How to Buy Real Estate in England

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England is an old and beautiful country, rich with history and brimming with people who embrace their culture with pride. The houses in England range from old structures with traditionally British characteristics to modern townhouses that would look at place in the middle of America. Buying a property in England comes with its own set of unique rules and steps. Knowing these ahead of time will save you a great deal of time and confusion.

Consider all fees associated with buying a property in England. You will need to pay valuation and survey fees, and a land registry fee. England assesses properties with a Value Added Tax (VAT), which is similar to the American sales tax and is based on the worth of the home. A Stamp Duty Tax is incurred in a home with a price over a certain amount, and is typically 1 percent to 4 percent of the home's worth. These are in addition to mortgage fees and solicitor fees.

Determine whether the property is a freehold, leasehold or commonhold property. In England, a home may be for sale on land that isn't. In this case, you would be purchasing a leasehold property. Though you would own the home, you won't own the land and will have to pay the land owner--the "freeholder"--an annual or monthly fee for the use of the land. Commonhold properties are similar to American condominiums, in which each individual tenant owns a part of the building. For more information, contact The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) at, or call 020-7374-5380.

Arrange for a valuation. A surveyor can conduct the valuation for you. This will determine the value of the house for the mortgage lender.

Secure a mortgage. You can make an offer before or after getting the mortgage, but it's wiser to be sure that you will have the money to buy the property.

Arrange a survey. This isn't the same as a valuation. Rather than determining the worth of the house, a survey will inspect the structure of the home and point out any repairs that need to be taken care of. The same surveyor who performed the home's valuation can do this for you. For a listing of licensed surveyors in England, visit the website

Choose who will take care of the legal legwork. Buying a home in England can be done yourself, but it is complicated. A lawyer or a licensed conveyancer can take care of the paperwork for you. There is no set amount a conveyancer can charge for doing this. Compare rates before choosing one. Licensed conveyancers can searched via the website


  • Once both you and the seller are in agreement on the terms, both need to sign a contract. The contracts will then be exchanged.


  • Signing the contract binds you legally to purchasing the property.

    Beware of "gazumping," a practice in which the seller backs out of the agreement before ownership has changed hands due to receiving a higher offer on the property, but after the original potential buyer spends his own money for the valuation, survey and legal fees. Secure a preapproved mortgage with a lender before house hunting to shorten the time before you can buy, thus lessening the chances of being gazumped.