Buying Guide

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Buying a property is an exciting time...a place to call your own...it can also be very daunting. Arington have compiled the below guide which we hope you will find helpful. Over the years we have established excellent working relationships with many of the professionals you will require throughout the purchasing process. If you have any questions, pick up the phone and contact Arington or pop in to our offices for a coffee...we will be happy to discuss any questions you may have.

Calculate your budget

Before you start your property search, it is worth taking the time to calculate your budget. There will be additional costs to take into consideration including solicitors fees, surveyors fees, mortgage company fees (often added to the mortgage), removal company fees and possibly stamp duty. If you require a mortgage we advise speaking to our financial advisor. Once you know your budget register with Arington to receive property alerts.

Be prepared

You may find you are in competition with other buyers interested in the same property, so to be able to act swiftly and not lose out on the property of your dreams, it is sensible to ensure you are ready to proceed, by having a mortgage in principle and your solicitors selected (Arington can arrange for some solicitors quotes, contact Arington). It is worth making sure your deposit funds are easily and quickly accessible for when they are needed.

Start your search

Register with Arington and start viewing. Arington will accompany you on all viewings and have a wealth of local knowledge as well as leases, building construction and more. It is not always possible to see all the details you need to know from photos, so Arington recommend viewing all properties within your budget. When you find the right property you will be confident in your offer and the property. If the property is right, don’t waste time, put your offer forward and prove you are serious.

Making offers

Once you have found your dream home, make your offer and prove your position with your mortgage in principal, proof of deposit funds and your chosen solicitor’s contact details. The stronger your position the more likely your offer will be accepted, over competing offers. Once your offer is accepted solicitors will be instructed.


A mortgage valuation survey (the most basic survey) will be required if you are obtaining a mortgage, which the mortgage company will normally insist is carried out by one of their approved surveyors. You can usually upgrade the mortgage valuation survey to a home buyer’s or a full structural survey, or alternatively instruct your own independent surveyor.

A Mortgage valuation survey will simply provide a valuation of the property and insurance re build costs for the mortgage company. A home buyer’s survey will additionally offer guidance to legal advisors, highlight any urgent defects and offer advice on defects that may affect property value and ongoing maintenance. A full structural survey (the most comprehensive) performs an in depth analysis of the property condition and includes advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options.

Mortgage Offers

Once your mortgage valuation survey has been completed and reported back to your mortgage company, your mortgage company will issue the mortgage offer. A copy will be sent to your solicitor and financial advisor. The mortgage offer to the solicitor is giving the solicitor authority to proceed with the purchase as they will be lending you the specified sums, on the basis of the solicitor meeting certain requirements.


Whilst your survey and mortgage offer are being processed the solicitors will be working behind the scenes requesting searches and providing information to each other. Once the solicitors have satisfied themselves they have all the answers to their questions they will report to you.

Exchange of contracts

Once the mortgage offer has been received and the solicitors have confirmed they are ready to proceed, you will be requested to pay your deposit (normally a minimum of 10%), provide a signed contract along with your authority to exchange and a preferred completion date. Once a completion date has been agreed throughout the chain, exchange of contracts takes place. In summary, the purchaser has agreed to purchase and the seller has agreed to sell at the price and as per the terms of the contracts.

Completion date

Upon the completion date the seller is requested to provide all keys for their property to the agent by midday. The solicitors will transfer the completion funds through the chain starting at the bottom and working their way to the top, and once complete will provide authority to the agent to release keys to the new owner.

A nice takeaway and glass of wine is now the best option...sit back and relax before all that unpacking / re decorating / etc.

Collect keys

Arington will contact you as soon as we receive confirmation from the solicitor that the sale has completed, allowing us to release the keys...the property is now yours.

At all stages Arington will be by your side, overseeing progression and here to help when you need us...at any point.

For frequently asked questions about the buying process, please see below:

Buying Guide FAQs

Question: What is stamp duty?

Answer: Stamp duty known as Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is the amount of tax on a property or land purchase payable to the government upon the completion. The amount you pay depends upon the purchase price and your circumstances. Use our stamp duty calculator here to find out how much or if you will need to pay.

Question: How much stamp duty will I have to pay?

Answer: Use our stamp duty calculator to work out how much you will need to pay

Question: What does Sold STC mean?

Answer: STC is the abbreviation of Subject to Contract. Contracts are exchanged between solicitors at the point of exchange where the contracts become binding on the seller and purchaser.

Question: What should I do if my survey highlights defects in the property?

Answer: Don’t be alarmed, the survey is there to highlight defects. Properties age, break and generally deteriorate over time and you might find the seller is not even aware themselves, that there is an issue. The majority of defects highlighted in surveys are minor and can be put right for a reasonable cost. It would be fair to arrange for a couple of local tradesman to provide quotes, where once received you can either accept the cost as your responsibility once you have moved in or if the defect was not obvious upon your viewing(s), and therefore not taken into consideration when you made the offer, you could renegotiate with the seller.

Question: How long will the buying process take?

Answer: There are many factors that affect the length of time of a purchase, including but not limited to; if the property is Freehold or Leasehold, whether a mortgage is required, how many properties there are in the chain? Etc.

On average, for the simplest transaction; from the point of offer accepted, for a single property sale you can expect the process to take between 2 – 3 months. Should there be a number of properties in the chain it can take much longer, as they may not have all had their offers accepted at the same time, meaning although you may have completed the process and be ready to exchange, the property above you may only just be starting their process. Where properties are Leasehold the time can also be extended as packs and information has to be requested from the Freeholder.

Question: What does Freehold & Leasehold mean?

Answer: When you purchase a Freehold property you are buying the building and the land it is situated on, known as the plot, you are responsible for all aspects concerning the building and plot. When purchasing a Leasehold property is a bit more complicated, a Freeholder owns the land and the exterior of the building and is responsible for the maintenance of the exterior of the building and plot, meaning when you purchase a leasehold property you are purchasing a lease for right to use the interior of the specific property for a length of time (see below question on lease lengths).

Question: Why do lease lengths vary?

Answer: Lease lengths vary depending upon how they were set up by the Freeholder. They are typically set up for 99, 125 or 999 years. Lease lengths are important as when the lease starts getting down to around 70 years mortgage companies are less likely to lend.

Question: What are service charges?

Answer: Service charges are the amounts charged by the Freeholder for costs incurred for the upkeep, maintenance, insurance, etc of the exterior of the building, communal areas and grounds. The service charge will normally include an element known as a sink fund which will be built up over time to cover larger costs, i.e. a new roof.

Question: What is ground rent?

Answer: Ground rent is similar to if you were renting a property; the ground rent is the rent you pay as per the terms of the lease, for the period of the lease, i.e. 99, 125 or 999 years. The ground rent payable will be specified in the lease and is commonly around £250 per annum, but it can be higher or lower.

Question: What is a property chain?

Answer: A property chain is where there is more than 1 property in the chain. A chain will be multiple properties, meaning multiple buyers and sellers. For example, Buyer A might be a first time buyer, buying property P1 from Seller A, but Seller A might then be buying property P2 from Seller B, and so on...ideally chains are kept to a minimum number of properties.