1. Source Finance

Find out what you can afford, you might be surprised at what you can buy.  Shop around, speak to a number of lenders, brokers – different institutions will offer different mortgage products, so don’t limit yourself to just one option.  Crucially, this will enable you to be armed and ready to go when you find the right property for you. Most agents will ask to see proof of ability to buy if you are successful in a purchase.  If you haven’t started this process this can be time consuming and risk endangering a sale or purchase.

2. View Properties

You might find the first house you look at is the property for you, but get out and view different property types. Get a handle on prices and locations in the areas your viewing. Decide if you are able/willing to do work or not. Often the best buys are the properties that maybe need a level of work or maybe don’t photograph or present well, so these properties should not be overlooked.  Once you fine tune what you want and get a handle on values, you will be in a more informed position to know what to bid.

3. Offer

This can a be a scary process, but the more research you have done the more armed you will be on what to offer. Try to decide in advance of making an offer on what the property is ‘worth to you’. That can be sometimes be over the asking price or under; make your offer on that basis.  If there is good interest in the property, it may be prudent to leave yourself some negotiation room.

4. Sale Agreed

Once you have agreed a sale, you will generally be asked to pay a booking deposit to the estate agent or the vendor’s solicitor.  This will generally remove the property from the market. Depending on the value of the property you are buying, a booking deposit will generally be no more than 5% of the property value.  This is completely refundable to you, the buyer, should a sale fall through for any reason before contracts are unconditionally signed.

5. Appoint a Solicitor

Once a sale is agreed a contract will be forwarded to your solicitor.   It is a good idea to appoint a solicitor early, so you are not scrambling to appoint one last minute.  Shop around too, get recommendations; fees vary and so does service.  This is an important appointment and this person will confirm (or not) that the legals, planning and taxes are in order and arrange draw-down of your mortgage.

6. Surveys

If you are buying a property and need a mortgage to purchase then you will also need a market valuation survey.  Your lending institution will have a panel of agents to choose from and you will have to pay for this.  This is just an opinion of value and is not a structural survey.  As with all purchases, you agree to buy at your own risk or ‘caveat emptor’ meaning – buyer beware. So it is a good idea with most properties to have a structural survey carried out.  There are generally 3 types, outlined by the SCSI;

Type Description
1 Cursory walk through survey (this is only suitable for maybe a new-build).
2 A thorough inspection – possibly detailing any remedial work needed, attic should be viewed and give an overall view, outlining the condition of the property – looking at all accessible areas of the property.
3 A full structural report – accessing more difficult areas, lifting of floor boards etc.

For most homes type 2 is probably sufficient.  Prices can vary depending on age and level of work required.

7. Exchange Contracts

Once the surveys are confirmed and any legal issues are resolved, your solicitor can finalise finance and arrange for you to come in and sign contracts.  Once all parties have signed, this is the point where you can’t walk away and the balance of 10% is paid (less the booking deposit).  A completion date is set at this point and draw-down will be arranged by your solicitor to coincide with the closing of sale.

8. Completion

Depending on the property, new or second hand, this can be a matter of days / weeks after exchange or it could be months.  The balance of the contract price usually 90%, is transferred into the vendors solicitors account.  Failure to complete on appointed date can result in financial penalties.  Keys are collected from the agent and the property is yours and the journey of being a property owner commences.