How to buy your home

The step-by-step buying process explained

The process of buying a home can seem complex and intimidating, but once you understand the steps involved, it’s surprisingly straightforward.

Step one: Set your budget

In most cases, your budget will be determined by how much a mortgage provider will lend you. You can find this out by contacting several providers directly or speaking to a broker, which many people find easier. You might want to get a ‘mortgage in principle’ from a provider, stating how much they would theoretically lend you.

If you’re taking advantage of a government scheme, such as Help to Buy, you can also factor in the assistance you’ll receive from this.

Step two: Define your criteria

Make a list of the features you’re looking for in a home. Start with the basics, such as how many bedrooms you need, and requirements you consider essential, such as a garden or garage. Consider whether you’re looking for a newly built property or an older one.

Decide on which area or areas you’ll search in. Look at property prices in different areas, as well as transport links, local amenities, and the type of community that would suit you.

Step three: Start house hunting

Now that you know what you’re looking for and where, you can start your search. Using a property listing website, you can identify properties based on the criteria you have defined.

You’ll want to see several properties for comparison purposes before deciding on one to move forward with.

Step four: Gather information

Once you’ve found a property you like, start your investigative work:

  • Arrange several viewings so that you can see it in the daytime, in the evening and at the weekend, forming a complete picture of what it would be like to live there
  • Invite a friend or family member to join you for a viewing, to get their opinion
  • Walk around the local area to see what you like and dislike
  • Do some research online to find out as much as you can about the community

Step five: Make an offer

Once you’re sure you’ve found the right property, you can make an offer. This doesn’t have to be the asking price and should accurately reflect what you think the property is worth. If your offer isn’t accepted, you can enter negotiations, or you can go back to step three and look at other properties.

Step six: Apply for a mortgage

After your offer is accepted, you’ll need to make your mortgage application. Many people choose to go through a broker, to save time on researching the best deals and make sure they have access to mortgages that aren’t necessarily available publicly.

Step seven: Commission a survey

It’s not compulsory, but it is sensible to organise a survey of the property. The most popular type of survey is a Homebuyer report, costing upwards of £450. This will help you to identify any issues that decrease the value of the property or make it unsafe to live in.

Step eight: Hand over to your solicitor

The remaining work will mostly be conducted by your solicitor or conveyancer. They will conduct all the necessary searches, draw up your paperwork, and keep your purchase moving.

Step nine: Plan your move

Once the date of completion has been set, you can start making arrangements. For example, you’ll need to start packing, book your removals company, arrange the transfer of your utilities, and redirect your mail.

Step ten: Exchange contracts

With your mortgage in place and the legal work complete, you’ll be able to exchange contracts with the seller. You’ll also pay your deposit to your solicitor at this time. Your sale is now considered final, and you’ll lose your deposit if you withdraw.

Finally: Complete and move in

To complete the process, your solicitor will transfer the total cost of the property to the seller. At this point, you’ll pay your solicitors fees and any other final costs, such as stamp duty. Now, you’re ready to move in and enjoy your new home.

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