Home Buyers’ Guide


The time has come – that wonderful, exciting moment when you have decided to buy a home. Trouble is, you’re not too sure how to go about it. And it’s such a big step, isn’t it? Nervousness starts to creep in and you start to wonder if this is such a good idea after all.

You’ve heard frightening stories from other people – maybe even experienced some yourself – so you are aware of many of the problems you may have to face; how much of a long, drawn-out process the whole business is – and the cost!

It helps, therefore, to know that help is just around the corner. Expert advice, tips, suggestions, questions answered – everything you need to help the home-buying experience become something you will always remember for the right reasons. So, a word of advice to start with – if you are selling a property as well as buying one, and the purchase of your next home is dependent on selling, it is strongly advised that you sell your home before you get down to serious house-hunting. If not, you could end up frustrated and disappointed, as well as having noticeably less money in your bank account.

Where do you start??

Right then, where do we start. At the beginning is a very good place, and the first thing you have to decide is how much you can afford. Don’t be fooled into working out your budget based on the cost of the house itself. There are other expenses involved – they can total between £2,5000 and £5,000 – and you need to take them into account as well.
With this in mind, calculate your price range by working out what you will get from the sale of your current home; the amount you can borrow; and the available amount you have in savings or investments. What’s that? You’re not sure how much you will be allowed to borrow? You can find out using our mortgage advice page which includes a mortgage calculator.

Once you have done this, work out the total of the other one-off costs you have been warned about and deduct it from the suggested borrowing amount and you will have a rough estimate of the kind of price range you should be looking at.

We will do all we can to help you find the best mortgage rates to suit your particular circumstances. There really is no substitute for expert advice and we will pass you on to trained advisers who will cleverly guide you in the right direction at this very important stage of the house-buying proceedings.

Once you have sorted out this vital aspect and you have decided on the property, you then need to hire a solicitor to deal with all the legal aspects of the purchase. It is possible to do it yourself but it is very time-consuming and you do need to have a good deal of knowledge of the subject.

Make an offer of accept the asking price?

Right then. Make an offer. Don’t just agree to pay the price which is being advertised. You can make substantial savings with a little bit of skilled haggling. Having agreed on a price, both you and your mortgage lender need to know whether or not the property is actually worth that sum, so you need to have a surveyor’s report.

How do you know if its worth the asking price??

As well as what is known as the basic valuation, there are two main types of survey: the home-buyer’s report and the buildings survey (also known as the full structural survey). All lenders require a basic valuation, but is strongly advised that you also have an independent, more detailed survey carried out, as the basic valuation will only show up any obvious problems that you will probably have noticed yourself.

Property Survey… what? why? how?

The level of survey you need depends a lot on the individual property you are buying. You may wonder whether or not a survey is actually necessary. After all, it is such an expensive process. You already have to pay for a basic valuation for your lender, and you may be tempted to risk not bothering with any closer examination of the property by professionals.

Admittedly you can cast your own eye over the property to get some idea of its condition, but, unless you are trained in this particular sphere, there are certain problems which you will almost certainly not detect. If major defects are uncovered you might even think again about your purchase, or you could be in a position to renegotiate the price.

A home is a massive investment and it is worth paying a few hundred pounds for a survey at this stage as it could save you much bigger sums, and lots of hassle, later on. Also, if problems do appear later on which the surveyor did not point out, you may be able to claim compensation It is at this stage that you also ought to think about life assurance.

It is not a nice subject, but it gives you peace of mind if you face up to it. If something did happen to you how could your family cope with a large debt and reduced income? For a relatively small monthly payment you could have life assurance to protect your mortgage.

The Legal Process

What is needed now is a final thorough check by you and your solicitor to make sure that everything is in order and then you can proceed with the exchange of contracts. Once that has been done you can no longer change your mind. If you do pull out you it is highly likely that you will lose your deposit and you could be sued for breach of contract.

And that’s just about it. The day of completion arrives. Now where are those keys!

Just a few things to tie up first. You have to pay the balance of the price on the house (the agreed price minus the deposit which you have already paid), usually through your solicitor or conveyancer, and the deeds are handed over to you.

The not so hidden extras

It is at this stage that you pay those extra costs – stamp duty, land registry fees and solicitors fees, and the solicitor will carry out final administration. Now relax, have a glass of champagne and get to know and enjoy your new home.