Buying a house can be daunting. The big sums of money involved is one thing, but the overwhelming amount of paperwork is often underestimated!
So, what are the documents required to buy a house?
From start to finish, mortgages to move-in day, we’ve got it all covered. Here’s a closer look.
Paperwork for your mortgage lender
If you want to be taken seriously as a buyer, it's a good idea to get started on applying for your mortgage, or at least have an agreement in principle. Do this before you start talking to estate agents.
To improve your chances of getting a mortgage, get the ball rolling and order a copy of your credit report. Make sure you clear up any issues as best as you can before approaching lenders.
Once you've done this, start collecting all the documents you will need. Every broker is different, but here are some of the most common things you’ll need:
- Utility bills - hard copies or copies certified by your solicitor, not online printouts
- Your latest P60 form
- Your last three months' payslips
- Passport or driving license (for proof of identity)
- Bank statements for the last three months or three years' certified accounts if self-employed
- Your SA302 form if you are self-employed (this can take a long time to get from the HMRC so plan ahead!)
Be accurate with your mortgage application. Make sure the information on the forms matches the documents you supply, if you want to avoid delays!
Showing your outgoings
Lenders are obliged to stress test you to see if you could afford repayments if circumstances changed. For example, if interest rates were to rise or you had children.
You will need to show your outgoings, including credit cards and other loans, as well as your household bills, including:
- Utility bills
- Council Tax
- Insurance policies
- General living costs such as travel, childcare and entertainment
This information all helps a lender to check whether they are happy to lend to you.
Documents when appointing a solicitor
You may also want to appoint your solicitor or conveyancer and get the initial paperwork out of the way. This means when you find a property, they can get on with the important stuff.
Solicitors must check you in a process called 'Know Your Client' or 'KYC'. Government regulations mean you have to prove who you are as a new client. For UK residents, proof of identity will generally be one of the following original documents:
- Full or provisional UK photo driving licence
- P60 or P45
- Police or other government ID card
- UK armed services ID card
Along with ID, you will need proof of address. Here are some common examples:
- Bank/building society statement
- Council tax bill
- UK driving licence
- Electoral register
- Inland revenue self-assessment statement or tax demand
- Recent utility bill
You can’t use the same document twice so choose something different on each list.
What you’ll need to make an offer
When making an offer on a house, you can submit to the estate agent either in person or over the phone. But submitting a written offer gives you a great opportunity to sell yourself to the owner. If there are other people interested, anything you can do to set yourself apart is good.
You may want to include some of the following points in your offer. Estate agents are obliged to pass on all offers by law, but reminding them never hurts:
- Details of your mortgage offer showing you can afford the price you're offering
- Let them know if you're chain-free - it's more likely the transaction will go through
- Offer them flexibility on a moving date
- Details of your conveyancer and surveyor (include their names to show they're already lined up)
- Finally, (though it may make not help) include emotional reasons that fit your situation. For example, if it's a much-loved family home, say you can see yourselves bringing your own family up there. It may help you stand out from the crowd
You can either write an offer letter or send it by email – just check if the agent or vendor has a preference first.
Surveyor’s report of the property
Once your offer has been accepted, it’s time to inspect the property closely and instruct a survey.
Your lender will carry out a valuation survey, but that’s just to check the property for lending purposes. Getting a survey of your own can help avoid nasty surprises and reassure you the house is structurally sound. It can even help you renegotiate your offer!
There are several types of survey available:
- RICS condition report - there's no advice or valuation with this
- RICS homebuyer report – it includes a valuation
- Structural survey - you get advice and a valuation
If the survey picks up on significant issues, you can ask to have those costs knocked off the asking price. For example, if the roof needs £10,000 of work, your offer could reflect this point.
Even if there aren’t any major issues, it is useful to keep this document to remind you what may need attention once you’re in.
Make sure you're covered at exchange
At exchange, you'll become responsible for the property, so you will need buildings insurance in place. Send a copy of your policy details to your solicitor for the record.
This is also an excellent time to check your contents insurance and see it covers your belongings in transit and let your insurer know your new address.
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Once you have completed on your home, there are a few documents you will want to pull together and keep in a safe place.
Your solicitor's title report is very useful. It includes a summary of the legal title as well as property search results. It should also have the seller's property information form, with lots of useful information like where the meters and water stopcock are.
For properties under 10 years old, you should receive a copy of the NHBC new home warranty, or similar. If something goes wrong, you'll be able to claim against these during the warranty period.
If any extensions or renovations have taken place, make sure you have the building control certificates, showing the work was signed off properly.
If your solicitor didn’t provide some of this paperwork, ask the seller. This is when having a good relationship with them can help!
Within 30 days of completion, your solicitor will also confirm in writing that the stamp duty has been paid. After a couple of months, they will send you a copy of the registered title. If it's leasehold, they will include a copy of the lease and service charge accounts.
Keeping all these documents together will help you look after your new home properly and make it that much quicker if and when you should come to sell.
Research to help you move
But, most of all, you'll want information to help you move with confidence and get a better deal in the process. A property report can help you do just that.
Our reports provide a detailed review of the property, and its surrounding area, as well as how to use the information for your own benefit. It highlights the positives as well as the negatives, helping you to make a balanced and well-informed decision.
Get yours below.