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Buying Guide

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The guide to buying property

This is a comprehensive guide.

Feel free to print it for ease of reference.

Question & Answers opening the door on:

bulletThe typical steps involved
bulletDealing with estate agents and solicitors
bulletWhat you need to consider

Also lots of useful tips and a Buyer' s check-list

Your questions answered:

  1. What service can I expect from an estate agent
  2. What costs do I need to consider?
  3. I' m a first time buyer, what' s the process involved?
  4. What survey will I need
  5. How should I choose a solicitor?
  6. What do I need to arrange at exchange of contracts?
  7. Where can I get more advice and information?

Buyer' s check-list

About this guide


To buy with centralparkestates.co.uk see buying

Good luck with buying!

1.    What service can I expect from an estate agent?

The estate agent is paid by the Vendor, so they act for them not the purchaser. He is not obliged to highlight negative aspects of the property to you. The agent will show you suitable property and put any offers to their vendor clients.

2.    What costs do I need to consider?

There are a number of costs to be taken into account when buying property. Typically these are: -

bulletSolicitor's fees (including stamp duty, local authority searches, etc)
bulletPart payments on council tax, ground rents, service charges
bulletAbout 10% deposit
bulletProperty insurance and house contents insurance
bulletMortgage (indemnity premium and arrangement fees - usually can be added to mortgage)
bulletSurveyor's fees
bulletRemoval firm
bulletServices (any utilities that need to be reconnected, mail redirection)

3.    I'm a first time buyer, what's the process involved?

Roughly these are the steps involved in buying property:-

  1. You find a property
  2. You get a mortgage and appoint a solicitor
  3. The mortgage company will carry out their valuation on the property
  4. You instruct a surveyor to do a home buyers report or full survey
  5. The Vendors Solicitor supplies draft contract, title deeds on the property to your Solicitor
  6. Your solicitor arranges for local search and raises any queries with the Vendor's solicitor.
  7. Once your solicitor is satisfied you can proceed to signing contracts and agreeing a completion date.
  8. You provide the Vendor with the deposit
  9. Signed contracts are sent to you from Vendor
  10. Contracts are exchanged and you arrange insurance for the property
  11. Completion takes place on agreed date
  12. Your solicitor pays remainder of purchase price to Vendor's solicitor
  13. Vendors solicitor confirms that sale is complete and arranges for keys to be handed over.
  14. You move in!



Keep registering with estate agents. Sometimes agents don't get back to you or send details. It can seem like they're not interested and you wonder if they want to sell houses! This is a misleading perception - they're just busy and someone else might have beat you to the post. Estate agents are not obliged to call you when your ideal property comes in. So it pays to call and visit regularly.


Appoint a solicitor before you find a property. This will avoid delay once you've found a property and want to proceed to survey. It also shows the purchaser/estate agent you're serious about buying.


Find out the history of property you're interested in. E.G. How long it has been on the market, if any offers have fallen through etc. This'll highlight any possible problems - for example did the purchaser find a problem at survey stage.


Offers should always be subject to survey. Make an initial offer of around 10% less than the purchase price and be prepared to go upwards. You may meet somewhere in the middle. However, in a market where demand is high properties usually achieve their asking price and you run the risk of loosing it.


Establish solicitor's costs up front. Legal costs can mount up so establish what it could cost best and worst case. That way you can budget.

4.    What survey will I need?

If you wish to appoint a Surveyor to prepare a report on the condition of the property then this should be done when your offer has been agreed. Normally, three types of Report are available, depending on the extent of information you require. You should ask your solicitor which type of survey is appropriate for the property you're buying.

Mortgage Valuation Report - This one is carried out by the mortgage company to determine that they are prepared to lend you money to buy the property. Often their valuation can be up to 15% lower than the asking price - this is because they are always more cautious. It does not mean that the property will not sell for the asking price. It's not advisable to rely on a mortgage valuation - the mortgage company has no legal obligation to you. So you should arrange either a Home Buyers or Full Structural Survey.

Home Buyer's Report - This is the survey which most people arrange. This was made available by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in the 1980's to bridge the gap between the basic Mortgage Valuation Report and Full Structural Survey.

