Know what you are looking for
Understand what you are looking for from your new property whether that is a garden, garage, parking, extra bedrooms etc.
The same goes for the area you are looking to buy in so research the schools and commute distances etc. These will have been something you have been thinking about well in advance but at this stage it’s worth getting it clear as these things, in order of priority, will help your search.
How much can you borrow?
Before you start looking at properties first thing is to understand how much you can spend. You can speak with your bank or financial advisor to help decide your limit or use an online mortgage calculator to understand how much you can borrow.
Don’t forget to take into account your arrangement fees, stamp duty, surveyor's costs and any other associated costs.
Where to look
Online websites like Rightmove provide an invaluable resource for finding and scoping new properties. Equally important though is to build relationships with local agents who will not only know about properties before anyone else, they will likely know information about local areas and communities, which could be very helpful, especially if you don’t know they area.
Give yourself every chance of finding that perfect place by also keeping an eye on private sellers and auctions. Find out as early as possible online too by using all the latest property apps.
Be proactive and view as many properties as you can, this way you will quickly learn what is on offer in the area. Analyse how you respond to a property and learn to balance your instincts and emotions while keeping a clear head at the same time.
Look over the house twice. You only have a short amount of time to judge so make it count. Look once with your emotions – can you see yourself here – can you imagine cooking in the kitchen, or relaxing in the longue? Secondly, look with a clear head. Look at the electrics, structure, damp patches or fixes, is it central heating and does it have double glazing? This is where you become grateful for having your list of priorities saved in your head.
Making an offer
Come away from the property after your second look. You need to digest your experience before deciding to make an offer.
Your research will have told you how quickly similar homes are selling in that area and what the demand is but give yourself the edge still by not showing the seller how much you love the property or what your maximum spend is. Often you will make a sensible offer under the asking price which will kick off the negotiation but in area where housing demand is high this is risky as someone can come in at a higher price. This is a balance between your nerves, your budget and your desire.
Now for the scary bit! Once you completed all your checks and everyone is happy you can sign the contract which commits you to purchasing the property at the agreed price. You will also hand over your deposit and agree at date at which the sale will be completed. This will be done through your lawyer.
There are two types of survey. The first is the basic valuation which is required by your lender and probably carried out by their own surveyor (at your cost). The second is the ‘Homebuyers Report’. It is always advised that you survey the property in this detail as anything less could overlook hidden issues that even the current owner may not know about. At any price it could save you money were you to buy a property that required thousands being spent but also if there were issues it would give you grounds to re-negotiate the price.
If there are any problems with the property now is the time to back out of the deal. No contracts have been signed and you owe nothing to anyone. If you still want to go ahead you need to get quotes for the work that must be done as quickly as possible.
Your mortgage provider will require you have home insurance in place from the date you complete the sale. At the point the property is sold to you, you are responsible for any damage that may occur so you want to organise this in advance. Although the cost of insurance probably won’t affect your decision to buy a property as the cost is nominal against picking an area or type of property but you want to research providers early so you can find the best deal.