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How to buy a house: A step-by-step guide to buying a property

14th October 2021


Buying a house is extremely exciting, but can also be a confusing, stressful experience. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make it easier. Once you’ve decided you’re ready to buy, knowing the process and what to expect at each stage is a great start. Having a trusted, compassionate estate will also alleviate stress and make whole process more straightforward.

At Charters, our knowledgeable team are on hand to help. To get you off to the best start possible, we’ve put together a simple step-by-step guide to buying a property.

Buying a house process

When you buy a house you’re likely to follow the following step-by-step plan. Keeping this in mind will help you stay on track throughout the process, although you may encounter the odd deviation along the way.

  1. Save for a deposit
  2. Find out how much you can borrow (mortgage)
  3. Find the property you want to buy
  4. Apply for a mortgage in principle
  5. Make an offer through the estate agent
  6. Apply for a mortgage
  7. Hire a conveyancer/solicitor
  8. Get a survey completed
  9. Amend offer if appropriate
  10. Arrange insurance
  11. Exchange contracts
  12. Complete and move in 
  1. Save for a deposit

As a rule of thumb: the more you save for a deposit, the better. A bigger deposit means you’ll have more properties to choose from, you’ll be in a stronger position as a buyer and you’re likely to need a smaller mortgage. You’re also likely to get better mortgage rates, too.

  1. Find out how much you can borrow (mortgage)

Once you’re seriously thinking about buying a flat or house, talk to lenders to find out how much you can borrow. This will help guide your property search as you’ll know what you can afford.

  1. Find the property you want to buy

The house-hunt is an extremely exciting part of the process. Talk to your estate agent and they can help guide your search and show you properties you may not have considered. Remember to look at things like:

  • the number of years left on any lease (if it’s a leasehold property)
  • if the property has things like gas central heating, modern insulation and double glazing
  • the council tax band the property falls into
  • any service charges
  • local transport links
  • outdoor space
  1. Apply for a mortgage in principle

Once you’ve found the property you’d like to buy, you need to apply for a mortgage in principle. This shows the seller you’re a serious buyer and can afford the price you decide to offer.

  1. Make an offer through the estate agent

Tell their estate agent you’re interested in buying a property and would like to make an offer. They will guide you through any paperwork and inform their client of your offer.

  1. Apply for a mortgage

With your offer accepted, you’re getting close to buying a house! It’s now time to go back to your lender and officially apply for a mortgage.

  1. Hire a conveyancer/solicitor

At this point you’ll need to hire a conveyancer or solicitor to take care of the legal paperwork. They will help you ask the right questions and ensure everything is in order as you progress with the purchase. It’s extremely difficult to buy a house without legal help and some mortgage lenders will insist you have a conveyancer/solicitor.

  1. Get a survey completed

A survey will reveal information about the property which may affect the purchase. It’s a very good idea to get a survey completed and mortgage lenders are likely to require one as part of their terms.

  1. Amend offer if appropriate

Sometimes, surveys will uncover something like damp or structural damage, which may sound like bad news! However, it’s much better to know at this stage. With new information at your disposal, you may decide to amend your offer taking into consideration any new costs you’ll have.

  1. Arrange insurance

It’s wise to arrange homebuyer’s protection insurance at this stage as it will cover you if the house purchase goes awry. The finishing line is in sight but there is still danger of being gazumped or the seller pulling out. With insurance you should be able to recoup some legal, survey and mortgage fees if the purchase falls through.

  1. Exchange contracts

Through your conveyancer/solicitor, you’ll next exchange contracts with the vendor. This is a legally binding commitment that they’ll sell and you’ll buy the property.

  1. Complete and move in

The final step in buying a house: you get the keys, move in and assume legal ownership of the property. Congratulations!

Any questions?

As your trusted local estate agents, Charters are here to help you at every step. We have branches in Alton, Alresford, Bishops Waltham, Chandlers Ford, Farnham, London, Park Gate, Romsey, Southampton and Winchester. Pop in and see us or get in touch with any questions. Our friendly team will be happy to help.

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