How to Buy Your First Home

Do you want to buy your first home but don’t know where to get started? There is no shame in not knowing what to do when it comes to buying a property.

Here is a rundown of the house-buying journey to guide you along the way.

Talk with a mortgage advisor

Before you start viewing homes, you need to determine how much you can afford to borrow from the bank for a mortgage and the size of deposit you need. Speaking with a mortgage advisor will help to establish this. Whilst you can do this yourself, as a first-time buyer it is advisable to enlist the services of a professional to save time and stress.

Once you know the type of property you can afford, your advisor will be able to help you get a mortgage in principle. This is an indication from banks as to how much you can borrow and can be shown to estate agents to demonstrate your ability to buy a home. Having this will make you a more attractive buyer.

It is worth noting that a mortgage in principle only lasts for a certain amount of time and will then require renewal, so don’t get one too far in advance.

View homes

Now you have your mortgage in principle, it is time to start viewings. You will likely already have a rough idea as to the type of property you would like, however, make sure to keep an open mind and view a range of homes from new houses to older properties.

If possible, book multiple viewings on the same day or across the same week. This way, you can make better direct comparisons between different options.

Make sure to take a list of questions with you to ask about the property whilst you are there.

Make an offer

Once you find a home you like, it is now time to put in an offer. To do this you should contact the seller’s estate agent.

Before submitting your offer, consider whether you want to offer below, on, or above the asking price. This will depend on the state of the market and how long the property has been listed.

When making your offer, make sure the estate agent is aware of your position, as a first-time buyer, not part of a chain, with a mortgage in principle in place, you are particularly desirable to those wanting a quicker sale.

Contracts and searches

If your offer is accepted (congrats!) you will now move onto the pre-contract stage of the process. This involves several elements:

Mortgage offer – now your offer has been accepted, your mortgage advisor will help you to turn your mortgage in principle into a formal mortgage offer. This will entail your chosen lender doing their own independent valuation of the house. This should all be managed by your mortgage advisor.

Contracts and searches – you first need to appoint a conveyancing solicitor, someone who will handle all the legal aspects of the purchase. They will then begin drafting the contract between yourself and the seller, as well as conducting local searches to determine whether any local factors such as outstanding planning permissions are going to affect the property.

Survey – As well as local searches arranged by your solicitor, you should have an independent building surveyor assess the property. They will then provide a report on the property’s condition and whether there are any problems. If major issues are flagged, you can either pull out of the sale or use them as leverage to get a reduced price.

Exchange and completion

Once all searches and surveys are complete, it is now time to exchange and sign contracts. Once this is complete, you will transfer your deposit to your solicitor.

From this point, the exchange is legally binding.

Moving in

It is now finally time to get the keys and move into your new home!

You must remember to get home and life insurance now to protect yourself. Anything else required from you such as potential stamp duty payment will be advised by your solicitor.

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