Darvill Estate Agents
tel: 01271 322 123

Buying a property?

For help choosing a property to making an offer, and for help on Freehold, Leasehold and Commonhold properties please click here.

Help on buying a property

Choosing a property

Viewing properties can be long and laborious if you haven't identified exactly what you want and where. Research the areas you are interested in, paying particular attention to the things that are most important to you, such as local amenities, transport links, schools, open space and council-tax bands.

When you have found the area/s you want to live in and the type of property you can afford, it's time to start viewing properties. It's best to have a list of things to ask and look out for, to help you identify properties that might be worth a second viewing, for example:

  • Ask to see a copy of the energy performance certificate (EPC).
  • If it is a leasehold property, how many years are left on the lease?
  • Check out the boiler.
  • Does the property have gas central heating?
  • What council-tax band is the property in?
  • Does the property have double glazing?
  • Is the attic well insulated (check the EPC)?
  • If the property is leasehold, are there any service charges?
  • Is the property near suitable transport links?

When viewing a property, it is best to take a friend or relative with you for a second opinion. If you like the property, make sure you view it at different times of the day to get a better idea of what living in the property and the area is really like.

Freehold, leasehold & commonhold - what does it all mean?

Freehold means you own the land and the property completely and you are responsible for all maintenance and repairs.

Leasehold means the freeholder agrees to sell you a lease on the property for a specified number of years. The lease will state who is responsible for maintaining the property and grounds. You may have to pay ground rent and service charges.

Leases are usually for 99 years or 999 years, with the length reducing each year. Recent laws have increased the rights of leaseholders, enabling them collectively to either buy the freehold or seek an extension to the original lease. The laws are complex, so do get independent legal advice. The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) website, www.lease-advice.org, is a good place to start.

Commonhold applies to flats. It means you own the freehold to the flat and share the freehold of the communal areas and grounds with the other owners. You don't have to pay service charge or ground rent, but you will have to contribute towards the commonhold association fund for things like maintenance and insurance.

Making an offer

When you are ready to make your offer, call Darvill Estate Agents immediately. If you like the property, the chances are others will too, so speed is essential. You may want to put your offer in writing and give the name of your solicitor.

We will contact the seller and await their decision. Don't be surprised if your first offer is rejected. Buying and selling is about negotiation and this is where we come into our own.

If your offer is accepted, we will write to confirm the address of the property, the agreed price, and the terms and conditions. The document will also include the names and addresses of both parties and their solicitors.


On May 21 2010 Home Information Packs were abolished. As a buyer, though, you will still need to get hold of lots of important information about the property you plan to buy; a process better known as conveyancing.

It is best to employ a professional conveyancer, with the all the necessary legal qualifications, here at Darvill Estate Agents we can offer an inhouse conveyancing service which you can monitor 24/7 online throughout the whole process. We will make sure you have all the information you need to proceed with the purchase and flag up any details, which may affect your decision.

A conveyancer should check and supply you with the following information as a minimum:

  • Evidence of title
  • Local-authority searches
  • Land charges searches
  • Water and drainage searches
  • A copy of the lease, where applicable
  • Commonhold documents, where applicable
  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Your conveyancer will chase up any queries you have about the property or the purchase with the seller's solicitors. They will not allow the sale to proceed until you have received all the relevant information and confirmed you are ready to exchange contracts.

Conveyancing takes around 10-12 weeks, but this varies from case to case and sometimes the process can take much longer. Leasehold properties involve more work as the lease has to be thoroughly checked and this will affect the cost and may take more time.

Surveys and valuation reports

Your mortgage lender will arrange a basic valuation of the property. This inspection is purely for the lender's benefit, even though you have to pay for it, and it reassures the lender that the property is worth the price you have offered.

Many people also choose to commission their own, more detailed, survey. This should help to uncover any underlying problems with the property. There are two types of survey you can buy: a homebuyer's report and a building survey.

Speak to your conveyancer or Darvill Estate Agents for advice.

Costs and fees

If you're buying a property, you should budget for the following costs.

  • Mortgage arrangement fee
  • Mortgage indemnity guarantee
  • Lender's valuation fee
  • Conveyancing fees
  • Land registry fee
  • Surveys
  • Stamp duty:

0% paid at 0-£125,000
1% paid on properties costing between £125,001 and £250,000
3% between £250,001 and £500,000
4% on properties costing more than £500,001.

* if you are a first-time buyer you are exempt to stamp duty up to £250,000

  • Removal costs
  • Contingency fund
  • Home insurance
  • Contents insurance