1. Save for a mortgage deposit
  2. You’ll usually need to build up a deposit of at least 5% of the price of the property you want to buy. But it’s often worth saving more if you can bear to wait longer, as a bigger deposit means you can apply for mortgage deals with lower interest rates. If you're a first-time buyer hoping to buy a property costing up to £450,000, saving into a lifetime Isa will entitle you to a 25% top-up from the government (up to £1,000 a year) on your savings.

  3. Find out how much mortgage you can borrow
  4. The amount a mortgage provider will lend you will depend on various things, including the size of your deposit, your income and credit score.

    If you’re buying a property with other people, the lender will also take their finances into account.

    Remember to budget for the additional costs of buying a property, such as conveyancing, surveys and - depending on the cost of the property and whether you’re a first-time buyer - stamp duty.

  5. Research your chosen area
  6. If you’re exploring towns or neighbourhoods you haven’t lived in before, it can be worth spending a night or two in a local B&B to check out the commute, shops, restaurants, and general atmosphere.

    Even if you’ve lived in the area all your life, it’s important to do some digging on the area you want to buy in before signing on the dotted line.

    Things to look into include:

    • School catchment areas
    • Transport links
    • Local infrastructure plans
    • Flood zones
    • Development applications
    • Crime levels

  7. Apply for a mortgage agreement in principle
  8. A mortgage agreement in principle (AIP) is a confirmation from a mortgage lender that they would, in principle, be willing to lend you a certain amount.

    Having an AIP can make you a more attractive buyer, as it shows the seller and their estate agent that you will be able to secure the amount of money you need to buy the property.

  9. Register with estate agents
  10. Once you’ve chosen the area where you’re interested in buying a home, register with local estate agents in the area. Registering is free and won’t create any obligation on your part.

    Keeping in touch with local estate agents could increase your chances of finding your ideal home.

    Register your details with us and we will send any suitable properties over to you via email, helping you to find a home that suits you best!

  11. View properties in person
  12. You’ll inevitably spend plenty of time browsing Rightmove and Zoopla, but it’s important to view properties in person, as well as online.

    Viewing homes in real life will give you a deeper understanding of their potential and you’ll be able to gauge whether they give you that indescribable ‘feeling’ that you can't really get from a screen.

  13. Make an offer on a house or flat
  14. It’s quite common to offer less than the asking price. But if other people are interested in the property, you may need to offer the asking price or more.

    Looking at how much other, similar properties in the same neighbourhood have recently sold for will help you work out how much the property is worth.

    Once you’ve decided how much to offer, you can tell the estate agent over the phone or in person, but it’s worth putting it in writing too.

  15. Apply for a mortgage
  16. You’ll need to think about what type of mortgage you want to apply for - for example, a fixed-rate mortgage or a tracker - and how long you want to spend paying your mortgage off, known as the mortgage term (25 years is the norm).

    You can see how much your monthly payments would cost based on different interest rates, loan amounts and mortgage terms using a mortgage repayment calculator.

  17. Find a conveyancer or property solicitor
  18. Conveyancing is the legal process that takes place after your offer is accepted. In England and Wales, this includes carrying out searches, drawing up and checking contracts, dealing with the Land Registry and paying any stamp duty.

    You can use a conveyancer - who might not be a qualified solicitor but will definitely specialise in property - or a solicitor, who you should check has recent experience in property law.

  19. Get a property survey
  20. Property surveys help to assess the condition of the building and detect structural problems. Although a survey is optional, it’s better to be aware of any issues before buying so you can make an informed decision on how much to offer and budget for any repair work required.

    Most surveyors provide three ‘levels’ of survey - a condition report, a Home Buyer’s report and a building survey. The cost will depend on the location, size and type of property.

  21. Research removal companies
  22. If you don’t have a lot of furniture to move into your new property, you could hire a removal van yourself. But if you have a lot to move, removal companies can help make the process easier. Removal company costs will depend on the amount of items you need to move and the distance to your new property, among other things.

    Once you’ve found one or two firms you like, check their availability before agreeing a completion date with the seller so you're able to move on the date you agree.

  23. Arrange home insurance
  24. It’s vital that you have buildings insurance in place on your new home from the day you exchange contracts - in fact, most mortgage providers will make this a condition of lending.

    This is because you are legally bound to buy the property from the moment contracts are exchanged, so if the building were to be flooded or burn down before the day of completion and you weren’t insured, you wouldn’t be covered.

  25. Exchange contracts
  26. The exchange of contracts happens when the buyer and seller’s legal representatives swap signed contracts, and the buyer pays the deposit.

    Before the exchange of contracts, you’ll need to have several things prepared in advance, such as a written mortgage offer, an agreed completion date and buildings insurance in place from the day of exchange.

    After you’ve exchanged contracts you can breathe a sigh of relief, as the agreement for you to buy the property is now legally binding.

    The chances of anything falling through from this moment are extremely low.

    Your conveyancer will lodge an interest in the property, enabling you to pay the seller, and apply to the Land Registry to transfer the deeds to your name.

  27. Complete and move in!
  28. Completion often takes place around two weeks after exchange, but this is flexible and you can agree a convenient date with the seller.

    On completion day, the money will be transferred to the seller and you can then collect the keys from the estate agent and move into your new home.

    Next comes the much more enjoyable task of starting to furnish and decorate the property to your taste - and maybe even taking a moment to simply relax. You’ll have earned it!

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