Buying Guide

Buying a home can seem daunting at first, but with the right approach it can be a straightforward process that – if done correctly – will save you thousands of pounds.

And to help you make all the right moves, we’ve created this simple step-by-step guide to buying your new home. So, let’s get started!

1.Research is king

Being prepared is probably the most important thing when starting your home-hunting journey. Research can be the difference between finding the ideal home for you and wasting your time, so be sure to think ahead when scoping your options.

Read newspapers, browse websites and make a note of everything you see. Keep in mind the kinds of properties that catch your eye, while noting any change in asking prices will help you to gain an insight into local housing trends.

2. How much house can you afford?

Generally speaking, a budget of three to five times your household income is a good rule of thumb when placing a 20% down payment on your new property. Having said that, everyone’s financial situation is different and you’re likely to find leeway on that figure either way, depending on any debt you already have and whether you’ve got financial help from the bank of (insert family member here).

What’s important is that you have a good grasp on how much you can afford. While you can’t get a mortgage before you buy, a mortgage in principle will put you in a much stronger position, so be aware of the different types of mortgages available.

Note: If you’re already a homeowner, consider whether to sell your house or flat before you buy. Selling early can be risky, but it will also mean you can act quickly when you find the home for you.

3. Your estate agent

Your estate agent is there to help you throughout the buying process. They’ll act as a friendly face with expert knowledge of the local area and will ensure you’re not consumed with the complexities and jargon often associated with buying a home.

4. Shopping for your home

Take as much time as you need when looking over properties. There’s no rush and you’ll probably end up seeing plenty of houses anyway, so make sure you take notes on each place you see – you won’t remember everything so it’s important to keep a notebook.

Take pictures or videos when touring the house in question, check the water pressure and ensure you use your time in the neighbourhood to gauge what the street’s like.

5. Making an offer

Making an offer is all about working with your real estate agent to negotiate the best deal for you. Take into account the fixtures and fittings within the property, what money you’ll need to do any work on the house and finally, put together an offer.

If your offer is accepted the property will go into escrow, which refers to the period of time it takes to complete the remaining steps.

6. Inspector “Homes”

Although your offer has been accepted, normally offers are contingent on a home inspection of the property in question. This means that upon arranging for a home inspection to be carried out, which will be sorted with the help of your estate agent, you will be protected if you wish to withdraw or renegotiate your offer depending on the inspector’s findings – if there is significant material damage.

Once the inspection is carried out, you and the seller will both receive a report of the inspector’s findings. You can then decide if you wish for more work to be undertaken on the house before you close the sale.

7. Get more for your mortgage

Remember all that research we had you doing in step 1 and 2? Well it’s about to pay off now that you’ve had your offer accepted on your new property. You will have many questions for your mortgage banker and these will be very dependent on plans you have made for the future, and how you would ideally like to pay off your mortgage in the long run.

The bottom line is that you’ll need your mortgage lender to make a formal offer before you can exchange contracts, so it’s crucial you’re fully aware of your financial situation – including having the funds to pay stamp duty.

8. Appraising the property

Your mortgage lender will arrange for an appraisal of the property, meaning they will organise an independent third party valuation of the house you’re buying. This is to ensure all parties know you’re paying a fair price.

9. Exchanging contracts (we’re almost there!)

Thanks for sticking with us this far. You must be serious about buying a new property, which, if you are, will eventually lead you to exchanging contracts with the seller. These contracts legally commit you to buying the property, while legally committing the seller to sell the property to you. Contracts will also include a completion date for the sale, as well as all relevant information regarding your accepted offer.

10. Completing the sale

It’s time to sign off on all the paperwork and pay for your new home. This will involve completing all of the loan documents before they go back to your lender. Once the check is delivered to the seller, it’s time to move into your new home (and live happily ever after).