Purchasing a property, whether it’s your first or your 15th, is complex and often confusing. So we’ve broken it down into a simple step-by-step guide to help you understand the process of buying a home.
1. Determine your budget
The first step in the process of buying a home is to work out what you can afford. Decide what size deposit you can put down – taking into account other costs involved, like conveyancing fees and stamp duty. Speak to a mortgage broker or financial advisor and obtain a mortgage in principle, to get an idea of how much you can borrow. This will help you determine your budget.
2. Go house-hunting
Research homes within your budget, decide where you want to live and draw up a list of non-negotiables, as well as what you’d compromise on. Let local estate agents know you’re looking – even if they have nothing suitable straight away, they’ll let you know when a home comes up, sometimes before it’s hit the open market.
3. Get your offer accepted
When you’ve found a house you want to buy, make your offer in writing – it’s a good idea to phone the estate agent then follow up with an email. State your position, such as whether you’re a first-time buyer or if you have a property to sell. Be prepared to negotiate and have a clear idea of how much you’re prepared to pay.
4. Apply for a mortgage
The next step is to apply for your mortgage. You can go directly to the lender to do this, or use a mortgage broker who may be able to help you find a better deal. Consider whether to take out other policies such as life insurance at this stage.
5. Appoint a solicitor or conveyancer
A solicitor or conveyancer handles the legal side of buying a home, and it’s a good idea to get them in place early. Shop around to find the best service and to compare quotes. Once you’ve hired them, the next step is usually to instruct them to carry out Local Authority searches to check there is nothing majorly wrong with the property.
6. Book a survey
You don’t have to book a survey, but it’s a good idea to instruct an independent surveyor to assess the property. There are different types of survey, so research the costs and get a range of quotes. Don’t confuse a house survey with a mortgage valuation though, which is done by the lender to check they are happy to lend against the property.
7. Exchange contracts
Once all the legal processes have been carried out, you can exchange contracts. This is the point at which you pay the deposit and become legally committed to the purchase. You’ll be responsible for the property from this point on so make sure you have buildings insurance in place already.
8. Complete the purchase
Completion is when ownership of the home transfers to you, usually two to four weeks after contracts are exchanged. Once the transaction has taken place on completion day, you’ll be able to collect the keys to your new home. Congratulations!