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Buying & Selling Guide


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Norman Devlin Property Consultants & Surveyors Offers Advice on Buying Your Dream Home

We all buy things on a regular, perhaps daily basis but buying your home is probably the largest purchase you are ever going to make. Currently with more affordable asking prices, now is certainly a good time to consider making that purchase of a lifetime:- your dream home. The thought of the process can be more than a little daunting.

Check out our tips which will guide you through this process step by step.


The first step to consider when buying a property is finance. Most house purchases require a mortgage. However, there are many different types of mortgage and they all vary depending on individual circumstances. So the questions to consider are; -

  • How much can I afford to borrow?
  • How much of a deposit do I need to put down with my mortgage?
  • What type of mortgage best suits me?
  • What will the monthly repayments be?

In order to answer these questions properly it is important for you to contact us and we can arrange an appointment with our financial advisor.

They will be able to advise about suitable mortgage products available for you based on your personal financial circumstances.

This will make you aware of what you can afford to pay for a property and therefore refine your search to a suitable price bracket.


Now you know what you can afford financially you can start looking. As there are so many different types of property it would be best to clarify your particular requirements, E.g. location, number of bedrooms, size of property, garage, gardens. This again will help refine your search. Once you have decided on your requirements, you can contact the various agents in the area you wish to live in who will be delighted to help you find your dream property. Property websites have also become a powerful tool to assist you in your search.

Be Prepared

Be prepared to view your prospective property as soon as possible. The chances are the property is in demand and you will therefore be competing with other buyers. When viewing try to remain objective and look past the cosmetic features, which can be easily changed to meet individual requirements, and concentrate on the major elements of the property, i.e. structure, size etc. ( Some people like to bring a friend or someone experienced in construction with them when viewing - they can help you view objectively. Depending on their experience, they may also be able to point out areas of concern with the property you may not have noticed).

If you find a property you like it may be a good idea to speak to your mortgage advisor and get a mortgage agreed in principle. This will mean that if and when you decide to place an offer it is likely to be more attractive to the vendor (seller) who may want a quick and easy sale.

While not essential at this stage, you could also now appoint a solicitor . It is important to find someone you trust as they will be employed to protect your interests throughout the conveyancing process (legal transfer from seller to buyer). They can also advise you on making your offer and ensure completion is speedy if the purchase goes ahead. It is important to clarify the issue of fees with your appointed solicitor so that you do not have an unexpected bill at the end of the conveyancing process.


When considering making an offer it is important to seek advice from the estate agent, solicitor and/or financial advisor. The price the seller is asking is not always the price they will accept; it may be higher or lower and it is important to consider all aspects. There may also be existing offers from other interested parties. The Estate Agent is not obliged to contact you simply because you have shown some interest or even viewed the property; they must only contact you if you have placed an offer on the property. If you are really interested in the property, it is very important not to delay placing an offer with the Estate Agent selling the property. Your offer will be confirmed to the vendor in writing. You will be notified by the Estate Agent if your offer has been accepted and if others are also bidding, you may have to place a number of higher offers until the bidding stops.

If your offer is accepted by the seller, the agent will then complete a sales advice note and send letters to all the involved parties and solicitors for the buyer and seller informing them of the sales details. The agent will in many cases also collect a holding fee from you at the point of sale agreement; this holding fee (sometimes called a deposit) is fully refundable up until the point of signing the contract.

Important Points to Remember…

The Estate Agent is legally required to inform the vendor (seller) of any offers received after the sale has been agreed right up until the point the contracts are signed. The vendor is well within his legal rights to accept a higher or more appealing offer until that point. It is therefore very important to ensure you keep in touch with your solicitor throughout the process to ensure a swift conclusion to the transaction.


After sale agreement you need to advise your financial advisor of the agreed sale and the terms of agreement. At this point a survey should take place as soon as possible. Your mortgage lender will in most cases automatically instruct a surveyor of their choice to value the property as security against your mortgage. However, if you wish to get a more detailed survey which looks at the structural elements of the property, then now is the time to do it. These surveys are more expensive and can take some time but they can show up major defects such as damp or subsidence. If problems do show up you can re-negotiate your offer.


