For most of us, buying a house is the biggest financial transaction of our lives and not one to be undertaken lightly. Fortunately, with some clear expectations of what to expect from the home-buying process, we can plan ahead, avoid the pitfalls and get the best value for money.

Here’s our guide to house buying:

1. Choose a suitable, affordable location

There are many factors that influence where we live. Commute times, schools and being near friends and family are all important considerations. Of course, it’s not as simple as just choosing a postcode and buying a house there – can you afford the area?

Many property portals have information about average house prices in different areas – it’s a good idea to check the prices out and see if you can stretch to the type of property you need. That will give you an idea of how much you need to save for your deposit.

2. Get a “mortgage in principle”

If you think you know roughly how much you’ll need to borrow to buy, say, a three-bedroom house in Hampshire, go to your mortgage broker with details of your income and outgoings, and find out if it would be possible for you to borrow the amount you need.

If you are successful, you’ll be offered a “mortgage in principle.” This will put you in a stronger position when you put in an offer for a house. It will also enable you to move act more quickly after you have put in your offer.

3. View properties and put in an offer

Look for potential homes and go and see what they’re like! Jot down a checklist before you go to a viewing – it will help you to stay focused on your family’s key needs.

Once you’ve found the right house at the right price, put in an offer. You would usually make the offer verbally to the estate agent first, but you should follow it up with written confirmation, which the agent will formally accept in writing.

The agent will take the offer to the seller, who will accept or decline it.

4. Find a conveyancer

A conveyancer is a solicitor who specialises in property. The legal side of house-buying is complicated and most people will need to appoint a conveyancer or solicitor to handle it.

You’ll need to appoint a conveyancer as soon as your offer has been accepted. Your conveyancer will, among other things, check the legalities of the transaction, deal with the local council and the land registry and handle the money.

5. Have the property surveyed

Once your offer has been accepted, you must book a surveyor to survey the property and check its condition. In properties that are less than fifty years old, a homebuyer’s report is usually sufficient. However, if you are buying an older property, a full survey will be required. These cost more, but are usually worth it in the long run – you don’t want any nasty surprises after you’ve moved in.

6. Exchange contracts

You conveyancer and the seller’s conveyancer will draw up contracts which will be exchanged as soon as possible after the offer has been accepted. This is rarely less than two weeks and can be as long as six months, depending on how ready both parties are (this is why it’s worth having a mortgage in principle!).

Once the contracts are exchanged, you pay your deposit for your new house. After this point, you can usually only pull out if you also agree to pay a substantial penalty.

7. Completion

If the sale goes smoothly and no one pulls out, the day will come when all the paperwork is done and the process is complete. This is when you pay the final balance to the seller (a payment handled by the conveyancer/solicitor). The seller then hands over the keys, usually to your estate agent, and you are free to move in.

Buying a house and moving into it is notoriously stressful, but with a good estate agent, conveyancer and mortgage broker, you can keep the stress to a minimum. To find out how we can help you find a mortgage for your next home, book your free, no-obligation consultation today on 0800 612 5596.

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