10 Step Purchasing Guide

Providing individual mortgage advice; unique to you

Whether you are an experienced property purchaser or a complete novice to owning a property at all, it's important for you to understand what to expect. Here at ATM, we have provided a 10 step guide that should give you a basic understanding of what each step consists of throughout the purchasing process:



  1. Seeking advice for a mortgage product and lender suitable to you and your financial position 
    • It's imperative that you seek the right product, and lender that fits your criteria. At ATM we are whole of market advisors and therefore assess the entire market in real time, without you having to go to individual banks and hope you have the best rate or feel like you are restricted to who you bank with
  2. Getting an agreement in principle (also known as a decision in principle)
    • An agreement in principle is the first step towards the mortgage process and gives you a preliminary confirmation of how much you can borrow for your mortgage and conduct a credit search to ensure that you are within the parameters of the lenders criteria. Not all lenders give you a certificate to prove the agreement in principle and therefore a print screen can be provided or alternatively you may provide our details to your estate agent to verify your position financially. The majority of estate agents require you to have this stage completed at the very least before conducting any viewings, and they most certainly require you to have this before making any offers for a property.
  3. Finding the right property for you 
    • The most typical outlets as everyone knows is Rightmove and Zoopla, a few fundamentals when searching for the right type of property are:
      • Check the dates the property has been added to the sites, typically if the property has been added within 24 to 48 hours there usually is an influx of buyers who wish to view the property at the same time as you and you could find yourself in the middle of a negotiation battle amongst other buyers especially if the property is in a prime location and price incredibly well
      • Geographical location - if you are seeking a “forever” home and ensuring that you have the right means for accessibility to work, local schools and nearby amenities will be something to strongly consider 
      • Transport - focusing on your travelling distance to work whether that be by train, car, bike or even just walking it's worth understanding the distance you'll be travelling on a day-to-day basis.
      • Prices in the area - if you do find the right property for you it's easy for you to fall in love with the idea of what the property is and how you can see yourself living there. When you combine this with the prospect of a negotiation battle with another buyer this could encourage you to overpay what the property may be worth and if you are successful in negotiating the price could leave you feeling resentful if your intention is not to stay there for 5 years or more
  1. Negotiating the right price 
    • As most know, property prices in the UK have consistently risen especially over the last 20 years with some locations proving to be quite extortionate to live in. Therefore it's imperative for you to understand what the typical price is within the area so that you know whether you are purchasing at a price that makes sense not only to you, but also to the lender. You can check this by seeing what properties have sold for on the land registry, alternatively Rightmove & Zoopla offer facilities that allow you to see what houses have sold for nearby. 
    • If you find yourself in a position where you have paid over asking price and therefore feel that this is a little bit of a stretch for you to get to financially, please be aware that the lender will conduct their own basic survey on the property to ensure that the property price is worth what you are willing to pay for it. If the lender believes that you are paying too much for the house they will do a down valuation. This means the lender will confirm that the price of the property is in fact lower than what you're willing to pay for it and it is at this point you can either renegotiate the price to a number that fits the lenders expectations or seek a new property that is within the budget they have suggested
  2. Submitting your application and instructing your solicitors/ conveyancer
    • Once you are successful in negotiating a price for your home, it is at this stage that you will then provide all the documentation required to submit your application in full. Please refer to our section on frequently asked questions to see what the typical documents required are.
    • It is also at this point that you need to ensure that you have a solicitor ready to conduct the legal work for the property purchase process. The solicitor must be on the panel of the bank we are working with and this means your solicitor can work on behalf of the lender as well as yourself. If your solicitor is not on the panel of the chosen bank you may be liable for an additional cost by way of instructing a second solicitor who can work on behalf of the mortgage lender. If you require solicitors quotes please let us know and we can send over several companies to assist and ensure that they are on the panel of the bank we are working with.
  3. Assessment of your information and mortgage survey of the property 
    • Once your application has been submitted to the lender, the case will be passed to an underwriter who will then assess all the documentation provided to the lender to ensure the affordability fits the mortgage amount and check your regular income and outgoings on a monthly basis. If an underwriter believes they need further verification to assess your position before granting the mortgage they will request a number of documents in addition to what you have already sent, this is quite normal and it is part of the banks risk assessment on you as their future customer
  4. Mortgage Offer received 
    • The mortgage offer is the safest position to be in aside from the exchange of contracts, this means that the bank has done a full assessment on you as a future customer, on the property with a basic survey, and they feel everything is acceptable. It is at this stage that a copy will be sent to your advisor, sent to you directly as the customer, and a copy will also be sent to your chosen solicitor.
  5. Legal work to be finalised
    • Throughout the mortgage process your solicitor would have started some of the legal work which is typically seeking local authority searches, this is a report provided by the borough/council of the area you are purchasing in and is a cost incurred by you as the buyer. The cost of local authority searches can vary with some boroughs charging from £150 plus. Once you have received your mortgage offer and a copy has been sent to your solicitor this is typically when all the legal documents are assessed to ensure that there are no hidden restrictions within the property and to ensure that it fits the full criteria of the bank as part of your mortgage offer.
  6. Formal exchange of contracts 
    • It is at this point that you become the legal owner of the property you are purchasing and it's the point of no return. At the point of exchange you would typically provide your deposit in full to your solicitor and any stamp duty that you are due to pay along with their fee. Your solicitor will then execute the exchange with the seller solicitors and it's important at this point you get the property insured. If you are purchasing a flat, there is a high probability you will be paying a service charge and within said charge your buildings insurance is included, however please check this with your legal counsel.
  7. Formal completion date 

This is where the money has been received from the mortgage lender and sent to the sellers solicitors. It is at this point the property becomes a legal completion and you are free to collect the keys and pop the champagne

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