Full Structural or Building Survey Report - This survey can be a very detailed report depending on what agreed with the surveyor. It goes a few steps further than the Home Buyers report and is often recommended for property that is particularly old.

5.    How should I choose a solicitor?

It is important to appoint a Solicitor who will deal with the sale of your property promptly. The cheapest might not be the one who looks after your interest best. It is essential the Solicitor is geared to handling residential sales, can be readily contacted and can deal with your work speedily. In our experience, it is in your interest to appoint a Solicitor who is fairly local.

What's involved in the Solicitor's role?

You may want to get your solicitor involved as soon as you make an offer (which should be made subject to survey). Your solicitor can then advise what steps to take if there are any problems with the survey.

When the buying processes starts and the Vendor's Solicitor has obtained the property title deeds etc from the Vendor's Building Society or Bank, they will prepare the contract of sale. Your Solicitor will then examine the papers and raise any queries based on the title deeds, and related matters about the property.

When your Solicitor is in receipt of all replies to enquiries, a satisfactory local search, a copy of a mortgage offer, a signed contract and a deposit cheque, they can then proceed to exchange of contracts.

The deposit cheque is normally for a sum of 10% of the purchase value of the property. You therefore need this sum in order for you to progress to exchange. Exchange means the transaction is legally binding.

Completion is normally 28 days from the date of exchange. On completion your Solicitor hands over the remainder of the purchase money to the Vendor's Solicitor.

At completion, not before that exact time, you can move into your new home. Keys will be handed over by the Vendor or estate agent.

6.    What do I need to arrange at exchange of contracts?

Arrange removals - The British Association of Removers (est. over 100 years) can give you a list of removal firms in your area. BAR vet and inspect these firms and can therefore testify to their reliability. As services offered and prices differ between BAR members, BAR recommend that you contact 3 of their members to match the one most appropriate to your needs. BAR can be contacted on telephone 020 8861 3331.

Obviously, also see if a friend or neighbour can recommend a removal firm. Get more than one quotation and don't base your decision on price alone.

Arrange insurance - Buildings and Contents - You will need to arrange insurance for your property usually when contracts have been exchanged. Your solicitor will be able to advise.

Services, Maintenance Contracts and Council Tax - It is important, in order to avoid unnecessary costs/avoid disconnection, that you notify the service authorities (gas, water, telephone, electricity) of the date that you will be moving from your property. Also you'll need to notify the service authorities in the area you are moving to of your move in date.

We have a comprehensive useful check-list for you on the above and for other things (e.g. forwarding mail, security alarms, council tax, insurance, finances, licenses).

7.    Where can I get more advice and information?

Governing bodies/organisations serving their respective sectors should be able to help you with queries. They should also be able to give you a list of their member service providers. These member service providers commonly agree to adhere to professional standards laid down by the organisation and compliance is usually checked. This provides clients with assurance of professional service standards, protection and recourse where relevant. If you feel you have received an unsatisfactory service, these organisations should be able to advise you on complaint procedures.


British Association of Removers -
279 Grays Inn Road, London, WC2 8SY
Tel: 020 7837 3088

Estate agency

Selling bodies ~

The Estate Agents Ombudsman Scheme (OEA) - The OEA Scheme provides an independent service for dealing with disputes between agencies that subscribe as members and consumers who are actual or potential buyers/sellers of residential property in the UK. The Ombudsman is independent of the member agencies. He undertakes to offer a free, fair and speedy review of complaints falling within his terms of reference. Complaints will be considered by the Ombudsman where the consumer believes that the member agency has: treated them unfairly; been guilty of maladministration (incl. inefficiency or undue delay) that has caused losing money or suffering inconvenience; not conformed to the OEA Code of Practice; infringed their legal rights.

The OEA cannot act against an agent who is not a member of its Scheme. Further information is available from the Ombudsman for Estate Agents, Beckett House, 4 Bridge Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 2LX. Tel: 01722 333306 Fax: 01722 332296.