After satisfactory surveys have been completed and your mortgage offer has been received in writing, the solicitors can process the contract for both parties (vendor and purchaser). A completion date will be agreed and monies will transfer to your solicitor who will forward them to the vendors' solicitor. Contracts are legally binding so make sure you are 100% ready to sign. When all monies are received and the sale is completed, keys can be released by the agent and you can begin the moving process. Be sure to transfer your house insurance, utilities, post etc as soon as possible. All that remains is for you to make the most of your new home and live your dream!

What can you do now to bring you closer to buying your dream home?

  • If you have any queries or questions about purchasing a property, we would be delighted to discuss these with you.
  • If you wish to be placed on our free mailing please forward us your details.
  • If you wish to speak to our independent financial advisor please contact us to arrange an appointment.
  • If you need a survey carried out please feel free to ask us.

Contact us at Norman Devlin Property Consultants & Surveyors on 028 8676 2500, e- mail is info@normandevlin.com.


Click here to view our buying advice

Norman Devlin Property Consultants & Surveyors Offers Advice on Selling Your Beautiful Home

Selling your home is a major decision in anyone's life so it is important that you get things right from the start. There are many reasons for selling; it could be upsizing to a larger family home, down sizing to a smaller property when kids leave home or selling an investment property to release capital. Whatever the reason, your aim is to get the best price possible for your property.

Here are a few handy tips, without involving massive expense or effort, to help you sell your property by attracting the maximum amount of interest to get you the highest price possible.

Preparing Your Home for Sale

First Impressions Count

As in all of life, first impressions count. It is no different when selling your house.

There are suggestions that potential purchasers form opinions on properties within the first few minutes of viewing them. Therefore it is imperative that the first impression is a positive one. Your Estate Agent can give you some tips about this.

A positive first impression can be created by keeping the property clean and tidy, both internally and externally. Even before entering the property or when entering the hallway, a buyers mind is often made up. It is often said the hallway is the most important room within the house to have prepared for viewers entering your home. Consider personal touches such as the aroma from a vase of fresh flowers on a hall table, this can create a real sense of welcome for viewers immediately they enter your home.


It is important to keep the outside of the property well maintained and in good condition. The garden should be kept neat and well tended and the paint work of the property including walls, windows, doors, gates, railings etc all kept maintained, the addition of window boxes and/or hanging baskets is often a nice touch.


Internally the property should also be kept well maintained, neat and tidy so that the viewer can see the property at its full potential. If necessary, rearrange the rooms or put furniture in storage to create the illusion of more space. Where possible, remove personal items such as photographs or keepsakes as well as de-cluttering your home from newspapers, toys, magazines etc as these can all distract potential purchasers.

Although expensive and not usually necessary, some people go to greater lengths and purchase some new pieces of furniture for the sale, perhaps furniture they wish to have for their new home. We have one client we sold a house for, who, just before the sale, moved in borrowed furniture and ornaments, he also bought some new lamps and other personal touches, the effect was amazing and the end price achieved in a very short time was also amazing!

Think about little luxuries you would love to find in a house you're viewing. Appeal to all five of your viewer's senses. A pot of freshly brewed coffee, the smell of fresh baking or fresh flowers and fruit will immediately grab their attention. It is important to keep your property illuminated and fresh. A light airy property will feel spacious and bright. Help the viewer imagine living there, make your property really attractive.

One final point and often overlooked, the property should be kept at an ambient temperature, neither too hot nor cold.


It is a good idea to complete any small repair jobs around the house such as; replacing broken or chipped tiles, patch holes in walls, fix any plumbing issues, fix doors that don't close properly, consider re-painting walls in bright neutral colours to freshen up, replace light bulbs, hang up fresh towels etc. All of these minor jobs will ensure that the buyer leaves with a positive and lasting impression.


While pets may be your pride and joy, to others they are often very off-putting and should be kept out of the property during viewings. Remember to deal with pet smells sensitively.

Choose an Estate Agent

Your want an Estate Agent who will make the selling process as stress free as possible for you. Their job is to value your property correctly, find the right buyer and get the maximum price possible.

