Step by step guide to buying
Buying your own home is usually the largest purchase you will make in your life. Whether you're a first time buyer or an experienced property purchaser, take a look at our step by step guide below.
Think about what your ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ are before you start your search. How many bedrooms do you need? Does it need to be close to quality schools? What about transport links? It is unlikely that you'll find a property with everything on your list that's also within your budget, so be prepared to compromise and be flexible.
Every home buyer needs to work within a budget, so it's important to set this before you start looking. If you require a mortgage to help fund your purchase then we advise you to consult with a bank or mortgage broker to understand your purchasing budget in full. Knowing how much you can comfortably afford can save lots of time and potentially heartache later on. Lenders will take into account your income and whether you have enough funds to cover the required deposit, purchase-related costs and ongoing mortgage repayments.
Northwood offices will be able to put you in touch with trusted financial advisors, who can help you look at the costs involved in the moving process and budget accordingly when buying your home.
Once your budget is in place, it becomes a matter of finding the right property. 90% of all property searches now begin online, and so obviously it is a good place to start. If you register with us online, you will receive email alerts when properties that match your criteria are listed on our site. However, if you'd prefer to speak to us in person, you can get in touch with your local Northwood office and see which properties we have on offer.
Once you've found a property that meets your criteria and is within budget, it is recommended that you view it as soon as possible. It's a good idea to take a notepad with you, so you can write down anything you notice and review it later. At Northwood we accompany our customers on all viewings where possible, and our agents are able to give you all the information you need.
Once you have found a property that ticks the right boxes, you will need to make an offer to the seller. Naturally, we will be the middle person here and will speak to the seller for you. Any offer that is submitted will need to be substantiated with proof of finance. Supplying the agent with evidence of cash funds or an ‘Agreement in Principle’ if funding the purchase with a mortgage is essential. This will also help put any offer in the best light for the seller to consider.
Once the seller has agreed your offer the next step is to instruct a conveyancer to help you with the purchase. They will handle all of the legal work involved and advise you on any issues or concerns they may have around the property. We have a number of experienced and qualified property conveyancers that we can recommend and the staff in office can provide you with a quotation for the full conveyancing process.
Conveyancing simply means the transfer of a property from one party to another, i.e. from the current owner to you. This is a vital part of the process, but can be stressful and frustrating, and requires a lot of formal paperwork. However, it can all be handled by a dedicated conveyancer, who will:
- Raise any queries on arising from the draft contract
- Conduct local searches
- Refer to the information provided by the sellers
- Agree a date for exchange of contracts
We will keep you informed throughout this whole process, ensuring that you stay up to date on the latest developments.
Before the purchase can be completed, the property will need to be surveyed. There are three different types of survey that can be carried out:
1. A mortgage valuation – this will be required by your mortgage provider to reassure them that the property is sufficient security for the loan.
2. A homebuyer report – this includes a detailed, visual inspection of all aspects of the property that can be seen. It should be conducted by a qualified surveyor and will highlight any issues that may need further investigation.
3. A full or structural survey – this is required for older properties, or those that have undergone major structural changes or have been constructed from unusual materials.
After the survey is completed, you should receive a mortgage offer from your lender stipulating the final details of your loan. You may also want to take out life insurance to protect the mortgage payments. Added to this, you will need to source buildings insurance, as a minumum, prior to exchanging.
Once all the other steps have been completed, and yourself, the seller, and your respective solicitors are agreed that everything is in order, you will be able to exchange contracts. At this point you will agree a completion date, and thereafter the sale is legally binding. Both parties will be required to sign the contract agreement, and you will need to pay your deposit prior to exchanging.
On your completion date the keys will be available to collect from your local Northwood office. Congratulations – you are now the legal owner of your new home.
For many people this is also the day they will move into the property – see our change of address checklist and moving advice for more information.
The above is intended as a guide only, and no two sales are the same. If you have any questions about the selling process that are not answered here, please get in touch with your local Northwood office.