Step five: Make an offer
You will need to ensure you find the right independent solicitor and, with their advice, make and offer on your dream home. Your estate agent will make this offer to the seller for you. It is worth noting that even if the offer is accepted, the house is still not legally yours. You and the seller are not legally bound to complete the purchase until you have reached exchange of contracts. Until this happens, the seller is free to accept a higher offer from another party, should one materialise. This is called “gazumping” and is common practice in the UK, unfortunately.
Step six: Organise a survey
While your solicitors and agents work with the seller’s representatives to draw up the contract, it is worth organising an independent builder’s survey of your potential property. This will alert you to any problems with the home, such as structural damage or damp. Remember, the purchase is still not legally binding at this stage, so if any problems are found, it’s not too late to negotiate on price, or even pull out completely. The cost of a survey will vary from between £300 for a standard builder’s inspection to around £1,000 for a full structural survey. (Beware those hidden costs! Factor them into the budget!)