You need to choose your agent carefully. Pick someone who is very familiar with the area. Ask friends, relatives or neighbours for personal recommendations about agents in your area. Find someone who is well established and above all, trustworthy. Do not fall into the trap of choosing your agent on fees alone; choose an agent who will work hard on your behalf to achieve the best price possible in the shortest possible time. Consider the "What-If's". What if there is a problem between sale agreed and a successful conclusion. Listen for their experience and how they solved a similar problem quickly. Choose wisely and you'll never regret using their services. Always look for marks of professionalism such as Membership of National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) or Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Your Estate Agent will need to take particulars of your property together with internal and external photographs in-order to prepare a brochure for your approval.

Make sure they also send out their Terms and Conditions giving you clear information regarding fees etc as this is a legal requirement. You must also present the agent with identification under the Money Laundering Regulations. Your agent should also advise the legal requirement to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) carried out prior to commencing marketing your property.

Price Correctly

It is important to be realistic about the value of your property. Pricing too high or too low both will make your property undesirable. If you list too high you may scare off potential purchasers. When you get a property valuation the Estate Agent will assess your home and advise you of its achievable market value.

Once you approve the brochure, it should be placed in the agent's window and on their website, a "For Sale" board erected and a mail shot done by the agent matching potential buyers with your home.

Your agent should ensure it is advertised properly in order to obtain the maximum amount of interest. The main advertising tools are the 'For Sale' board and the website. Make sure the sale board is clear, eye catching and visible to passers by from all directions. The 'For Sale' board not only alerts people to the fact that your property is for sale but it also makes it easier to find. The Estate Agent will advise you about advertising on various websites as the increased use of the internet will increase the publicity of your property and they should arrange this for you.

Local press advertising is also a good option and can be arranged by the agent.


In most cases, the Estate Agent will carry out the viewings on your behalf. Make sure you are flexible with your viewing times, your agent will ring and arrange a mutually convenient time to suit all parties involved. You don't want to deter interested parties with inflexible viewing times– it will seem that you are not truly interested in selling your property. The best option is to give a set of keys to your agent even if you are still living in the property. That way you can arrange to leave the property prior to the arrival of the viewing party.


Your Estate Agent will advise you of any offers received and the conditions attached to the offers e.g. if the bidders have a house to sell or are in a chain, first time buyers, cash offer or subject to mortgage etc. This information will help you make informed decisions.

If more than one party makes an offer, a bidding situation is likely to develop and the agent will continue with that process until bidding has stopped.

The Estate Agent is legally obliged to send out all offers in writing to you, this will ensure you are fully aware of all offers and further help you in your decision making process on selling your home.

If an offer is placed on your property it is important to respond quickly so the agent can let the interested party know where they stand.


Once you are happy with an offer, you can instruct your agent to accept. The agent will then complete a sales advice note and send letters to all the involved parties informing them of the sales details. The agent will in many cases also collect a holding fee from the purchaser at the point of sale agreement; this holding fee (sometimes called a deposit) is fully refundable up until the point of signing the contract. Your appointed solicitor will then draw up the contract. The buyer's mortgage company will contact your agent to gain access for their appointed surveyor to inspect and value the property for lending purposes. Once all legal matters have been dealt with, both the buyer and seller will sign the contract. A completion date will be agreed and on or before the date of completion, the balance monies will transfer to your solicitor. Contracts are legally binding so make sure you are 100% ready to sign. When all monies are received and the sale is completed, keys can be released.

What can you do now to bring you closer to selling your home?

If you have any queries or questions about selling a property, we would be delighted to discuss these with you (without any obligation on your part.)

To receive brochures on properties just on the market matching your requirements, please ask to be put on our free property mailing list and forward us your details immediately.

When it comes to getting financial advice our independent financial advisor is ready to speak to you, go ahead and contact us to arrange an appointment.

We have many years of experience surveying properties. Take the worry out of this situation and get the advice your need right now by calling our office.

If you wish us to rent or rent and manage your property, we would be delighted to do this for you.

Contact us at Norman Devlin Property Consultants & Surveyors on 028 8676 2500, e- mail is info@normandevlin.com.

If you've got an important question about selling your home you'd like answered then email me, keith@normandevlin.com.

This is a confidential service and I will reply to you within 72 hours of receiving your request.

028 8676 2500
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Norman Devlin Property Consultants & Surveyors | 18 Oldtown Street, Cookstown, BT80 8EF
028 8676 2500 | Fax: 028 8676 3848