Buying a house is complicated, but extremely satisfying if you get it right. Knowing what to expect and how to go about it the right way is crucial. Here is what you need to know
Put money aside for a deposit
The more of your own money you can put into the purchase, the better your mortgage options will be:
• You should be able to borrow more
• You should be able to secure a better interest rate
Work out your budget
Viewing properties without a clear idea of your budget is a recipe for disappointment and wasted time. Remember that there are a whole range of costs to consider, over and above the cost of the property itself, including:
• Stamp duty
• Land registry fees
• Mortgage fees
The precise figure depends on the cost of the property itself to an extent, but it is certainly prudent to set aside somewhere between £2,000 and £5,000 to cover these one-off expenses.
Get a mortgage agreed in principle
Before you even look at properties, it can be an idea to find a suitable mortgage deal and put in an application. The lender will then take you through an application process, to work out how much you can borrow.
You won't have to borrow the money immediately, but if your application is accepted, you will have the security of knowing the money is there as and when you need it.
Start looking for the ideal property
It is vital to get a feel for the local market, especially if you are moving to a new area. Speak to local residents and estate agents to find out things like:
• Which are the desirable neighbourhoods?
• What are you likely to get for your money, and what represents a bargain?
This will give you a good idea of where to look based on your needs and your budget.
Before you commit to buying, viewing is a must.
Before you arrange viewings, however, request Home Information Packs (HIPs), which will provide some basic information about each property before you see them. A seller must make a HIP available before the property can go on the market.
Viewing a property is your opportunity to get a feel for the place and look out for any potential problems. For instance:
• Find out what fixtures and fittings the seller plans to leave behind. What is included in the sale price?
• Look closely at the layout. Are the rooms big enough？
• Ask about the state and age of things like central heating, plumbing and electrics.
• Look for big cracks in the exterior walls, which could suggest a serious structural problem.
Make an offer
If you are convinced that you have found the right property, it is time to start the negotiation process. The first step is to make an offer.
Appoint a solicitor
It is vital that you use a qualified conveyancer to look after the legal side of your house purchase.
Some estate agents will offer to appoint one for you, but resist and appoint your own. Ask friends and family for recommendations as a good solicitor can be the difference between a smooth and a stressful purchase.
Your solicitor will manage the drawing up of a "contract of sale" in negotiation with the seller's solicitor once any issues and enquiries have been dealt with.
This is the day that the seller must finally vacate the property, your funds are transferred to the seller (your solicitor will handle this) and you get your hands on the keys and the title deeds for the property.
With this all done, you will officially be the new owner of the property (or the leasehold): congratulations!