A step-by-step guide to buying your first home

A step-by-step guide to buying your first home

Buying a property can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve not done it before. We’ve broken the process into a clear step-by-step guide to make it as easy as possible for you to navigate your way to moving day.

What can you afford?

To avoid the disappointment of finding a perfect home and realising you can’t afford it, find out how much you are able to borrow and if you are eligible for any government schemes.

Be careful to factor in more than just your monthly mortgage repayments. You’ll also need to take into account additional costs such as:

  • Mortgage fees
  • Stamp duty
  • Valuation and survey fees
  • Insurance costs

Choose a mortgage

It’s important to do your research before settling on a mortgage:

  1. Search online to get an overview of what’s available
  2. Speak to a mortgage broker who will be able to give in depth advice on the best rates and schemes
  3. Get in touch with your bank about deals for existing customers

When you’ve found a mortgage that suits all your needs it’s a good idea to get prequalified for a mortgage. This isn’t compulsory but you will then know the price range you have to work with and should speed up the process when you do make an offer on a property.

If you’re unsure of any terms used throughout this process take a look at our Mortgage Jargon Buster for help.


Finding the right property

Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you go to view a property. Buying a house is a major financial investment so take your time before making any decisions. Take a look at our House Viewing Checklist to help you know what to look out for during a house viewing.

When you’ve found the perfect property work with your agent on a suitable offer. When a price has been agreed you can move forward with the buying process.

At this point you should appoint a solicitor who can start working on the contract.

Getting a survey

When your offer has been accepted your estate agent should help you to organise a surveyor to inspect the property. This is an examination to check for any damage and to ensure the property is worth the asking price. There are varying levels of survey available and you should seek advice from your estate agent on what is appropriate for your needs. Should anything significant arise during the survey you should negotiate with the seller on what needs fixing before you sign any documents.

Contract signing and exchanging

When you, your solicitor, estate agent and surveyor are all in agreement on the contract then you can sign and exchange with the seller. You’re now legally committed to the purchase of the property and you’ll need to pay a deposit of between 5-10%.

Insuring your new home

When the contracts have been exchanged you’ll need to consider insurance policies. Buildings insurance is more often than not something that your mortgage provider will insist on.
Now is good time to also think about life insurance. It’s not compulsory but life cover with a mortgage protection policy will take care of your mortgage payments should something happen to you. Have a look through our ‘Insurance policies for first-time buyers’ article for more information.


Completion of sale

Now that the contracts have been signed and exchanged, and the property is insured, you’re on your way to completion of sale. Here’s what needs to happen next:

  • Your deposit money will now be transferred over to the seller
  • You will receive the transfer of ownership legal documents
  • You will need to pay bills such as stamp duty and mortgage fees
  • The keys will be handed over to you

You now officially own your own home, all that’s left to do is to plan your moving day and get settled in.

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