Congratulations, you’re thinking of buying your first home! It’s a huge and exciting step that happens in your adult life. However, the process of purchasing your own home can feel a bit daunting and, unfortunately, it’s easy for mistakes to be made along the way.
That’s why we’ve created this quick guide to the home buying process to help you along the way.
1. Determine Your Budget
One of the first steps in the buying process is working out how much you can afford to spend.
Establish your budget. An ideal deposit would be at least 10% of the purchase price of a house.
You also need to factor in a range of additional costs like solicitor fees, mortgage fees, survey costs, buildings insurance, and stamp duty. However, don’t stress about these – we are here to help if you support with the add-ons.
Next, look at getting a mortgage in principle. This is how you find out what you can afford and how much you can borrow.
You can get this directly from a bank, or from a mortgage advisor who would have an array of deals across the market. They have access to lenders that you may not be able to find yourself and can help guide you through the minefield that is the mortgage market.
Top tip: Use a mortgage advisor and we would be happy to recommend one to you. They’ll help you understand what your budget is, organize the documents you’ll need, find a suitable deal, and apply on your behalf.
Read our blog ‘The Benefits of Speaking to A Mortgage Advisor’ here for more information.
2. Register Your Details
Once you know how much you can afford, you can start your property search.
Using property portals such as Rightmove, you can look for properties in your desired areas and add filters, such as your maximum price, type of property, and minimum bedrooms needed.
While looking online is useful, there’s nothing as valuable as sitting down with an estate agent and discussing exactly what you’re looking for and what you want to pay. Take advantage of the estate agents in your desired location – they are there to make your buying process as simple and as smooth as possible. Call around and register your details with multiple agents, who can then send you properties that match your search criteria.
There’s no time like the present, so start your property search now. There is no right or wrong way to view a house as it all comes down to personal preference, so enjoy the process and weigh up your options.
Top Tip: Make sure you ask the important questions on your viewings. The answers may affect the decisions you make!
3. Offering on a Property
After viewing a property that you love, it’s time to make an offer. Each property’s asking price may be stated as ‘fixed price’, ‘offers over’, and ‘offers in the region of’. These terms have different meanings and will influence the offer that you make. Just remember that ‘offers over’ means that the seller is expecting this price as a minimum.
Think carefully about what you would be willing to pay. Make an offer that is realistic, within your budget and makes you look like a serious buyer.
It’s always a risk offering too low, as you don’t want to offend a homeowner, but equally going too high won’t benefit you either. Remember, your dedicated estate agent will be on hand to guide you through the process.
Top Tip: Make your position known to the estate agents selling your desired property. Being a first-time-buyer means that you don’t come with a chain of houses that you are dependent on selling first, making you an ideal candidate.
Your offer has been accepted? Amazing! There’s just a few more steps…
4. Appoint a solicitor
Once you’ve had your offer accepted and confirmed your mortgage, it’s time to think about who you want to handle the legal side of the process. In summary, your conveyancer will carry out legal transaction where the ownership of a property is transferred from the homeowner to you on your behalf. This role is critical to keeping your house purchase on track.
Finding a suitable solicitor is important as their knowledge and legal expertise is essential for your buying process. A good solicitor will keep you regularly informed and updated during your journey, and will be able to answer any questions along the way.
As a first-time buyer, it’s important to work with a team of professionals who you can rely on and who can explain things to you in a way that you understand.
Top Tip: Use a solicitor that has been recommended to you rather than finding your own, they tend to be more efficient in getting the job done.
5. Get a survey
It’s survey time. A survey isn’t compulsory, but it’s usually advisable, especially for your first home. If you don’t get one and you come across unforeseen structural issues once you’ve bought the property, it would just be hard luck.
There are two types of survey you should be aware of: a valuation survey and a homebuyer’s survey – which one you need can sometimes be dependent on your lender. Usually, a homebuyer’s survey may be needed if you are buying an older property that requires work. Once a satisfactory survey has been carried out, the lender should then approve your mortgage offer.
6. Arrange buildings insurance
How important is buildings insurance? It’s advised to arrange home and contents insurance for the agreed exchange date, as this is when you will become the legal owner of the property, even if your completion day is on a different day.
If anything that happens to the property in between that time, you would be liable.
By arranging buildings insurance ahead of time, in the unlikely event of an accident such as theft or fire, you know that you will be protected.
7. Next steps
As the excitement builds, so too will the workload of buying a new property. There are still a couple of small tasks that need to be completed before you are ready to move into your new home.
Be prepared to answer questions from the seller’s solicitor or your lender in order to assist in speeding up the process up to completion.
You will also need to make arrangements for the switch over of utilities, council tax, and any paid-for TV services. Bear in mind that you will need a meter reading for the utility suppliers, so don’t forget this step when you first move in!
Another simple step which can often be overlooked is to make sure you have notified the necessary people of your change of address.
You’re almost there! When your solicitor and the seller’s solicitor swap signed copies of the contract, you’ve exchanged contacts. Time to put the champagne on ice and celebrate, you’re close to complete on your first home.
8. Completion Day
Completion usually takes place shortly after you’ve exchanged contracts.
When the monies are received by your seller’s solicitor, your agent will be notified, which is when they are allowed to release the keys to you.
You did it! You’re now officially a homeowner – your hard work has paid off. Collect the keys from the estate agent and let yourself in!
If you’re planning to buy your first property and want further advice, you can register your details with us by getting in touch.