Ten Steps to Buying Your First Home

Cut the worry with our guide to buying a new build property

Buying a home is often said to be one of the most stressful experiences you will have in your life. Buying your first home can seem particularly daunting.

But it doesn’t have to be that way – and with our ten-step checklist, you can ease some of the strain to buying your first step on the property ladder.

Happy Couple In New Home

Our 10 Step Checklist

1. Find out how much you can borrow

The first step is to find out how much you can borrow – which should be linked closely to how much you can afford. It will also be linked to the size of any deposit you may have available – lenders may let you borrow more (and offer you a lower interest rate) if you can pay a bigger percentage of the purchase price up front.

When working out how much you can afford in your monthly repayments, it’s worth finding out what the payments would be if your interest rate jumped by a percentage point or so – even if you’re on a fixed-rate to start with, current low bank rates will not be with us forever.

2. Decide what you want

With so many properties to choose from, you’ll need to think hard about what your priorities are – the mantra “location, location, location” will only get you so far, especially if house prices in your ideal location are beyond your budget.

3. Search for a property online

Once you know what you want, you can start searching – and the internet is tailor-made for this. Most property search websites will let you filter your search by area, number of bedrooms and other key criteria, helping you quickly draw up a shortlist of properties to view.

4. Arrange some viewings

Once you’ve found a few properties you like, it’s time to wear out some shoe leather. If you like a property enough to view it more than once, try and view it at a different time of day the second time – what seemed like a peaceful spot during daylight hours may be totally different at night.

5. Make an offer

It’s when you’re ready to make an offer that the fun – or frustration – really starts. Be prepared to haggle, to be turned down, and to walk away if you have to. And you don’t have to make your dealmaking just about money – some sellers will be prepared to compromise on price for the sake of a quick deal or, conversely, if you’re asked to put in a bigger offer consider asking for counterweights such as white goods, fittings or curtains to be thrown in before agreeing.

And once you have an offer accepted, always ask for the property to be taken off the market immediately – it will reduce your chances of getting gazumped.

6. Apply for your mortgage

Once you’ve had an offer accepted, it’s time to formally apply for a mortgage. This will involve a fair bit of filling in forms and submitting documents, and some nervous waiting while you find out if your application has been accepted. Being honest to your lender from the start will minimise any nail-chewing delays.

7. Solicitors, searches and surveys

More waiting will come once you instruct a solicitor – shop around, because their prices will vary – to take forward the home buying on your behalf.

Your mortgage lender will insist you have a survey done, and it’s worth spending a bit of money on this to get a good one. If there are any problems with the property you’ll want to know in advance – even if it’s just to go back to the seller to negotiate a lower price.

Home Information Packs (HIPs) have reduced a lot of the hassle with searches – your seller will have to have one available to be allowed to put their home on the market.

8. Exchange contracts

Once you and your lender are satisfied the property isn’t going to fall down around your ears, and that it hasn’t been built on a disused mine-shaft, you’ll be ready to exchange contracts. Your solicitor will arrange this, but you’ll need to be involved to sign more forms.

9. Completion date

When you exchange contracts you’ll be able to agree a completion date – and that means you can book a removal van – or make whatever arrangements you need to move in.

10. Move into your new home

On the big day itself, you’ll usually be able to collect the keys to your new home from the selling estate agents once your mortgage lender has paid the necessary funds into the seller’s bank account. And that’s your signal to move in – having successfully bought your new home.

Publish date: 06/05/2016