First-time buyers

1. Have your deposit funds in order. If any part of the deposit is a gift, for example from parents or a relative, then it is important to disclose this to your solicitor and your lender.

None of the funds should be unaccounted for and you should do your homework and provide written evidence of sources if necessary to ensure a smooth transaction.

2. Have your buildings insurance policies in place from exchange of contracts rather than completion or your moving date.

Contracts will often provide for the insurance risks in a property to pass on exchange when buying.

3. Give careful consideration to the land around the property you are purchasing and be alert to the potential for development in the immediate area that could affect the home you’re purchasing. Buyers can speak to local authority planning officers to investigate areas of concern.

When buying a property, a solicitor will as a matter of course have to carry out a local authority search.

Moving up the chain

1. Be realistic about completion dates. Moving up the property ladder often involves a chain with different sales and purchasers all at different stages.

It will usually take four-six weeks to get to the exchange of contracts stage. Ensure that removals are not booked until contracts are formally exchanged and all parties are bound to a completion date.

2. Have a survey done. If you require a mortgage then a bank will carry out its own valuation report. This is for the bank to rely on and will be limited in its inspection.

Consider the nature and age of the property, where work has been carried out, whether you intend to carry out structural work and then consider a homebuyer’s survey or full structural report.

3. Visit the property and do not rely completely on the replies to the pre-contract enquiry forms produced by sellers who often may have limited personal knowledge of the property themselves, due to their living overseas or renting the property to tenants.

Go to for more information.