First-time Buyers

Buying your first home: six steps to moving in

Christina Hoghton
Written By:
Christina Hoghton

Buying a property can be complicated, so it helps to know what to expect along the way

Buying your first home is always a big deal, but it can often be complicated and sometimes a little bit stressful.

It helps to know what to expect along the way, from getting a mortgage to getting the keys to your home and moving in.

Things can still go wrong but, if you know what should happen when, you can chase the right people at the right time.

Anna McEntee from the home insurance team at Comparethemarket has shared six key steps that she thinks first-time buyers should be aware of.

She said: “By following these steps, first-time buyers are more likely to be fully prepared when it comes to purchasing their first home; from agreeing a mortgage in principle, all the way through to moving day.”

Here’s what Anna said:

The buying process explained

Get a mortgage in principle. A mortgage in principle acts as proof that you’re able to borrow and are serious about buying. Some estate agents will want to see a mortgage agreement in principle before you can make an offer, particularly if you’re a first-time buyer. Use an online mortgage calculator to help you estimate how much money you can borrow, and to figure out what you can realistically afford.

Start house-hunting. Once you start looking at properties, make sure you’re asking the right questions, including talking with estate agents to understand if what you’re looking for falls within your budget. Once you’ve found the right property, you can put in your opening offer with the estate agent, who will act as a go-between.

Apply for a mortgage. After your offer has been accepted, it’s time to turn your mortgage in principle into the real thing. There are many mortgage types available, so research your options to decide which is best for you. The process of applying for a mortgage can be long and you’ll need to answer lots of questions, so make sure you’re prepared for this.

Exchange contracts. A solicitor will help you through the complicated paperwork and contract process, acting on your behalf to communicate with the sellers. Your purchase becomes legally binding once contracts are exchanged – which usually happens once your deposit has been paid – meaning you will officially own your own property. As a legal homeowner, one of the first things you should do is protect your property with home insurance. This means if anything goes wrong, even prior to collecting your keys and moving in, your insurance should cover you.

Prepare for the move. There’s a lot to do in the lead-up to moving day, such as giving notice to your landlord, ordering new furniture, and letting utility providers know you’ll be moving. If you own a car, you should also let your car insurance provider and the DVLA know about your move, so you don’t risk invalidating your insurance.

Move into your new home. After collecting your keys, one of the first things you should do is take a meter reading. This is important to ensure your energy supplier can bill you correctly. Moving day may be very stressful, but remember what a big achievement this is for you. Take a deep breath and celebrate successfully buying your very own home!”