The nine stages of buying your first home

A simple, step-by-step guide to what can seem like a very complicated process.

  • 1. Find out what you can borrow

    1. Find out what you can borrow

    Our mortgage calculator considers things like your monthly salary, any debt such as credit cards, loans or hire purchase agreements and how much money you have for a deposit.

    It can then give you an estimate of:

    • how much you could borrow in total
    • and how much your monthly repayments could be.

    Buying a home is an expensive business, which is why we ask about any outstanding debts or commitments you might have. There are lots of fees to pay on top of the price of the property itself, such as repairs, removals, solicitors’ fees and property valuation (see below).

    Then, when you’ve moved in, there are other bills to think about too:

    What Why
    Rates You pay these to the local council for your water supply, emptying the bins, street lighting and so on.
    Ground rent If you're buying a leasehold property (if someone else owns your land)
    Management fee If you’re buying an apartment or moving into a development
    Buildings insurance You may have to buy this before we’ll approve your mortgage
    Home contents insurance Sometimes this can be bundled in with your buildings insurance
    Life insurance or critical illness cover A good idea, especially if you have children
  • 2. Finding the right home for you

    2. Finding the right home for you

    When you know how much you could borrow, it’s time to get searching.

    You’ll probably have an idea of where you want to live and the features you want your home to have. Local property sites let you filter your searches by price, number of bedrooms, postcode, and so on.

    You can also register with local estate agents, check in the local papers, and watch out for ‘For Sale’ signs in the area. View as many properties as you can to get an idea of what’s available in your price range.

  • 3. Make an offer

    3. Make an offer

    Once you’ve found the property you want to buy, it’s time to make an offer. Most houses are sold through an estate agent, so make your offer to them, not the seller.

    The asking price is how much the seller hopes to get, so there may be some room for negotiation once you’ve settled on your bid. Remember to tell the estate agent that you’re a first time buyer, meaning you have no previous house to sell and will take less time to get your hands on the funds to complete the purchase.

    Of course the sellers of your new home may still have to wait until their new house has been vacated by its owners - this is the dreaded ‘chain’ you may hear people talking about. It can get a bit complicated and cause delays, so patience is the name of the game.

    If you’re buying a new-build property, there is no chain and the asking price is usually fixed.

  • 4. Apply for your mortgage

    4. Apply for your mortgage

    If your offer is accepted, it’s time to make a formal mortgage application.

    Speak to us to get a firmer idea of the figure we could lend you after we’ve asked you a few questions about your finances. We’ll also talk you the implications of a mortgage so you know what you’re getting into. If everything looks good, we’ll go ahead and process your application.

    With our mortgages, you could need as little as a 5 per cent deposit, and our cashback offer might help meet the cost of conveyancing (see below) or new furniture.

  • 5. Find a solicitor

    5. Find a solicitor

    Your solicitor will prepare the paperwork and deal with the legal side of things on your behalf. You don’t need to worry about what this entails, but it includes arranging contracts and registering you as the owner of the property. They’re also your one-stop-shop for the rest of the buying process and you pay your deposit to them when the time comes. Shop around for the best deal as conveyancing costs can vary, and make sure they know you’re a first time buyer! Have a look at the Law Society websiteExternal link icon to find a solicitor if you’re not sure where to start.

  • 6. Get the property valued

    6. Get the property valued

    We’ll arrange for a basic professional valuation which assesses things like the property’s age and condition, and prices of similar properties in the area. For extra peace of mind, you may prefer to upgrade to either a Home Buyer’s Report or a full structural survey, especially if you’re buying an older house or one in poor repair.

  • 7. Get your insurance in place

    7. Get your insurance in place

    You won’t be able to complete on your mortgage without buildings insurance, so your solicitor will ask for your policy documents as proof. It's a good idea to buy contents insurance to protect all your belongings as well.

  • 8. Sign the contract

    8. Sign the contract

    Once all this is done, you’re ready to put pen to paper.

    After this there’s no turning back! You’re committed to the sale and your date of completion will now be fixed.

    The completion date (the day you move in) will depend on when your property’s current owner can move out.

  • 9. Move in and celebrate

    9. Move in and celebrate

    You’ve done it – you now have your own home. Don’t forget to tell people like your doctor, your bank and the Driver and Vehicle Agency that you have a new address, and contact Royal Mail to have your post re-directed.

    And after all your hard work, invite your friends and family round for a house-warming party – and celebrate!

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