Step by step guide to buying a house

Buying a property, particularly for the first time can be a daunting task. The decisions you make when buying could save you – or cost you – many thousands of pounds. Here’s our step by step guide explaining how to buy a property and the checklist for all the key stages through the buying process.

Is buying a property right for you?

There are a number of things you need to think about before starting your property search – not least whether you can actually afford it.

Should you sell first?

If you already own a property, you need to decide whether you want to sell your property or keep it. Firstly getting a valuation or several from a local agent. This will help you understand what the sale of your property may look like. If you are using the proceeds of the sale from your current property, then you are not deemed as being proceedable if you have not yet obtained a verified offer on your current home. Our expert can help you better understand the process and the best order with a cost of moving appointment.

Deciding on your budget

How much do you want and can afford to spend? Part of our fact finding process, is going over a income and expenditure form, this is used to then approach lenders to help you understand your maximum borrowing ability and what that may cost per month. It is important to understand this before you start viewing properties.

Get your finances in place

Work out how much of a deposit you can get together for the mortgage.

Think about savings, the possibility of a “Gifted” deposit from Mum, Dad, or grandparents. If you were to sell, how much you would get if you put your current home on the market and used the equity from the sale to buy a new property.

While you can’t get a mortgage before you buy, you can get a Agreement in principle, which will allow you and any estate agent your viewing with understand your borrowing ability.

Our inhouse expert Ben can help you with better understanding the steps and how it may look for you. We can scan a wide range of providers across the market. We can help if you have special circumstances such as being self-employed, bad credit or a unique property.

Make an offer – and get it accepted

Make sure you are in the strongest possible position as a buyer. Decide how much you want to pay for that property, looking at past sold prices and understanding the current local market can help.  Make the offer to the estate agent, who will relay this to the seller.

Hopefully your offer will be accepted by the seller.

Arrange a mortgage

Once your offer has been accepted, we will help you fine tune the figures and understand the next steps, ready to then submit the formal mortgage application. Don’t worry this again is something we take care of, part of our service is acting on your behalf to speak, submit and chase the banks/building societies.

Choosing a solicitor or conveyancer

Once you have agreed an offer on the chosen property, you need to get a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal work to transfer ownership of the property to you.  

Your mortgage company might require you to go with one that is on their panel, which might make the decision for you. It is your decision to use the legal expert you wish to use, but we can help recommend potential solicitors.

Having a survey/ valuation done

Your mortgage lender will require a mortgage valuation by a surveyor, to ensure that the property is good enough to lend against. Some lenders offer free valuation but there are options to have more in-depth surveys done if needed.

The aim of a survey is to evaluate the condition of the property and alert you and the lender to any potential problems you may face prior to purchasing.

Exchange contracts

When you exchange contracts with the seller you become legally committed to buying the property – and they are legally committed to selling it to you.

You should only exchange contracts once all the legal work is complete.

Before you exchange contracts, a completion date will have been agreed with the seller.

You can only exchange contracts after the solicitor/conveyancer is satisfied with the searches, enquiries and a formal mortgage offer has been received.

You need to ensure that you take out buildings insurance for the property at this stage. It is usually a condition of the mortgage that you have buildings insurance in place. We can help you arrange this.

Complete the sale

Completion is when you pay for the property and take ownership of it and takes place at a certain time of day.  On the day of completion, the money is transferred, and the deeds of the property are transferred, between each side’s conveyancer.

Take possession of your new home

Take possession of your new home

The seller has to leave the property by the time of completion, and you should then be able to collect the keys, normally from the estate agent.

You are now free to move in.

Pay stamp duty and settle up with the solicitor and conveyancer

In order to complete, your solicitor or conveyancer will have sent you a completion statement, covering all their costs and disbursements, as well as the deposit due and any stamp duty payable. You will need to make arrangements to settle this total sum in order to complete.

Your solicitor or conveyancer will normally pay the stamp duty for you, and ensure that the change of ownership is registered with the land registry.