Before you start here are some of the steps that are involved and some tips on how to make them work for you.
Getting an agreement in principle (AIP)
If you're unsure how much you could borrow or if a lender will accept you, you can get an agreement in principle (sometimes called a decision in principle) back from your lender.
Your lender will perform various checks and may require a full break down of your income and outgoings each month. Once your lender is happy they'll offer you an AIP – a document stating the amount they are willing to lend to you.
When you know how much you can borrow and what your monthly repayments might be you can start looking through the housing market to see what’s available. It’s a good idea to make an ordered list of your requirements and your must haves, should haves and could haves.
Be realistic about what you expect from your home, as you’ll be paying more for features you think you like but don’t fully use.
Once you've found the right property for you, you'll need to complete a mortgage application. If you have already got an agreement in principle you can convert this into an application.
The process of buying a home is a legal procedure known as conveyancing. Various checks need to be carried out – such as land registry checks – by your solicitor or conveyancer. These can take some time as the deeds to the land and property need to be fully understood before you can carry on. Generally, these will be carried out by your legal representative, so there isn’t too much you can do to speed things up.
Valuation and Survey
Your lender will request a basic valuation be carried out and arrange for this to take place. This valuation is usually paid for by you, but it’s for the benefit of the lender. It aims to confirm that the property exists, it is as you’ve described it on your mortgage application and it’s suitable security to lend against.
If you decide you would like a more detailed survey, there are two main types – HomeBuyer survey and full structural survey. These can take place at the same time as the valuation to save time – just arrange this through your lender.
HomeBuyer survey - This type of survey is suitable for modern, conventionally constructed properties. It isn’t a detailed survey, but rather focuses on essentials like significant defects and urgent problems.
Full structural survey - This is a much more detailed report on the condition of the property. It's suitable for property of all ages and types.
This is when contracts are swapped between buyer and seller. At this point it becomes legally binding and usually neither of you can pull out without paying compensation.
On completion all the agreements in the contracts will be fulfilled and you will pay the agreed amount to them, this is taken care of by your solicitor or conveyancer. This can be on the same day as Exchange or, more commonly, 5-20 working days after.