Buyers guide

Buyers guide

If you’re new to buying, or haven’t done so for a while, here’s our guide to how it all works…


Getting your finance in place

Before you start your property hunt, it’s worth making sure you know what you’re able to borrow. If you don’t have a mortgage adviser, we’d be happy to put you in touch with one. Don’t forget to allow for the cost of any renovations and removals, plus stamp duty (see the current rates here).


Register with us

When you start your search for a property to buy in Bristol and north Somerset, please register with us so we can send you details of properties meeting your criteria as they come to the market.

You can register on this website, or by phone or in person at one of our five offices – at Yate, Bradley Stoke, Portishead, Clevedon and Westbury-on-Trym (find your nearest office). 

If you see a property you like the look of, please call the office handling it with any questions you may have or to book in a viewing.


Don't delay

“Seen a property you like? Don't delay - our clients' properties don't hang around for long!.”

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Instruct a solicitor

Before you make an offer on a property have a solicitor lined up in good time, so that once a sale is agreed, they can start acting for you without delay. A solicitor is needed to carry out all the legal processes (known as ‘conveyancing’) to take an offer to completion.

Finding a good solicitor can make the difference between completing on the purchase of your property and it falling through – and you will more than likely still be left with some legal bills to pay! We have worked with many, many solicitors and will be happy to recommend one to you.


Making an offer

Once you’ve found a property that you like, discuss with us the offer you would like to make. We will ask you to confirm how you intend to fund the purchase of your property and availability of the deposit (usually 10% of purchase price). 

If you need to sell a property in order to fully finance the next one, in most cases you will need to make sure that your property is itself ‘under offer’ before we will accept any offer from you on a purchase property, and we will ask to see the ‘Memorandum of Sale’ for your property.

If you need a mortgage to fully fund your next property, we’ll ask to see your Agreement in Principle (AIP) document from your mortgage lender. If you are buying without a mortgage (known as a ‘cash buyer’) you will also need to provide evidence that you have the finances available.

Once we have your offer and all of the above details, we’ll negotiate between you and the seller until an arrangement is satisfactorily agreed between both parties. Don’t forget that as well as the financial offer, we’ll be advising the seller to consider how many links there are in your chain (the longer the chain, the more likely one of the links will break, making it less attractive than any offers with shorter chains).

Naturally, we’re working on behalf of the seller and we are therefore obliged to maximise the value we achieve for their property. However we also need to make sure our advice to YOU is realistic – after all, a sale will only happen if both parties are satisfied, and a mortgage will only be granted if the offer price is sensible.

Hopefully it won’t be long before an offer is agreed between you and the seller. At this point we will send a ‘Memorandum of Sale’ to your and the seller’s solicitors to confirm the details of the sale. 

here to help

"Need more advice on the buying process? No problem, just call our experienced people any time."
Lucinda Culpin BA(hons) MNAEA MARLA MAPIP, Senior Consultant

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Please remember that in offers aren’t legally binding until contracts have been exchanged several weeks later. As such both either buyer or seller is able to pull out of a sale/purchase – and you may still be liable for your solicitors’ costs up to that point.


The survey

If you need a mortgage to fully finance your purchase, your mortgage lender will arrange for a surveyor to look at the property to ascertain that the price offered is realistic in respect of their loan to you.

You are usually able to upgrade the valuation report to a Homebuyer’s Report which gives more detail on the condition of the property. Sight of this report can be quite a shock for many buyers as the survey often highlights every last defect about the property – even if they are not of material significance. However it is important to remember it is a surveyor’s job to report on a property's condition as accurately as possible and in some cases to point out the worst-case scenario with regards to defects. In our experience, very few properties come to the market completely defect-free, and in many cases the buyers choose to progress with the sale, possibly with some additional negotiation, via us, with the seller.


The mortgage offer

Once your mortgage lender has received the surveyor’s report and is satisfied that the valuation is realistic given the amount they are lending, they will issue a mortgage offer to your solicitor.



From now until exchange, your negotiator at Woods Estate Agents negotiator will regularly contact you and your solicitor, as well as the sellers and their solicitor. They’ll also contact the solicitors of any other people in your chain to ensure all links of the chain keep moving and that it goes through to exchange on time. We’d also recommend that you too stay in regular touch with your solicitor.


Exchange of contracts

Exchanging contracts is an important moment, as it is when the sale/purchase becomes legally binding for both buyer and seller.

You can only exchange once your deposit, (usually 5 or 10% of the purchase price) is cleared to your solicitor’s Client Account. If you are also selling a property, the proceeds of this, less any outstanding mortgage debt, will usually form the deposit on your purchase, and therefore you may not need to actually ‘pay’ any money for the deposit.

Exchange of contracts happens via a phone conversation between both parties’ solicitors, when they agree that they can ‘exchange contracts’. Your solicitor will tell you and us when contracts have been exchanged. It’s a great feeling!

nothing like it

"Getting the keys - it's a great feeling!"
Kathryn Hunter, MNAEA MARLA MAPIP, Manager

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The moment your property purchase is finalised – called ‘completion’ – comes a week or two after exchange. Your solicitor and mortgage lender will transfer the outstanding balance to the seller’s solicitor. 

Your solicitor will be in contact with you when the money has cleared into their account, and we’ll be told we can release keys to you.

Congratulations – time to move in and get the kettle on / champagne open! 


If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.