If you’re interested in buying a property in Bristol but are unsure about some of the particulars involved in buying a house, check out our Buyer FAQs. Buying a property will likely be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make so it’s important to get it right. Our Buyer FAQs cover everything you need to know about buying a property in Bristol including mortgages, conveyancing, surveys and more.

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So you’ve decided you want to buy a property. The first thing you should do before you start searching for a property is to work out your finances, including what deposit and mortgage you can afford. Hydes of Bristol can put you in touch with some highly regarded local Bristol brokers who can help you calculate all the costs involved in buying a house. To find out more, contact us.

Once you have found a property that meets your affordability, the next step is to put in an offer. If the offer is accepted, you will need to apply for a mortgage and source a solicitor before proceeding further. Hydes of Bristol can put you in touch with highly regarded mortgage brokers and solicitors who can provide these services.

There are two main options when buying a property with another person.

Becoming joint tenants is an option whereby you both jointly own the whole property. Should one of you die, ownership will automatically pass to the other. The second option is to hold the property as tenants in common, which means each of you owns an agreed portion of the property. It might be that you own the property equally or that one of you owns 80% and the other 20% for example. A joint purchase should always be made with the advice of a solicitor.

Conveyancing covers everything that needs to happen to make the property legally yours. This needs to be covered by a solicitor. Hydes of Bristol can recommend a highly regarded local solicitor who can offer a conveyancing service at a competitive price.

Purchase times depend on the position of both the seller and buyer and if either of you are in a chain. If you need a mortgage and the seller is still in the property or has an onward property, the exchange of the contracts usually takes 6-8 weeks, with completion following after. In total, the entire process would take 10-12 weeks to complete the purchase.

However, if the seller has already vacated the property and you have secured a mortgage then exchange of contracts and completion will take less time. If you don’t need a mortgage, the process can be even quicker.

When buying a property in the UK over £125,000, you have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). This works similar to income tax, whereby you only pay the rate of tax on the part of the property price within each tax band. Details can be found below.

Property or lease premium or transfer value SDLT Rate
Up to £125,000 Zero
The next £125,000 (the portion from £125,001 to £250,000) 2%
The next £675,000 (the portion from £250,001 to £925,000) 5%
The next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million) 10%
The remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million) 12%

If purchasing a new home means you’ll own more than one property, you’ll usually have to pay an additional 3% on top of the above SDLT rates.

If you are buying your first home and the purchase cost is £500,000 or less, you pay zero SDLT on the first £300,000 and then 5% SDLT on the portion between £300,000 and £500,000. If the purchase cost is over £500,000, you follow the above rules for people who’ve bought a home before.

Though a survey isn’t compulsory, Hydes of Bristol recommend you arrange one whenever you purchase a property. A survey considers the current condition of the property, reducing the chance of surprise problems further down the line. There are three main types of surveys which vary in cost. Most properties will require a Condition Report as a minimum. In addition, you will have to pay for your mortgage lender to arrange a mortgage valuation in order to secure a mortgage. This confirms that the property is worth the mortgage cost.

A list of fixtures and fittings will be agreed between the solicitor prior to the contract being signed. This outlines what the sellers will remove and what they will include in the house price. In some cases, the seller may offer items for sale for the buyer to purchase. Some of the contents can be offered for inclusion as part of the purchase cost.

At least 10% of the deposit will need to be transferred to your solicitor before exchanging contracts. The remaining balance should then be transferred in the same way prior to completion.

The solicitor will request the mortgage funds from your lender. It usually takes 4-5 working days for the lender to release the funds.

Searches are carried out by your solicitor and include searches of Land Registry and Local Authority. These are commonly referred to as ‘local searches’ and cover planning history and any potential developments around the property affecting roads, drainage etc.

After the sale is agreed, the seller’s solicitor drafts a contact. Your solicitor will then confirm the details of the property, perform searches and raise any relevant enquiries. In addition, your mortgage lender will conduct a mortgage valuation and send you a mortgage offer. Once all of the above is complete, you will be in a position to sign the contract, however your solicitor will prompt you when the time comes.

Either party is free to pull out of the transaction at any point up until both solicitors receive signed contracts from the seller and the buyer (referred to as ‘exchange of contracts’).

Your contract should tell you where and when you should collect the keys, as well as what time the seller has to vacate the property. Normally, the seller must vacate the property by 12pm that day, with the keys being collected from the seller’s estate agent two hours later – 2pm.

Following you receiving the keys to the property, the title deeds of your property will remain with your solicitor for some months, before being transferred to your lender. They will hold the deeds until such a time as you sell the property, re-mortgage to another lender or repay in full the mortgage lent to you.