Decide if buying a home is right for you

  • Lots of people in the UK want to own their own home, but it’s not always right for everybody all the time, so make sure you do your homework before committing to buying a property.
  • There are a number of things you need to think about before setting off on your home hunting quest – not least whether you can actually afford it

Decide if you should sell first

  • If you are already a homeowner, decide whether you want to sell your house or flat before you buy. It can be dangerous in a rising market, but there are upsides. In particular, you will be able to pounce quickly when you do find the home of your dreams, and you won’t be trapped in a housing chain
  • If you decide to buy and sell at the same time we take a look at the steps you can take to make things run more smoothly.

Decide on your budget

  • How much do you want to spend? This might be dependent on how much of a deposit you can get together.
  • Don’t forget the variety of one-off and ongoing costs of buying a home. These can put an extra 15% on the cost of your home – more if you are doing serious building or redecoration work.

Get your finances in place

  • If you are a first-time buyer, there are a range of First Time Buyer Mortgages in the market place.
  • Work out how much of a deposit for the mortgage you can get together. Think about savings, the “bank of Mum and Dad”, the “bank of Granny and Grandpa” and how much you would get if you put your current home on the market and paid off your deposit. If you have any savings on long term deposit that you plan to use, and whether you should cash them in.
  • Decide what sort of mortgage you want. Speak to Heminstone Estates mortgage brokers to see what is available
  • While you can’t get a mortgage before you buy, you can get a mortgage in principle, which will put you in a stronger position.
  • A mortgage broker can be particularly helpful if you would like advice on mortgages, to scan the full range of mortgages in the market or if you have special circumstances such as being self-employed. Find out more about our fee free mortgage broker service
  • If you are buying a new build property, see our advice on getting a mortgage for a new build home.

Decide where you want to live

  • If you want to move to a new home close to where you already live, there is little to decide
  • If you want to move to a different part of town, or across the country, then deciding the area is more difficult and time consuming
  • This is a very important decision – get it wrong and you will either be unhappy with where you live, or face the costs of moving again. You must do your research thoroughly
  • You may be considering whether to buy a new build or an existing older or period property.

Choose a specific property

  • Once you know the area you want to live, you should start researching the properties in that area thoroughly so you really get to know the local market well
  • You then need to register to receive properties from the local estate agents.
  • You need to visit as many properties as possible, and make sure they are no hidden surprises. It is best to make a list of Things not to forget when viewing a property and clever questions to ask your estate agent· You need to visit as many properties as possible, and make sure they are no hidden surprises. It is best to make a list of Things not to forget when viewing a property and clever questions to ask your estate agent
  • It’s also important to understand whether the property is freehold or leasehold, and that lease terms can be then important to know.
  • If you are looking to buy a new build property, there are a range of top tips for buying a new build and buying off-plan

Make an offer – and get it accepted

  • Make sure you are in the strongest possible position as a buyer, so you Get to the front of the buyers’ queue
  • Decide how much you want to pay, including for fixtures and fittings.
  • Make the offer to the estate agent, and seal the deal.
  • There are occasions that you might be asked to pay a small holding deposit to show you are serious. It is refundable and can be repaid if the sale falls through
  • Hopefully your offer will be accepted by the seller
  • Consider whether or not to get Home Buyer’s Protection Insurance

Arrange a mortgage

  • You should ideally have got your finances in place as much as possible before making an offer. If so, you now just need to go back to your mortgage company with the agreed offer and complete the process
  • If you haven’t got your finances in place, you must now scramble to do so as quickly as possible, before the seller loses patience.
  • You will need to get the lender to make you a formal mortgage offer before you can exchange contracts
  • If buying with a mortgage, it is also a good time to consider whether life insurance is a good idea

Hire a solicitor or conveyancer

  • Once you have agreed an offer on your house, you need to get a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal work to transfer ownership of the property to you. We recommend that you should compare quotes to find the cheapest, nearest and best rated conveyancers.
  • Your mortgage company might require you to go with one that is on their panel, which might make the decision for you. It is recommended in some cases that go with one suggested by the estate agent as they are have a better working relationship which can help in getting the sale through.
  • Work out how much conveyancing will cost you and be prepared with a list of questions to ask your conveyancing solicitor to help make your final choice
  • The solicitor or conveyancer will do the searches, such as with the local authority and Environment Agency, to ensure there are not any major problems with the property.

Decide if you want a survey

  • Your mortgage lender will require a valuation by a surveyor, to ensure that the property is a good enough to lend against. This is not a proper survey, and will only look very superficially at the property, if at al
  • You can usually either get the valuation upgraded to a full survey, or you can commission a separate survey. This should tell you everything you need to know about the property, and alert you to any potential problems you will face once you move in. Unless you are very experienced with property, it is usually worth getting a survey done

Arrange a deposit

  • Before you can exchange contracts , you need to arrange a deposit usually from about from 5% of the sale price of the property, and give it to your solicitor or conveyancer
  • You should either have the funds as a cash sum, or might be able to raise it from the sale of your existing home

Exchange contracts

  • When you exchange contracts with the seller you become legally committed to buying the property – and they are legally committed to selling it do you
  • If you pull out after this without due reason, your 10% deposit can be forfeit.
  • You should only exchange contracts after you have received the surveyors report, and any necessary action has been taken
  • Before you exchange contracts, you need to agree a completion date with the seller, which is usually about four weeks after the exchange.
  • Your solicitor or conveyance will only exchange contracts after they are satisfied and report to you with the searches, that a formal mortgage offer has been received, and arrangements made for the agreed deposit.
  • You need to ensure that you take out buildings insurance for the property from the date of exchange, as you then become responsible for it from then on. Indeed, it is usually a condition of the mortgage that you have buildings insurance in place.

Final arrangements and negotiation

  • You need to negotiate any final things that have not yet been agreed, such as buying the sellers appliances or furniture if they not being included in the sale.
  • You need to make arrangements for the supply of electricity, gas, water and telephone service, etc. It be easier transfer your existing supplier or if you don’t yet pay utilities this may be a good time to compare a range of suppliers for the best deals.
  • The solicitor/conveyancer will inform the land registry that they are in the process of transferring ownership of your property
  • Your solicitor/conveyancer should be liaising with the mortgage company to ensure the money will be ready for completion. You need to ensure that your deposit is also ready, and normally you will pay that to your conveyancer before completion

Complete the sale

  • Completion is when you pay for the property and take ownership of it.
  • On the day of completion, the money is transferred and the deeds of the property are transferred, between each side’s conveyancer

Take possession of your new home

  • The seller has to leave the property by the time of completion, however, moving days especially where families are involved can take time with removals and vans to be loaded so be patient with one another. When the seller vacates you should then be able to collect the keys, normally from the estate agent
  • You are now free to move in, or if you are doing any building work before hand, the workmen can now start


  • After completion, your solicitor or conveyancer will send you an account, covering all their costs and disbursements, as well as the purchase price of the house and stamp duty (if applicable).
  • Your solicitor or conveyancer will normally pay any disbursements for you, and ensure that the change of ownership is registered with the land registry