1. Choosing your solicitor and other professionals
Becoming a homeowner for the first time or buying a house is a financial and emotional decision that requires the experience and support of a team of reliable professionals including a solicitor, an estate agent and possibly a lender and a range of other individuals.
Appointing a team as soon as possible is key to the transaction.
Working out what you can afford can help you plan and make a decision on a property purchase quickly.
A pre-qualification letter (agreement in principle) states the amount a lender thinks you will be able to borrow based on your income and credit profile and this will be very helpful in assessing how much a lender may consider lending to you.
You can then make a rough calculation of a property price that is within budget after taking into consideration the agreement in principle and any savings you have towards the purchase.
Do check the lenders’ requirements to ensure you can comply and supply documents the lender requires as mortgage lending standards have tightened since the housing crisis.
Most sellers will only accept an offer from a buyer with a full pre-approval letter based on verified information which the estate agent will request from you.
3. Choosing a property – Location, location, location
It is vital to research a particular area before viewing lots of homes or making an offer on a property. You may wish to tour the area you are researching to get a better idea of it.
Factors to consider when choosing the location:
- Is the neighbourhood the type of area you would enjoy living in?
- Is the property close to good transport links and how long will it take to travel to and from work?
- What is the level of crime in the neighbourhood? You can check crime reports in the local newspaper or crime statistics online, such as those supplied by the Home Office Crime Statistics Collections.
- What kinds of amenities are there locally? Check out the leisure facilities, activities for yourself, activities for children, shopping facilities and so on.
- If you have children, look at the local schools. Do they have a good reputation? Where do they stand in the league tables?
Consider what aspects are important to you when buying:
- Will you feel emotionally satisfied by your choice and financially comfortable? Are you comfortable that it will hold onto its value or hopefully increase in value over the years?
- Is there sufficient space for car parking?
- Are the number of bedrooms and bathrooms adequate for your needs?
- Is a private garden important?
- How much time/money will you have to spend redecorating, if any?
Tell your estate agent exactly what type of property you are looking for and the elements that you could possibly compromise on. Also inform them about what you don’t want.
Tell your estate agent exactly what type of property you are looking for.
Inform your estate agent whether you have a mortgage agreed in principle and what deposit you have available so that the estate agent knows your budget.
Start booking property viewings with your estate agent.
It is important to fully inspect the property and this will help guide your decision on whether the property is right for you.
Once you have found a property you feel is right for you, make sure you learn as much as possible about it.
The property may seem perfect at first glance, but try to think about it from all angles. Consider the pros and cons of a property and write everything down so that you have notes on each property you have viewed, which you can use to compare with other properties later.
Make at least two visits. View the house in the daylight and at night, during rush hours and non-peak times, check if there is traffic or if the road is used as a shortcut by motorists.
6. Surveyor and other professionals
It is important to appoint a professional surveyor to inspect the property. Please do note that inspecting the property yourself does NOT avoid the need for a professional surveyor.
A surveyor can highlight:
- the potential state of repair issues;
- structural problems; and
- damp and timber infestation issues.
A surveyor can guide you on whether any other specialist is required.
Most buyers also consider consulting a plumber and electrician too as well as other specialists.
7. State of Repair
Ensure you obtain quotes for any repairs required to the property prior to exchange, so that you can make an informed decision before the purchase becomes legally binding.
Insulation: Is the roof well insulated? Is there cavity wall insulation?
Central heating: Is the central heating system efficient? How old is it? Is it gas or electric? Ask to see a winter heating bill as this can help give an idea about the quality of insulation.
Plumbing: Are the pipes and the boiler lagged? How old is the piping? Lead piping will need replacing but do check with a plumber.
Plug sockets: How old are they? If they are old-fashioned, round-pin type, re-wiring will probably be required but do check with an electrician.
8. Negotiating a price and making an offer
How much should I offer?
Careful consideration should be taken when making an offer. The property price may not have a fixed price tag and you may be able to negotiate the price down.
The negotiation will be affected by various factors, and it is worthwhile taking into account:
- The demand for the property.
- Are you aware of how many other people are interested in the same property? If you are the only one, you may well be in a strong negotiating position and the seller is likely to accept a lower price.
- How quickly the seller needs to sell. If the seller needs a quick sale they may accept a sum lower than the asking price.
- How long has the house has been on the market? If the seller is having difficulty selling the house they may accept a lower price. Make sure to check whether the asking price has dropped since it first went on the market.
9. Hiring removals and have a completion checklist
Most buyers have a plan of action and there are completion checklists available to give handy tips and guidance.
On exchange of contract for the property the seller and buyer are legally committed to the transaction and most buyers hire removal services on or after exchange.
10. Enjoy your new home
On completion, take a moment to enjoy your new home and take it all in.