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Buying a Property: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide

So, you’re thinking of buying a house? With this guide on how to buy a property, you can banish (most of) the stress and maybe even enjoy the experience.

Faye deGavre

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Mar 16, 2021

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7 min read

Buying a Property: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide

It takes many steps to buy a house or flat. In the property world, rules keep on changing. Even if you purchased a home in the past, watch out – what worked before may not fly now. And if you’re a first-time buyer, you’ll want to know exactly how to buy a property.

Buying a property isn’t something people do very often, and no two purchases are ever quite the same. And if you’re wondering, “How long does it take to buy a house?”, there is no one-size-fits-all timeline. It could be a few weeks; it could be a year. Whether you’re a seasoned home buyer or are stepping on the first rung on the property ladder, this succinct guide to home buying helps you prepare.

How to buy a property

Prepare to buy a home

Before you begin house hunting, you’ll need to know how you’re going to pay for your new abode. First-time buyers will need to budget for buying a house and save up for a deposit (anywhere from 5% to 20% of the purchase price). If you’re selling and buying a house at the same time, you’ll need to have a buyer for your property lined up to afford your next home purchase.

You’ll need to secure a mortgage in principle from a lender, which is an estimate of how much you can afford to borrow on a mortgage. While you can go directly to a bank or building society, mortgage brokers can help you find the best deal. If you’re wondering when to get a mortgage in principle, the sooner you get this organised, the better.

You’ll also need to prepare for other costs of buying, such as stamp duty, surveys, removals and more. 

Use powerful property finders

When searching for your next home, it can be difficult to know where to start. Websites that list can make the process easier with all houses and flats for sale in one place. At Boomin, we have a range of homes for sale all under one roof. With a wider, richer view of the property market, you can see properties here before anywhere else. What’s more, you can book viewings online 24/7 and receive instant confirmation - no more playing phone tag with agents.

Work with a professional Estate Agent

When viewing a property, be sure to ask the Estate Agent questions about the house, the seller’s motivation for listing and if there’s wiggle room in the price. They are keen to get the sale moving and will be your main point of contact for the property, so don’t be afraid to ask questions so you have a complete understanding before making a decision.

While arguably the most fun part of the house buying process, viewing properties can be an emotional rollercoaster. You can expect to view homes that will disappoint, and others you will fall in love with. It’s safe to say that you will have to ‘kiss a lot of frogs’ before you find The One. Patience and perseverance are key here.

Make an offer on a house

So, you’ve found the home you want, and want to make an offer – and get it accepted. Simply let the Estate Agent know what you’re willing to pay. Whether you go in hard with your best and final offer or start lower with a bit of wiggle room, this can be a nail-biting step of purchasing a house. Hold your nerve and hope your offer gets accepted. Don’t be alarmed if the seller comes back with a counteroffer. Here, you can choose to raise the stakes or walk away from the property. 

Watch out for gazumping

A word of warning – if your offer is accepted, don’t celebrate too hard just yet. Gazumping is when the seller accepts an offer from one potential buyer but then decides to accept a higher offer from someone else. This tends to be more common in markets where there are more buyers than sellers, and it can be ruthless if you have fallen hard for the property and price.

Is gazumping illegal? Unfortunately, it’s entirely legal, and sellers are well within their rights to accept another offer, even when an accepted one is already on the table.

Secure a solicitor and survey

When buying a property, you may hear a lot about conveyancing and surveying. A conveyancer is a lawyer who deals with the legal side of buying a home, and surveying is where an expert inspects the property to make sure it’s in good condition. You’ll want to keep the cost of a conveyancer in mind when budgeting – they usually come in at around £800 to £1,500, including VAT.

Confirm a mortgage

You need a formal mortgage offer to confirm that you can afford the property. The mortgage application can take around three weeks or even longer, so be sure to have all your information at the ready. 

As part of your mortgage application, the lender will inspect the property to make sure it is worth approximately what you are paying for it. Often, this is called a valuation survey, but don’t confuse it with a property survey (which you’ll need to arrange yourself). 

At this point, you’ll also want to take out suitable buildings and life insurance policies.

Choose a conveyancer

Sit tight – you’re about to enter into the legal process of buying a house. If you don’t have a local conveyancer in mind, your Estate Agent might be able to recommend a firm that you can use.

Arrange a survey

A surveyor will need to inspect your chosen property for issues. There are four main types of survey, all with varying degrees of depth. Don’t skimp on the survey; the cost of it is insignificant compared to the potential expense of fixing major structural problems. 

Agree on a completion date

Once everything is in place, it’s time to negotiate a suitable exchange and completion date that suits everyone in the chain. This is when the money is sent across and the official deeds of the property are transferred. You’ll also get the keys and (usually) move in. Time to prepare the bubbly.

Start the search

Ready to get started on your house hunt? Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or a seasoned homeowner who knows what to expect, our nifty tools help to refine your search so you can find suitable properties for sale that tick all your boxes.

See something you like? Book viewings 24/7 and receive instant confirmation. Get searching.

Faye deGavre

Content Writer