Milestone Estate Agents
Guide to buying

Buying property - a brief guide

Milestone Estate Agents in Willesden, London

Buying a property is one of the biggest investments you will ever make so you should know what you are getting into.

When looking at property, you have to take some time to have a good think about what you really want. This could be your home for a very long time.  What is important to you? Break things down into what is essential and what is desirable.  This is a good way to make a start and will set you on the road to owning a new home.  If you are planning to buy a property as a rental investment, think about who your prospective tenants might be and what their requirements may be.  You can find more information on this in our ‘Buy to Let’ section.

Choosing a location

Assuming you want to move into the property yourself, high on the list of priorities will be where you live.  Perhaps the home will be just for yourself, but maybe you have a partner or live with family or friends.  Discuss with them what areas they want to move to.  Things to consider are:

How far from work is it? How far from work is it?
Do you want to live in a busy area or do you like a quiet life? Do you want to live in a busy area or do you like a quiet life?
What local amenities are there? What local amenities are there?
What are the transport links like? Are there bus services in the area? How far is the nearest bus stop and tube station? What zone are they in? Do the buses run regularly or even 24 hours? What are the transport links like? Are there bus services in the area?  How far is the nearest bus stop and tube station?  What zone are they in?  Do the buses run regularly or even 24 hours?
Do bus and train service run direct to your place of work or will changes increase journey times? Do bus and train service run direct to your place of work or will changes increase journey times?
If there are children in the household, which schools fall within your catchment area and do they have a good reputation? What about local colleges for older children? If there are children in the household, which schools fall within your catchment area and do they have a good reputation?  What about local colleges for older children?

Is there a good selection of doctors and dentist locally?

Do you want to be near a high street?

Is parking essential and will you have to pay any costs for residential and visitor permits? 

If you are moving to a new area, try to visit it a few times and familiarize yourself with it. Is there much property for sale and if so how much is it currently selling for? What are the neighbours like?  If you are interested in several different areas compare market prices for like for like properties in different postcodes.   How much of what you want can you really get for your budget depending on the postcode you select?

Type of property

Another essential factor in choosing a property is what kind of home you are looking for.  Things to consider are the following:

  • Do you want to live in a flat or a house? Leasehold or freehold?
  • If you choose a flat, will you require a lift or are you comfortable with stairs.  This can be a deciding factor if you have very small children and perhaps use a pram.
  •   What about entrance security? 
  • Would you settle for a balcony or is a garden essential and if so will you settle for a less expensive area in order to have a garden?
  •  Do you want to live in a new build property or perhaps an older building with character is more up your street.  Consider any renovation or repair work that may be needed and find out what work has been done already.
  • How many rooms do you need?  Would it be important to have a spare room or if you are thinking of starting a family or extending yours at some point, would it be a good idea to have that extra room so you don’t have to go through a chain of buying and selling in the future.  Maybe you need a spare room for office or storage space?
  • Do you drive - will you want a property with a drive or a garage maybe?

Financial matters

Once you have decided what type of property you want and where you want to live, the next step is to sort out your finances.  Make sure they are in order as this will help a seller in his decision in selling the property to you and will also help you avoid the prospect of being gazumped - having a competing buyer snatch the property from under your nose! We have experienced mortgage advisors in our team who can help determine how much you should be able to spend on a property and will also be advise you on the different types of mortgages that are available and which one will best suit your financial situation.  They will advise you on deposits, monthly repayments, interest rates, insurance fees and all other costs involved in becoming a homeowner. They can also help you set up a protection plan in case your circumstances change and you are able to keep up repayments.   Our advice is free, impartial and confidential and there is no obligation to arrange your mortgage through us, however, if you do choose us, our rates are extremely competitive.

Once you have arranged your mortgage the fun can then begin and you can start your property search.  Why not call into our office and search our huge database? This is updated every few hours. Based upon your requirements we will be able to generate a listing of suitable properties. Our advisors can use their experience to help you narrow down your choices and find the perfect property. If you don’t have time to pop into the office or would prefer to look at properties at your own leisure, you can use our simple online search facility.  Just enter the location, property size and budget and let the search facility do the rest.


When you have found a property that matches your requirements we will arrange a viewing.  Our offices are open from -------- to -----------but we can offer appointments in the evening or at the weekends if this is more convenient to you.  A property usually looks best in daylight, so you may want to make two visits to make a balanced judgment.  Have a checklist of things that you may need to look out for.

The offer

So you have viewed a property and were so impressed you are ready to make an offer.  As soon as you are confident that you have made the correct decision and are comfortable with that, let us know so we can put in the offer for you.  We will advise you what a good offer would be. This will be based upon things like how long the property has been on the market, what other properties in the area are selling for and how long the last property on that road took to sell amongst other factors.  Things the seller will consider when deciding to sell to you will be if you are involved in a chain - statistics show one in three of these usually falls apart! The seller may want to know when you expect to move in and how this tallies with his/her own plans.  Make it clear to the seller you are willing to work to their timescale.

If all goes to plan and your offer is accepted, this will be confirmed in writing.  The sale has now been agreed, subject to any stipulations and terms and conditions which will be discussed at this stage.  You can request a formal mortgage application in relation to the property you have selected. The legalities of the sale must now be dealt with and the conveyancing process begins.

The legal stuff!

Conveyancing is the legal transfer of a property from its present owners to the buyer. Although it is actually possible to do this yourself, this is not recommended so for this part of the buying process you will need to instruct a solicitor. Most mortgage brokers will insist on this.  As we are long established in the business we will be able to direct you to a solicitor who will be trustworthy, reliable and experienced.  Your solicitor will confer with the seller’s solicitor to prepare and complete all the legal documentation necessary to transfer ownership of the home to you.  The solicitor will also keep you informed as to how the sale is progressing.  The solicitor will gather information from you and will also need to obtain copies of certain documents for which there will be additional fees.  These include land registry charges and title deeds and leases if applicable. Once a draft contract has been drawn up the solicitor will go over it and ensure there are no inconsistencies.  Any issues raised will be address and providing everything is in order, contracts can be dated, signed and a completion date will be set.  Your deposit will be taken and a request for confirmation of your mortgage offer will be made at this point.

Your mortgage

Your lender will arrange a mortgage valuation to ensure that they are lending the correct amount of money and that the property is not of a lesser value than the mortgage.  You will be advised to get a survey done on the property.  This can be arranged through a chartered surveyor and we will be happy to put you in touch with one.  When your mortgage lender is happy with everything they will confirm your mortgage offer and send a copy to your solicitor as per their request.


Once the contracts have been signed and exchanged the sale is legally binding.  If you want to change your mind at this point you will lose your deposit.  The seller will not be allowed to change his mind about the price agreed. You can now get on with preparing to move into your new home - If you are arranging any deliveries try not to do them on the day of completion as though the wheels should be set in motion in the morning there are no guarantees what time you will get the keys.  Organise removals and set about arranging buildings and contents insurance.

The final day

Once your solicitor had made sure all outstanding monies have been transferred to the seller’s legal team you will be able to collect the transfer documents and title deeds and the all important keys.   Congratulations!!!  We wish you have many years of enjoyment in your new home.

After completion we can assist you with other matters such as utility provision, removal companies, building and contents insurance, painters and decorators etc.

For more detailed advice about the buying and selling process, please give us a call or drop in.  We will be happy to help you.

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