Buying a Home – Understanding the Home Buying Process
Buying a home is an exciting milestone, it’s likely to be one of the biggest steps in your life so far. At Gleeson we’ll ensure that buying your new home is the smoothest process possible and that it’s enjoyable throughout!
So, what does it take to buy a home?
The home of great value
We’re the home of great value, and we have over 80 developments of affordable homes across the North and the Midlands for you to choose from.
You can search by region or postcode, and then have a look into each development to pick the right area for you to put down roots. Whether you seek countryside living or love a little more hustle and bustle, we’re sure to have the perfect location for you. Or you can even search by development name if you already know your dream destination.
Find your home
At Gleeson we know that where you live and how you live are equally as important. Across our over 80 developments, we have an array of 2, 3 and 4 bedroom homes for you to choose from, allowing you to find the style that works perfectly for you.
Every Gleeson home comes with a garden and a driveway, and many of our homes have a garage. If you are looking for more space for a growing family well you should start by thinking about the number of bedrooms you need and how you’ll use them. Or consider other design features, for example, would you like an open plan feel or something more cosy? Whether you need a utility room or an en-suite bathroom, there is a house type to suit your every need.
Check your budget
This is exactly where you’ll need to start when buying a home. To buy a home, it’s likely that you’ll need a mortgage. A mortgage is a legal agreement by a bank or other lender by which they lend you the money to make your home purchase. The amount you will be eligible to borrow is dependent upon a number of factors and calculating your mortgage eligibility is key in identifying your budget.
When calculating the amount you can borrow for a mortgage you’ll need to consider a number of things.
First and foremost you’ll need to think about your annual salary. We’d always recommend looking at the latest market stats as this is subject to change, however commonly a mortgage lender will loan you four to four and a half times your annual salary (depending on a number of other factors too). They will also consider any other income you receive, including things like a second employment, freelancing, benefits, commission or bonuses.
The deposit amount you need will vary on the house your buying. Deposit amounts usually start from 5%, the bigger the deposit you have (such as 10% or 15%) will result in lower monthly mortgage repayments or allow you to shorten your estimated mortgage term length.
Alongside your annual income, lenders will look into your monthly outgoings to make sure that the monthly mortgage payments are affordable for you and that what you are left with after your monthly spend is enough to cover the repayments. They’ll have a look into household bills, general spending and other debts such as credit cards or loans.
Interest rates can fluctuate according to what is going on in the housing market and wider economy, so the lender will carry out what they call a ‘stress test’ to make sure that you can still afford the payments if the interest rate goes up or if your personal circumstance was to change e.g. you needed to take maternity leave.
Another thing to consider is your credit score. Your credit score is a representation of how the financial world sees you and demonstrates how reliable you are financially. Checking your credit score before applying for a mortgage is always a good idea. Lenders will use this score to decide whether or not to lend you money for your mortgage. Your credit score can be checked by using tools such as Experian and Equifax and remember, the higher the score the better.
Your mortgage terms can be altered to suit your needs, all of this can affect how much you can borrow and how much your monthly repayments will be. Common mortgages are capital repayments – meaning you’ll repay both your capital and interest on a monthly basis. But something key to consider when calculating your budget is the repayment period. The longer the period, the more spread out the capital repayment is, meaning your monthly rate will likely reduce.
Choose the right mortgage for you
The majority of buyers use a mortgage to purchase their home. There are two options for getting a mortgage: going straight to the lender or using a broker to help find the right deal.
At Gleeson we work with new build mortgage specialists Meridian Mortgages who can definitely make the process a quicker due to their familiarity with our homes. Whether you decide to use them or not, it’s still a great idea to contact a financial advisor as they will help you choose the right mortgage for you, considering things such as mortgage terms, interest rates, or even mortgage type. Whether you arrange your mortgage via a lender or a broker, the mortgage process typically takes between four to six weeks.
If you’re not quite ready with your mortgage but are desperate to reserve your home, then make sure to speak to our sales team who may be able to take a holding reservation, giving you some extra time to get a mortgage in place. A holding reservation typically lasts for one week.
Pick a solicitor
Now that you’ve checked your budget and arranged your mortgage, you’ll need to pick a solicitor. A solicitor is “a member of the legal profession qualified to deal with lawful matters” and will be an integral part of purchasing your new home. When you reserve your new Gleeson home, your Sales Executive will most likely ask you for the contact details for your solicitor. Gleeson can recommend solicitors to you, or you can choose your own.
