How To Buy A Home in Clapham Step-By-Step


So you want to buy a house in Clapham? Follow our step-by-step guide to buying a house in one of south London’s most desirable neighbourhoods

If you’re looking to buy property in south London, Clapham is a great choice. Young professionals are drawn to this lively area for its central location, great nightlife, amazing transport links and good choice of flats. But Clapham is perfect for families too. In the heart of ‘nappy valley’, you’ll find plenty of attractive Victorian homes and a wealth of family-focused shops and cafes. Plus, there’s lots of green space, with Clapham, Wandsworth and Tooting Bec commons all close by.

Average house prices in Clapham over the past year have been £860,000, according to Rightmove. Flats sell for an average of just under £600,000 and terraced properties around £1.2 million. While the property boom has seen prices rise over the previous year by 2% – and by 5% since 2018 – these rises have been more modest than elsewhere in London and the UK average.

If you’re serious about your Clapham move, it’s worth getting up to speed with the process of buying a house. To help you we lay out nine key questions you need to ask yourself before you start.

Buying a house checklist

1. Do I want to buy now?

To decide if this is the right time for you, think about your motives for buying – is there a compelling reason to move now, such as a job or school application? Do you need more space? Or are you looking for a London base after a move out of the city during lockdown? Think too about whether you want to buy and sell at the same time and what this will mean for your lifestyle and stress levels.

2. What is my budget?

Work out how much you can afford to put down as a deposit and pay for your monthly mortgage. Remember to take account of all the costs of moving including conveyancing, stamp duty and removals. Research how much you might get for your own property if you have somewhere to sell and look into mortgage deals – you might want advice from a mortgage broker. Assess interest rates and the pros and cons of fixed and variable rates. Then seek an approval in principle for a loan from your preferred mortgage lender.

3. Where do I want to live?

If you’re set on Clapham, that’s a good start. Now you need to narrow down your search to your key neighbourhoods. Think about your budget and your priorities and if certain streets match them – whether good schools, transport links, green space, facilities or the local vibe. Spend as much time as you can in the area, research online forums and talk to friends – or friends of friends, who live close by. Think too about the type of property you’re after – period, modern or new build – and the pros and cons of each choice.

4. What should I think about when viewing properties?

Visit as many properties that match your needs and budget as possible. It’s a big decision and the home has to feel right for you but don’t rule places out on a whim. The key things you need to be looking for and asking about include:

Damp – can be an issue in older properties.

Structural problems – including to the roof and windows.

Storage space – can you fit everything in this house?

Room size and number – is there space to work from home?

Energy performance certificate – the energy efficiency rating will indicate how high the bills are likely to be.

Direction – where rooms and gardens face make a big difference – take a compass.

How is the plumbing – check taps for water pressure.

Is it noisy – check for neighbour noise and bad soundproofing.

5. What should I know about making an offer?

If you’ve found a place you love, and you’re happy about all the issues above, you can make an offer on the property. Remember to stick within your budget and be clear on whether you want it to include any fixtures and fittings. Whether your offer is accepted will depend on how willing your seller is to negotiate – which will depend on their circumstances and how much they need to sell. Currently there’s a supply shortage in the market, but don’t feel rushed into offering more than you are comfortable with.

Remember too that your own position is a factor – if you’re a first time or cash buyer, without a place to sell, you’ll be more attractive to the seller. You’re unlikely to be taken seriously by your seller and their estate agent if you don’t have a buyer for your property or, worse still, your place isn’t on the market yet.

6. How do I find a conveyancer?

Once your offer is accepted you need a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to carry out the legal work and searches necessary to the sale. Shop around, read reviews and ask for recommendations before you commit and don’t necessarily go with the cheapest. Look for someone with experience of properties like yours, if it’s leasehold, for example. Make sure they are around for the next few weeks without holidays booked, if you want a speedy sale.

7. Which survey should I have?

To get your sale moving book your survey as soon as you can. You aren’t legally obliged to have a survey, but it is in your best interests to do so, particularly with an older property. They survey will highlight any structural issues that might affect your decision or be a bargaining tool for a price reduction – if a new roof is required, for example. Surveys come in three levels – condition report, HomeBuyer’s report and full building survey. Costs vary depending on which level you choose and the size and condition of your house. Your mortgage lender will require a valuation survey before they lend on the property – this is not the same as a property survey, you’re advised to have both.

8. What happens at exchange of contracts?

With the survey done and searches complete your conveyancer will agree a dates with your seller for the exchange of contracts. Exchange of contracts means you are legally committed to the sale. You will pay your deposit at this stage – usually 10% of the sale price, so you will need to have this sum ready. You can no longer pull out of the sale without the risk of losing your deposit. You will set a completion date – usually two to four weeks after exchange of contracts. At this stage you need to arrange buildings insurance for the property and book a removals firm.

9. And at completion?

Completion date is when you pay the balance on the property, get your keys and take possession of your new home. If you’re selling too, you will need to vacate your own place on time and in a good clean condition, leaving no belongings behind that weren’t part of the sale. Your solicitor will apply to the Land Registry to transfer the deeds to your name. You’ll settle up your solicitor’s fees and pay the stamp duty on your purchase at the same time.

Find out more

If you’re looking at homes in Clapham or elsewhere in south west London, we’d love to show you our selection of properties and give you more advice about the buying process. Call us today to talk about your plans.