Take a good hard look at your lifestyle and decide which type of property is the most suitable for the way you live. Do you need a house with a garden or an apartment which is not on the ground floor? Where do you want to live? How many bedrooms do you need? Do you need a garage or parking space?
For most people, the cost of their home depends on how much they earn and therefore how big a mortgage they can secure. As a rough guide, most lenders will allow you up to two and a half times your salary, some more than this. Based on this calculation you should be able to find out how much you have to spend. It may be that at this point your dreams of a country mansion transform into a two bedroom city flat. Be realistic about the amount of money you have to spend. Save up as much deposit as you can – aim for at least 10% of the property value if possible.
Arrange a mortgage in principle with a lender – this will help you when you start viewing properties as you will take more seriously by the estate agents and vendors.
Make contact with a solicitor who will be able to take charge of all the legal aspects of buying a property. A good starting point is to ask friends and family if they know of any good solicitors who they can recommend to you. You can speak to several and ask for an estimate of what their services will cost you before choosing which one to stick with.
Now that you have decided on the type of property you would like to buy, have your finances agreed in principle and have found a suitable solicitor you can contact/register with estate agents and start viewing suitable property.
Once you have found a property that you like you can make an offer via the estate agent. If you feel that the property is correctly priced and do not want to miss out on your ideal home you may wish to offer the full or near asking price.
If your offer is accepted it is a good idea to ask for the property to be taken off the market which will help deter other offers on the property.
At this point your solicitor should be asked to start work on the legal process of buying a house.
A survey will need to be undertaken on the property. You may like to conduct a full survey to be sure that the property is in good condition and that you will not have any nasty/costly surprises in the future.
Once the survey is completed and as long as there are no problems with the property the lender will agree to lend you the money.
The survey report will be sent to the solicitor to check. Your legal team will carry out a local search to make sure there are no plans for anything which will affect the value of your property. The contract is then finalised and they will then confirm with the lender the mortgage.
The deposit for the property should now be given to the solicitor who will hold it for you.
Contracts are exchanged between the solicitors of both parties concerned (the seller/vendor and you the buyer), deposit is given over to the seller and a date for completion is agreed.
Transfer deeds are prepared by the solicitor to be signed.
The mortgage money is transferred into the seller’s account via your solicitor. You will then receive the transfer deeds, land registry certificate and keys to your new home.
On completion you can now move in to your new home which you now legally own.
Your solicitor should pay stamp duty, have the deeds stamped and pass title deeds to the mortgage lender. You will only receive the title deeds once your mortgage is completely paid back.
You will have to pay your solicitor for the work he has carried out on your behalf.
This is meant as a general guide and should not be seen as legal advice.