You’re always best checking with them directly what they will cover for you but typically they will; handle contracts, conduct property searches, transfer the funds and finalise completion and offer any relevant legal advice. A solicitor is key in the home buying journey, they in a nutshell, ensure your home becomes legally yours.
Reserve your home
Once your solicitor is chosen and in place, you’ll need to officially reserve your home so that it can’t be sold to anyone else. To do this you’ll need to contact our Sales Executive for your chosen development, book and appointment and secure your home in person.
To reserve there will be a small fee to pay, this is usually £200. To make sure this process goes as smoothly as possible when reserving, make sure to bring with you the following documents to your appointment:
- Your credit/debit card to pay the reservation fee
- Your last three months’ pay slips and latest P60 (if you’re self-employed then you’ll need two years of accounts)
- Proof of ID – a passport and driving licence are recommended
- Proof of address – your last three months utility bills or council tax
- Proof of income – bank statements from the last three months
- Employers details (where applicable)
Instruct your solicitor
After you have reserved your home, you can instruct your solicitor to proceed. Your solicitor will go through your draft contract and any supporting documents with you. They’ll be there to answer any questions and note down any queries you have. They will then save you a job, and contact us directly to clarify all of this. They’ll make sure the contract is correct, that your deposit is fully protected and cover all the little details.
In order to speed up the process we will supply your solicitor with a number of searches carried out specifically on your plot by an independent search provider. Your solicitor will check these for you, just to confirm that everything is in place and how it should be.
Your solicitor may mention the term local authority search. All this means is that they will look at information held by the local authority involving the property that you are purchasing. They’ll look into planning permissions or restrictions and who is responsible for maintaining the roads, paths, sewers and all things construction related. Not only will they cover local authority searches but they will also check the Land Registry, just to confirm that we – the seller is the legal owner of the property you are buying.
Your solicitor will make you aware of any covenants that are in place once you move in. Covenants are standard when buying a new build home, and we apply these so that we can protect the look and feel of your new development. We have a handy covenants guide that our Sales Executive will give you, but make sure to discuss this with your solicitor too
The tenure of your Gleeson home will be freehold. This means that you and only you own and are responsible for the building and the land that it stands on outright and in perpetuity. It is your name that is on the Land Registry as ‘freeholder’, owing the ‘title absolute’.
Leasehold means that you just have a lease from the freeholder (sometimes called landlord) to use the home for a number of years. In these circumstances, leases are often anything between 90 and 999 years, but it does mean that you might have to pay maintenance fees to the freeholder. All of our homes are freehold to ensure ease for our customers.
If there are any other searches your solicitor feels necessary in addition to the ones we send to them, they’ll of course let you know and help you with them.
Choose your options!
Now for the fun bit! You can personalise your stunning new Gleeson with our fantastic range of options and upgrades. From exciting interior features to more practical options such as alarm systems and plug points, you can tweak your home to your style and get creative.
As options depend on the build stage of your home, your Sales Executive will outline everything that is available to you and offer any advice or additional information you may need. All you’ll need to do is go away, reflect on what you want from your space and when you’re ready we’ll invite you back to our Sales Centres for an options meeting to finalise your choices.
Exchange of contracts
When your solicitor has finished their part and we’ve both agreed on the contracts this is when you’ll be asked to sign them. This stage is quite a big deal, as this is when you become legally committed to buying your home. Your solicitor will have checked everything necessary and won’t ask you to sign anything until they are sure everything is how it is meant to be from a legal point of view. When you’ve signed the contracts we can get straight on to finalising the sale of your new home.
Each and every Gleeson home comes with a 10 year NHBC warranty, and throughout the build process of your home an independent NHBC inspector carries out inspections to ensure that it meets NHBC standards.
Once your home is built, the NHBC will complete what is called a CML inspection. CML refers to the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the CML certificate is a document that is provided by a warranty provider to confirm the property has passed a pre-handover inspection and is habitable. Upon issue of the certificate, the mortgage lender will then release the funds for your home.
Once a CML certificate has been issued, the NHBC; our warranty provider, will issue a certificate of insurance which confirms the start of your 10 year warranty. Again, your solicitors will deal with this documentation directly.
Once your home is fully built and the CML has taken place, we will carry out a final inspection to make sure that your home is ready to move in to. We have a passionate team of Customer Relations Managers (CRM’s) to conduct these inspections.
Whilst we hope that your home is issue free, sometimes there can be minor imperfections that need a little TLC. Our Customer Relations Managers will address anything with the Site Manager so we make sure these have been rectified prior to you getting the keys.
