey early to minimise delays. This will also give you time to investigate any problems the survey may uncover, such as damp or structural issues.
5. Instruct a good solicitor
Instructing a good solicitor will increase the chances of your house purchase progressing quickly and smoothly. Try to find a solicitor who responds to queries promptly and who reacts quickly when issues crop up.
Your estate agent might recommend a solicitor, but it’s usually better to do your own, independent research. Online reviews and recommendations from friends and family are a good place to start.
Once you’ve chosen a solicitor, make sure you stay in regular contact throughout the process.
6. Complete seller forms quickly
If you’ve got a house to sell, completing the property information form and fittings and contents form quickly is a simple way of minimising delays.
Try to get all your paperwork together as soon as possible. If your property is leasehold, you’ll need to supply a copy of the lease. If it’s a freehold, you’ll need documentation relating to the freehold.
You might also be asked for FENSA certificates for replacement windows, your home’s Energy Performance Certificate, information relating to building restrictions, and your boiler’s gas safety certificate.
Get in touch
If you’re thinking of buying your first home or moving to a new property, we’ll ensure your mortgage application is as smooth and stress-free as possible. To find out more, please email [email protected] or call 0131 339 2281.
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage or other loans secured on it.