National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) - Members are individuals practising within their field - a company cannot be a member. Members are bound by the NAEA's rules of conduct, which have been drawn up to protect public interest and are backed by a formal disciplinary procedure. Members are competent in estate agency law, practice and ethics. The NAEA offers a mediation service. http://www.naea.co.uk/


The Law Society - The Law Society is the professional body for solicitors in England and Wales. The body sets standards that underpin the profession's reputation. Their publications 'The Solicitors Regional Directory' and 'Directory of Solicitors' gives details on solicitor firms. http://www.lawsoc.org.uk/


The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) - Members are bound by strict rules of conduct on matters such as client confidentiality and conflict of interest. Members advising clients must hold professional indemnity insurance and follow regulations governing the handling of client's money. Continual updating of skills is compulsory for practising members. http://www.rics.org/

Buyer's check-list to use at exchange of contract


There's a lot of things to organize when moving house. As well as arranging removals you'll need to sort out utilities and cancel milk/grocery deliveries etc. To help, centralparkestates.co.uk have compiled this check-list. You can print it and tick each item as it's done. This list is not exhaustive, it's meant to be a helpful guide.



Electricity -


Contact your supplier to give them your new address/old account details. You should do this at least 14 days before your moving date.


Get the meter read when you move

Gas -


Contact them to give them your new address details/old account details.


Ask them to read the meter the day you move.

Water -


Contact them to give you your new address details/old account details.


Get the meter read when you move


check whether you will receive a refund for any advanced payment or if the unused part of your account can be transferred to your new address. If you are moving out of the area a refund is more likely.


Will the water remain connected where you are moving? If not ensure you arrange reconnection at least 2 working days prior to moving in.

Telephone -

Contact your service provider to advise of your intentions at least 14 days before your move - you want to avoid unnecessary disconnection. Contact your service provider to discuss the following alternatives:-


Taking your telephone nr. with you (if you're moving within the exchange area)


Getting a new telephone number


Taking over the number of the property you're moving into (If so the vendor will need to advise the telephone provider that they are happy to hand over the line to you.)


Have you taken care of the following:-

Redirect mail/post

Subscriptions (publications)


Milk/grocery delivery

Security alarm company

Accountant/tax inspector (if your self employed working from home)




Pet registration (if tagged)




Bank & Building Society - send them your new address. If moving out of the area consider a transfer to the local branch.

HP/Direct Debits & Standing Orders - Send your new address details to any companies you have regular payments with for hire purchase, subscriptions etc. If you're changing bank accounts let them know.

Premium Bonds - Get the appropriate form from the Post Office. Post to Premium Savings Bonds, National Savings, Blackpool, FY3 9YP.

National Saving Certificates - Write quoting your holder's number to Durham, SH99 INS.

Stocks & Shares - Write to the address on the share certificate and dividend vouchers.

Pension/s - Inform your provider (or employer if you have a company pension) with relevant bank details.

Life Assurance/Other covers - Notify these providers of your new address.



Buildings & Contents- Contact your provider. Make sure that your new home is covered from the day you move in. You shouldn't cancel your own Buildings insurance until the day you move out. Your premium may change on the new property (if you're moving to a new area).

Motor insurance - Write to your provider before you move otherwise the insurance may be invalid. Again the premium may change.



Have you notified the following:-

Vehicle license DVLA. Fill in the relevant sections on your driving license and registration document and post to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BN

TV license. Notify change of address at the Post Office or write to Barton House, Bristol, BS99 1TL

Friends & Relatives. Send them we're moved cards with new address details.

Kids schools/colleges. Send notification of new address for their records.


About this guide

This Guide is intended to explain the typical steps involved in buying a property. The Guide is free to everyone, not just customers of centralparkestates.co.uk. After reading it, you should have enough knowledge to handle your purchase with confidence.

Good luck with buying.


This buying guide is provided by estate agent centralparkestates.co.uk. Readers should take any advice at their own risk. centralparkestates.co.uk accept no responsibility for any action taken, or loss occurring as a result of any advice/information in their guides. This guide does not cover the Scottish estate agency system.



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Last modified: November 23, 2002