• Step 1 – Getting started

    Before you start looking for a house, it is important to find out how much you can afford to borrow. To give you an idea, you can use our mortgage calculator, however we strongly recommend that you speak to a mortgage adviser.

    Step 2 – Finding a home

    Viewing properties will take time, but to avoid unnecessary viewings, think about what your ideal first home will look like and where it will be. Also consider a list of the things that you would not be happy with. Most people will compromise on the things that they would like to have but are unwilling to budge on things they definitely do not want in their new home.

    Step 3 – Viewing a property

    It is important that you consider many things before putting in an offer. For instance, visit the place at different times (what might be a peaceful setting in the day, could turn out to be a noisy place at night), speak to the local people to find out what it is like living in the area.

    Never rely on an estate agents photographs when deciding whether to view a property, some agents can take a good photograph whilst others can’t. A better guide to use to ‘see’ the property from an objective perspective is the floor plan.

    Also, look for obvious signs of potential problems (damp, rotten woodwork, cracks in the walls) as you go around the property, even though details will be picked up in the survey. Never be afraid to ask questions if there is anything you are unsure about.

    Step 4 – Making an offer

    When you have found the right house, make sure you put an offer in straight away. Do not be afraid to offer below the asking price. It is important to make an offer ‘subject to survey and contract’ as this allows you to withdraw if you find out anything you have not discovered so far.

    If the offer is accepted, you may need to put down an initial deposit to secure it – although you are not obliged to do so at this stage. We suggest you speak with an expert, and our mortgage advisers can recommend a reliable and competitively priced solicitor. 

    Step 5 – Survey

    You will need to get a valuation and survey carried out on the house you want to buy. A valuation will value the property and tell you how much it is worth, whilst a survey will tell you about the structure of the property and any faults that it may have.

    Step 6 – Legal 

    When buying a property, you should instruct a solicitor to handle all the legal aspects relating to the transaction. It is important to pick a professional and reliable solicitor, as this will help speed up the process and avoid delays. Our expert advisers can help you choose the right one.

    Step 7 – Draft contract

    This is written by the seller’s solicitor and sent to your solicitor. Your solicitor will then check the contract and view the information the title deeds to ensure that the title to the property is satisfactory.

    Step 8 – Mortgage offer

    Once the lender is happy with the valuation, references and credit checks, you will receive a formal offer of mortgage in writing and a copy will be sent to your solicitor. This will contain all of the terms and conditions. Once signed and returned, your offer of finance is in place and you are ready to exchange contracts.

    Step 9 – Exchange of contracts

    The contract is signed by you and the seller, and the deposit you have put aside will be forwarded to the vendor’s solicitors. The completion date is then set. At exchange of contracts you are responsible for insuring the property and therefore must ensure you arrange buildings insurance cover.

    Step 10 – Completion

    This is usually a few days to a few weeks after the exchange of contracts, depending on each party’s personal requirements. The remaining money owed is now transferred from your solicitor’s account to the seller’s solicitor account. On completion day, the legal ends are tied up and you collect the keys and move into your new home.

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