The path to buying a home may be long and winding, but it needn’t be daunting! So, whether you’re about to clamber onto the ladder for the very first time, or simply need your memory refreshed as to what the process involves, here are the essential steps of purchasing a property.
1. Deposit at the ready!
Have you saved up enough? The deposit is the largest lump sum you’ll pay out, and typically ranges from 5% (available through Help to Buy schemes) and 20% of the overall property price. The greater the deposit, the better chance you’ll have at securing a low-interest mortgage deal.
2. Save for additional expenses
Put some money aside to cover additional costs, such as arrangement and valuation fees, Stamp Duty, solicitor’s fees and survey costs. Zoopla’s useful guide* explains how much these expenses are likely to set you back.
Get your finances in order and set a budget – what can you realistically afford to spend on a house? Along with monthly mortgage repayments, don’t forget to factor in initial costs to move into, furnish and decorate your home; plus regular outgoings, such as council tax, bills, insurance, etc.
4. Get a mortgage in principle
Prove that you’re serious about buying by securing a mortgage in principle from your lender of choice. You don’t have to stick with that lender, but if sellers know you’re able to borrow, they may pick you over a buyer without an agreement in place.
5. The search begins!
Now’s the exciting part! Search for properties on Zoopla* and RightMove*, visit estate agents direct, and keep an eye out for ads from homeowners selling single-handedly. Be open to compromise (it helps in the current climate) – view homes that aren’t your preferred style, or in your preferred location… you might be surprised!
6. Make an offer
Found a house you love? Make an offer! Go in lower than the asking price, justifying your reasons if possible. If you’re a first-time buyer, make sure the estate agent is aware of your position as it could work in your favour. If your initial offer is rejected, try again, but don’t bust your budget.
(Offer accepted? Hurrah! But don’t pop the cork just yet, as there’s still a chance that everything might fall through. Keep a cool head – you’re almost there…)
7. Sort a mortgage
Scour the market for the best mortgage deal. You can carry on the application of your mortgage in principle, but if it’s over 30 days old then it’s probably expired. Given that mortgage deals change daily, it could be a good idea to summon the help of an independent adviser.
Your mortgage provider will carry out a property valuation to ensure they’ll be able to get their money back if you fail to make payments. This service often costs, though there are some providers that offer it as part of the package.
9. Arrange a home survey
Home surveys are offered in three levels: a condition report, a homebuyer report, and a buildings survey. A condition report is more suited to new builds and tend to be the cheapest option, while a buildings survey is more comprehensive and is recommend for old or unusual homes, or homes in areas prone to flooding or subsidence.
10. Find a solicitor
Now you need to locate a reputable solicitor who will help to get the purchase through, creating a legal record of the transaction and handling the transfer of funds. They will act as your legal advisor and can help with things like Stamp Duty payments.
11. Exchange of contracts
The conditions of the property transfer will be put into writing once your solicitor has liaised with the seller’s legal representative. When these are agreed, the contracts will be exchanged, legally binding you and the seller to following through with the purchase.
You’re now officially a homeowner – congratulations! All the paperwork will be complete, so all you need to think about is collecting the keys to your new house. Oh, and there’s also the small matter of moving all your stuff in!
13. Review your cover
TV Licence? Check. Broadband? Check. Building insurance? Check. But have you reviewed your home insurance? And what about your life cover? This is important if you’ve moved into a more expensive home and taken on more debt. Let your provider know straight away, as you don’t want your spouse having to deal with a shortfall if something unexpected happened.
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