UNITED KINGDOM Info and Resources

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Buying Property in UK

Most people buying property in the UK use the services of estate agents, who often offer a complete service to the house buyer including valuation and surveying of properties before purchase. There is no charge to the buyer for helping them to find a suitable property. Some estate agents also offer conveyancing services, or alternatively these can be provided by solicitors. Mortgage facilities are available from banks, building societies and other financial institutions, on evidence of salary or other income.


UK property prices are quite high, although they vary considerably between regions of the country, being particularly high in London and the south east of England, and lower in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the north of England. The average property prices in July 2005 were:


Detached house GBP241,197
Semi-detached house GBP160,846
Bungalow (1 storey) GBP189,316
Terraced house GBP131,772
Flat GBP144,539



In England and Wales, all properties are classified as either freehold or leasehold. If you purchase a freehold property (most houses fall into this category) you own it fully, whereas if you buy a leasehold property (many flats), your ownership is limited to the length of time specified in the lease, which is usually up to 999 years. The lease will clarify responsibility for maintenance of the property, and the amount which is payable as ground rent to the freeholder each year.


The process of buying a property in England and Wales is as follows:


1. Make an offer on the property, which will usually be around 5% to 10% less than the initial asking price (this is usually done through the estate agent, who will negotiate between the buyer and seller of the property until an agreed price is reached). Acceptable prices are generally about 97% of the asking price. You can't get 10% off, unless it's a really run down house. 5% off is rare.
2. Secure a confirmed mortgage if needed.
3. Arrange for a survey or mortgage valuation to be carried out.
4. Arrange for conveyancing services from a solicitor or specialist conveyancing firm.
5. Confirm your offer price in the light of the survey or valuation results.
6. Agree a date for exchange of contracts.
7. At exchange of contracts, pay a deposit on the purchase price, and agree a completion date (usually between a week and a month after exchange of contracts).
8. On the completion date, pay the balance of the purchase price and receive the keys to the property. The bank or mortgage company will transfer the purchase funds to your solicitor who will pay the seller.


Solicitors' fees usually amount to at least several hundred pounds, payable shortly before completion. For purchases over GBP120,000 stamp duty is also payable via your solicitor.


It is important to note that the process of buying a property in Scotland is different, and even an initial offer is regarded as legally binding.


Most mortgage companies insist that buildings insurance is taken out on the property. UK householders also generally take out contents insurance and mortgage-repayment insurance.


-source expatfocus.com