Once your home is signed off, we’ll then invite you down for a new home demonstration. Your Site Manager and Sales Executive will walk you around your new home and show you the ropes. They’ll cover everything from how your oven works, to how to bleed your radiators. But don’t worry about remembering every detail, we’ll give you access to our handy homeowner videos so you have our help 24 hours a day.
The best bit! Legal completion is when the property transaction is legally finalised. This takes place when our solicitor tells yours that we have received your monies. Your solicitor will arrange for the transfer of monies and will also make sure that any stamp duty is also paid to HMRC.
Stamp duty is a Government tax on buying a property over a certain price bracket, and is only applicable if the price of the home you’re buying is over the relevant threshold. Stamp duty is paid on completion.
First-time buyers don’t pay stamp duty. So, thanks to the affordability of our homes, and the fact that many of our customers are first-time buyers we find that the majority of our customers do not have to pay stamp duty.
When you’ve completed we’ll handover the keys, and your homeowner pack which contains your homeowner’s manual, appliance warranties and any other documents you need.
After completion your solicitor will continue with the formal side of things and register you as the homeowner with the Land Registry. It can take several weeks for the Land Registry to complete this process. Once it has been completed your solicitor will send you a copy of the updated Land Registry entry showing you as the owners of your new home.
When you become a homeowner there are just a few things that you’ll need to sort out after you move in.
We know that you’re bound to rack up a heap of cardboard and rubbish from unpacking all your lovely new furniture and home accessories. You’ll need to order your bins with the council directly via their official website and pay a small fee. Fees can vary depending on local council policies but we estimate that the most expensive bin you’ll need is no more than £50. You’ll have your standard bins, your recycling bins and make sure to enquire about a green bin for garden waste, as some councils give these out for free!
Until you’re the legal owner of the property you won’t be responsible for any utility bills generated up until that point. So at your legal completion or key release, when you do become the owner, we’ll take your meter readings and confirm them with the utility companies. After this, you will then need to contact your local water supplier, British Gas, and your chosen electricity supplier. You won’t be able to change water supplier but you don’t have to stick with British Gas, this part is up to you entirely. Although, we’d recommend sticking with them for just for a few months, just to check that everything is working as usual.
Now let’s talk internet, as we know you can’t live without it and this is probably fairly high on your tick list. We work with BT’s Open Reach division to supply internet to our developments. Open Reach actually supply internet to every single housebuilder in the UK. They will install the cabling to your property which gives you an internet connection.
As a general rule, commissioning of this connection will take place after legal completion, to make sure that cables aren’t dislodged during the build process. It’s definitely worthwhile speaking to your Sales Executive as to how the process works as it can differ across regions.
In some cases the Open Reach representative may liaise directly with the Site Manager on connections, and in others it may be your responsibility as the homeowner to contact Open Reach and arrange the connection (as they will need access to your home to do this). Once the cabling is connected to the little BT box in your home, you’re then free to choose whichever supplier you want. You’re not tied into using BT, they’re just the contractor we use to get that infrastructure in place and ready for you.
Whilst there are a number of things to think about after moving into your new home, we can’t go ahead without quickly reminding you about council tax and home insurance. You don’t want to be blindsided by a huge council tax bill that you forgot about, do you? Don’t forget your TV license either!
Our top tip for home insurance is to shop around and find the best deal. Comparison sites are great, and you may even get a better deal if you ring up.
We know we could never list every single thing you need to think about after moving into your new home but we hope our expertise can guide you through the key parts.
When you move in, we’ll give you 24/7 access to our My Gleeson portal. Your new home will have undergone a thorough inspection process to make sure we are handing over a home for you to be proud of. Whilst we hope that your home will be issue free, with a manmade product we do acknowledge that sometimes things can go wrong. On My Gleeson you can let us know of any problems that occur. My Gleeson is accessible to customers 24 hours a day and allows you to raise any concerns at your own convenience. Your Sales Executives will take an email address for you, we’ll then set up your account and send you over the login details so you are good to go.
On My Gleeson you’ll also be able to access our handy customer videos, that demonstrate how to use your heating, give tips on decorating your home, and point out the external features of your home.
We hope that our buying process guide has helped you on your first steps to home buying with Gleeson!
Buying with Gleeson means you'll get a super affordable home, with all the benefits of choosing new, including low energy bills, new appliances and a stunning blank canvas. So, what are you waiting for?