First-time Buyers

Guide to moving home

Your Mortgage
Written By:
Your Mortgage

Before you start looking for a specific property, it makes sense to choose a defined area and check it out.



Try to visit a couple of times, look at all of the transport links, investigate local schools if appropriate, and look up other amenities that are important to you.


The first step

Most people start their property searchby visiting online property websites, to get an idea of what is available within their price range. But it also makes sense to sign up with a number of local estate agents and give them as tight a brief as possible. Tell them what your maximum budget is (they will almost always try to get you to view properties which exceed your budget, but remain firm). Tell them exactly which area you want to live in, what the property MUST have (eg minimum number of bedrooms) and what you would like it to have (eg south-facing garden). Viewing property is a time-consuming business, and you do not want to waste precious time being dragged around properties that don’t interest you.

The golden rule is: take your time. Do not be rushed or pressured, or put off if the current owner is hovering. Try to visit the property a number of times, at different times of the day. Keep your eyes open for any obvious defects, such as damp, and don’t be afraid to ask the owner for utility bills to get an idea of how much the property costs to run.


Making an offer

Remember that the sale price is what the seller hops to get, not what they realistically expect. Many buyers will put in an initial offer of 10 per cent under asking price, or even more in the current buyer’s market. You can always increase the offer if they reject you at first. But your second offer should be a final, serious one. Also, bear in mind that popular properties may go for asking price – or even above asking price – when the market is booming. Make your offer subject to contract and subject to survey, so you can withdraw if problems arise. If your offer is expected you may be asked for a deposit, but you are not obliged to pay it at this stage.



Contact your lender. They will send out a valuer, or carry out an automatic valuation, to ensure that the property is worth at least the amount they are lending. You often have to pay for this valuation (typically about £300 on a £100,000 property). The valuation is cursory, however, so you should also commission your own Homebuyers Report, which will cost about £200 extra.

If the property is older, you could have a comprehensive buildings survey carried out, which will inspect every nook and cranny.


Legal work

Buying a home is a legal process, and a solicitor or conveyancer is usually used. The legal process of transferring property is called conveyancing. The solicitor or conveyancer checks all the legal documents such as the title deeds. They also check with the local authority that nothing will impact on the value of your property. They will also check the lease of a leasehold flat, and what is included in the sale.

Once everything is in order, you sign a contract, which is exchanged with the seller, who signs an identical contract. You have to pay a non-refundable 10 per cent deposit on exchange. You are now responsible for insuring the property, so you must arrange buildings insurance, unless you are buying a leasehold flat in which case the freeholder is responsible for the insurance. A date can now be set for completion, which is usually within four weeks. On completion day, the legal ends are tied up, you collect the keys and move in.