Buying Process

Buyers Guide: Buying a House in St Albans

Wherever you are thinking of buying a new property in St Albans you need to ensure you get the best deal possible. In our buyer’s guide we break down everything you need to do to ensure you secure a great place to live in.

Look at your finances

Buying a property will likely be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. So the first thing to do is to look at your finances to see what you can and cannot afford.

Most mortgage lenders require you to have at least 10% of the property’s value available for a deposit. For example, if you want to buy a property worth £450,000, you will have to put down an initial £45,000. The remaining £405,000 will be spread across a fixed amount of years with added interest (if not a fixed-rate mortgage).

Alternatively, there are government schemes like Help to Buy, Shared Ownership, Right to Buy and Starter Home plans you may be eligible for that can help. To find out more about Help to Buy Schemes in St Albans, check out our useful guide.

Get in touch with a reputable broker who can discuss the options available to you. Before you can get a mortgage, you need to buy the property, so if you can get a ‘mortgage in principle’ (AIP) first that will help calculate how much you can borrow.

Searching for properties

Now it’s time to start looking at properties in St Albans to see what’s available. Take into consideration both the property and the area you want to live in:

  • Property type: Would you prefer a house, flat or apartment? How many bedrooms do you need? Are you thinking of starting a family? Do you need a garage, parking space or garden? Do you prefer semi, detached, terraced etc?
  • House price: This will play a big part in the deposit amount needed. Do you want to live close to the city, where it may be more expensive, or further out? Cost is also determined by house or flat size and the features included.
  • Local amenities: If you have children look at local school’s performances. What kind of local shops and supermarkets are nearby? Do you have access to good transport links? Is the crime rate high or low? How much council tax will you have to pay?

Looking online is helpful, but try to visit the area to get a feel and first-hand view of what it would be like living there. And if you know anyone already in the area ask for their feedback and thoughts.

Once you find a few properties you like, you should book a property viewing so you can look at the house or flat in person to make sure it’s right for you.

Selecting an estate agent

You will want to find a reliable and professional local estate agent to help you navigate through the purchasing process.

A good local estate agent will be able to use their knowledge to help you find the right properties and keep you alert to when new opportunities come onto the market. Their insight can make all the difference on the type of property you buy and the price you end up paying.

At Daniels, we have over 25 years’ experience with helping buyers find their ideal property in St Albans. Our sales team are all experts in the St Albans property market and are on hand to help you find the perfect property. Whether you’re looking for a modern flat in St Albans city centre or a family home in Clarence Park, our team will scour the market to find properties which match your exact requirements. We are also members of various industry bodies such as The Property Ombudsman and NAEA Propertymark, so you can be rest assured that you’re in safe hands.

Are you searching for a flat or house for sale in St Albans? Get in touch with our friendly team today or register for property updates with us to keep up-to-date with the latest properties as soon as they come onto the market.

Choosing the property

When you search for a property you need to check its overall condition to ensure it is worth the value it is being sold for. These are the things you should look out for when searching and viewing properties:

  • Interiors: Are windows single or double glazed? What are the conditions of the locks like?  Check for mould or damp and any cracks or issues in the walls or ceilings. Flush the toilets and run taps and showers in kitchens and bathrooms to check the water flow. Also check light switches and that the flooring in all rooms is in good condition.
  • Exterior: If the property comes with a garden see how much work might be needed to keep it in good condition. Just as importantly, ensure the drainage and gutters are in order as repairs can be costly. Take a step back to look at the roof and tiling and the condition of the brickwork.
  • Other questions: Ask where the boiler is so you can take a closer look and if any carbon monoxide, burglar or fire alarms have been installed. Enquire about the council tax and what sort of TV/internet connections are active and ready for use.

Hire a conveyancer/solicitor

Both buyer and seller have to instruct either a conveyance or solicitor and it’s a good idea to have one ready for when you have an offer accepted. Their job is to manage the legal aspects of the process, drawing up and reviewing the contract, conducting searches, dealing with Land Registry and ownership transfers and stamp duty responsibilities.

Costs will vary, but expect to pay anywhere from £500 to £1,000. In terms of finding a good conveyancer or solicitor, do online research, speak on the phone and meet them in person to ensure you make the right choice.

At Daniels, we work with a number of reliable and efficient solicitors based in St Albans who have helped many buyers with the purchase of their property. Ultimately, it’s up to you which solicitor you choose but if you do struggle to find one we can recommend one.

Making an offer

When you find a property you like it’s time to put forward an offer. Negotiation skills are needed here, as the first offer is not often accepted straight away.

This is where our sales team are useful. We can help you judge the best starting offer, using our experience and the knowledge of the local property market. Avoid telling the seller your budget as you don’t want to give too much away as it weakens your position.

Finalise the deal

If your offer is accepted you can then instruct the conveyancer/solicitor to start their work. This includes organising a property survey, with three different types available – Homeybuyer’s report, condition report or a build survey. These will identify any problems with the property that need to be resolved.

The deposit can then be transferred to the solicitor/conveyancer for them to hold ahead of it being passed onto the seller. Contracts will then have to be checked and signed by both parties. This is the point where the deal becomes legally binding and could lead to legal action and loss of the deposit if the buyer backs out after this happens. You can also agree a completion date and ensure buildings insurance has been arranged.

When you reach the completion date, Land Registry details will be updated, with full funds sent to the seller. In return, you’ll receive the deeds in your name and the keys to the property. All that is left is to pay the conveyancer/solicitor (which will include stamp duty costs) and you can enjoy life in your new property.

Looking to buy property in St Albans?

If you’re thinking of buying a flat or house in St Albans and would like more details on the buying process or our available properties, get in touch with our team today. Alternatively, you can browse our range of existing properties for sale in St Albans online.