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Buying property tips: Buying a home

Buying a new home is a big financial undertaking and can prove to be an extremely stressful time in your life. It's worthwhile taking some time to plan your actions before you start making any big decisions.

Location, Location, Location
The first thing you may want to consider is where you want to live and if you want to stay in the location you are currently living in. If you are thinking about making an investment do some research into up and coming hotspots where you money will be better spent. Once you have found a property you like find out about the area, this is particularly relevant if you are relocating. Consider the local amenities such as transport links and locate the nearest schools, supermarkets and banks etc. It would also be wise to look into the cost of Council Tax, electricity and water bills on average and other rates you may be liable to pay.

How Much Can You Afford?
It's important to work out how much you have to spend on a new property. Setting a budget is crucial so the sooner the better. It is also essential that you stick to it. Having a budget in place should help you limit your search to properties within your means. Remember to plan for additional costs such as solicitor's fees, stamp duty, surveyor's fee, land registry fee, removal costs, and the cost of furniture, self storage expenses and maintenance costs.

Choosing A Property
Before you start looking for a new home it's a good idea to work out what you want in a prospective new home. With so many different styles and features available it can be a daunting task wading through all the options and finding a home that meets all your requirements. Try making a note of your ideal home and start from there. It's important to realise people rarely find a property that meets all their expectations, but by keeping your preferences handy and viewing as many properties as you can, you stand a better chance of doing so.

Choosing A Property

Prepare Your Finances

Without doubt the most important factor for you to consider is your finances. It's best to sit down and work out how much money you have early on in the house hunting process. You don't want to come unstuck after making an offer on your dream home and then realise you don't have any money available or a mortgage in place. If you need financial assistance seek advice from a mortgage advisor or broker before you start looking and try to arrange a mortgage in principle - this will help to cut out much of the hassle when it comes to making an offer on a property that you like.

Mortgage Guide


It's always a good idea when searching for a new home to view as many properties for sale as possible. This will help to give you a good idea of the type of property you are likely to get for your budget. When viewing a property ask as many questions as you necessary. If you find a property you like make a note to visit the property a second time. When you return for further viewings there may be aspects of the property you didn't notice first time around. Make some notes as you wonder round, marking the plus points and highlighting any concerns, doing this will make it easier to choose between your favoured properties later on. Find out what comes with the property. Will the sale include white goods such as a washing machine and dishwasher and will carpets etc be included. Draw up a list of fixtures and fittings that are included and sign an agreement with the owner. If both parties are clear what is included and what isn't, it will help to prevent any misunderstanding or ill feeling at a later date.

Making An Offer
When you are happy you have found the right home it's time to make an offer. The best way to do this is by post but it can also be done by fax or email. The asking price is not necessarily the offer you have to make. There are a number of factors that will affect the success of your offer, such as the interest in the property, how long the property has been on the market and your current position, whether you are able to complete quickly or if you are part of a chain. If you need to borrow money now is the time to arrange your mortgage. Ideally you will already have a mortgage in principle.

Mortgage Guide
Conveyancing & Solicitors
Once a sale is agreed, you will need to appoint a company that specialises in Conveyancing. Personal recommendations are usually a good place to start. The Law Society is also a good resource of local specialists in your area. Agree a fixed fee cost for the Conveyancing beforehand. They will need details of the property and the details of vendors chosen solicitors details.

Conveyancing Guide

Arrange A Survey
As with Solicitors, personal recommendations are the best way to find a good surveyor - ask friends, family and colleagues. Agree a cost with your chosen surveyor before they commence work. The type and cost of a survey will depend on the size, location and age of your property. There are three main types of survey - a valuation report, a homebuyer's report, or a full structural survey.

Exchange Contracts
Read and sign the contract prepared by your solicitor. At this stage you are entering into a legally binding contract and once contracts have been exchanged both parties are committed and neither can back out thereafter. In doing so, the 10% deposit of the purchase price paid on exchange will be forfeit.


Complete the sale and finalise a date to move in. Completion is when the balance of the purchase price and all outstanding costs and expenses are paid. You may also be required to pay 'apportionments'. These are reimbursements to the vendor of bills they have paid in advance of the sale, such as water rates. Decide whether you want to move yourself or hire a removal company to help you. Now is the time to notify your utility providers, post office, banks and other service providers of your move.

Useful links
Selling your home
First time buyers
In-depth mortgage guide
Property news



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