We know the process of purchasing a house can be quite daunting, especially if you’re a first time buyer (and honestly, it’s still quite daunting even if you’ve done it a few times). So, before you start, let’s sort the facts from the fiction and give you a simple step by step guide on how to buy the house of your dreams.
Step 1: Save a deposit for a mortgage
The more money you have to put down as a deposit, the better. Having a bigger deposit means you can apply for mortgage deals with lower interest rates. Try and save at least 5% of the price of the kind of house you want to own.
Step 2: Work out your budget
Before you start looking for a house, be realistic about what you can afford. Ask yourself some tough questions, what happens if my financial situation changes, or what if interest rates rise? This shouldn’t put you off but it does mean you won’t overstretch yourself if you answer honestly.
Step 3: Get a mortgage offer in principle
While you can’t get a mortgage before you’ve even found a house, you can think about getting an ‘agreement in principle’ (AIP). This can help speed up the home-buying process as you’ll have an idea of how much you can borrow and it gives the seller and estate agent confidence that you’re serious about the purchase.
It will also help to make sure you know what kind of mortgage you want to apply for. A fixed rate mortgage or a tracker are a few examples. Also consider how long you want to spend paying it off.
Your lender will be able to advise you and we can support you with your mortgage decision through our trusted partners Assured Mortgage Advice.
Step 4: Start house hunting
Once you’ve decided how much you’re going to spend, and whether you can afford it, you can start on the fun bit! Register with us, it’s free, and it will increase your chance of finding the perfect place as we often contact registered buyers before listing a property online.
Step 5: Make an offer
Congratulations! You’ve fallen in love with a house, now you need to make an offer. There are no fees to pay as the buyer so talk to your estate agent about the best price you’re willing to pay and seal the deal. Don’t forget to think about fixtures and fittings in your offer and you can pay a small holding deposit of £500 or £1000 to show you are serious. Don’t worry, if the sale falls through you will get it back.
Step 6: Find a solicitor and surveyor
The solicitor will handle the legal work in transferring the property ownership over to you, which includes carrying out searches, drawing up and checking contracts, dealing with the land registry and paying stamp duty.
The surveyor will survey the property to check for problems like structural issues and the condition of the building that may affect the cost of your new home. Although a survey is optional, it’s better to know up front if there are any problems because if you’re determined to buy that house, it may help you negotiate the price down or ask the seller to fix the problems the surveyor found.
If you don’t know any solicitors or surveyors, we can help. Just ask.
Step 7: Apply for a mortgage
Having been prepared with your AIP, go back to your mortgage company or lender with your agreed offer and complete the process. There is usually an arrangement fee to pay which can be added to your mortgage, but if you do, bear in mind you’ll pay interest on it for the life of the mortgage.
Step 8: Exchange contracts
At this point everything is coming together. Your solicitor/conveyancer is satisfied with the searches, a formal mortgage offer has been received, your deposit has been handed over and you’ve agreed a completion date. If you’re here, then you are legally committed to buying the property as is the seller to selling it to you. All that’s left to do is exchange contracts.
Step 9: Complete the purchase and move in!
Completion is when you take ownership of the property, which is when you pay stamp duty and settle up with the conveyancer or solicitor. If you need help calculating your stamp duty then see our stamp duty calculator. When that’s done, the keys are yours and it’s a great feeling! You can relax a bit before you start the process of moving in!