Guide to  buying a house

Buying your first home is one of the most exciting things you’ll do, however it can also be incredibly overwhelming. Our guide to buying a house, covers everything from how much it costs, to how long it will take and everything in between. Whether it is us or another agent, you’ll receive support every step of the way to help take the stress out of buying your first home.

House Buying Process 

Understanding the process of buying a house makes the process a lot easier. We’ve outlined the key steps below


Before you start to look at properties you will need to find out how much you can afford to borrow. A number of online calculators are available to give you an estimation, however to gain accurate figures of what you can borrow, you will need to speak to a mortgage advisor.

Have a think about some realistic but ideal things you would love from the property you purchase. Now you have an idea of what you can afford you can start to look at properties for sale on the various property portals and estate agent websites to create a shortlist of properties you would like to view

Now you’ve created a shortlist you will need to arrange viewing the properties in person and see which ones tick the right boxes.

Before making an offer on a property you will need to choose a suitable mortgage. To begin with you will be given a ‘mortgage in principle. It shows people you are serious about purchasing a property and that you are in a position to proceed.

Once you’ve found the perfect home, you will need to put in an offer with the estate agent. When making your offer, it is important to consider the asking price, however there are a number of factors which could make this price negotiable. When submitting your offer, think about what the property is worth to you and how much you can readily afford.

To progress with purchasing the property, you will need to instruct a solicitor to conduct the legal process of buying a house. We an introduce you to a panel of trusted conveyancers.

There are many options when it comes to having a survey done. If you are buying with a mortgage your lender will require a mortgage valuation survey which will assess whether the property is worth what you are paying for it. This will only assess the value and will not review the condition of the property. You could get a home buyers survey or a detailed building survey but these are not necessary to purchase the house. Our in house survey department will be happy to discuss your requirements further with you.

Once the above has been completed, you will need to go back to your mortgage advisor to finalise your mortgage and to arrange suitable buildings and life insurance.

Your conveyancer will review the property information questionnaire and fixtures and fittings supplied by the seller and will raise any enquires with the seller’s solicitor.

With everything in place, you will need to work alongside your agent and conveyancer to negotiate a suitable exchange and completion date that suits everyone in the chain.

Up to this point the conveyancing firm you are using will be busy completing all the legal aspects of your move and you will have filled in a number of forms. Once the contracts are exchanged, the sale is less likely to fall through as it is legally binding. In some cases, completion will happen on the same day and in others it could be a week or so later. This is when you officially own the house and can pick up the keys.

How long is the house buying process?

The process of buying a house can be unpredictable and it is difficult to pinpoint an exact timescale. You may be wondering how long searches take? Is the process quicker if there is no chain and what will happen if the sale falls through? A good guideline to buying a house from start to finish can be between 3-6 months, however individual circumstances such as how many people are in the chain and the nature as to why they are selling can change this.

What is the cost of buying a house?

There are a number of costs involved in buying a house and it is important to understand what is required up front in order to complete the purchase.

How much deposit will I need?

The lowest deposit you can give averages around 5%, with most first time buyers putting down a 15% deposit. The more deposit you can save, generally speaking the better mortgage rates you will have access to.

How much are solicitors fees?

Dependent upon the conveyancing company that you choose, the rates may vary. Normally you will be looking to pay between £800 and £1500 plus VAT. Please visit our conveyancing page and find out about our fixed price conveyancing. Searches may also be an additional cost and are charged at around £300.

How much is stamp duty?

On the 8th July 2020, the government announced a stamp duty holiday until 31st March 2021. For properties with a value of £500,000 or less, you will not have to pay stamp duty. After this date, first time buyers are stamp duty exempt on properties up to a value of £300,000. For properties with a value between £300,001 and £500,000, stamp duty is charged at 5%. If the property you are purchasing is not your first home, then stamp duty will be applicable from £125,000 and the % charge will vary depending on the value.

How long does a mortgage application take?

Where the requirements are fairly straight forward, a mortgage application should take about a month. In the first instance you will speak with your chosen mortgage advisor and discuss your financial situation and find a suitable product. The lender with then go through the process to determine if you are a suitable candidate for the product and can afford to pay the mortgage back. They will also look into whether the property is worth the money that you would like to borrow.

What to look for when buying a house?

When viewing your shortlisted property, you will need to consider the things you can’t always determine from a photo

  • What’s the parking like?
  • Is there too much noise?
  • Can you smell damp or rising mould?
  • Does the property require much work e.g. cracks in the wall, roof repairs?
  • Is the garden overlooked?

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t purchase the property; however it’s worth is something to considering whether you can afford to make the repairs or are they liveable until you can.

Making an offer on a house? 

When you find the property you want to buy, you will need to put in an offer. Before submitting your offer have a think about what the house is worth to you. The asking price is a guide to what the vendor would like for the house, however if for example the vendor wants a quick sale or you are a first time buyer, this could determine the price you are willing to pay or what they will be willing to accept. If the property needs a lot of work doing to it, you may decide that you are only going to offer a certain amount, to allow you to do the work required.

If the property has received a lot of interest, but it is exactly what you are looking for, then you may decide to submit a higher offer to give yourself a better chance. Once the offer has been negotiated and accepted, the status will be changed to sold subject to contact. If you also have a property on the market, you will need to have accepted an offer to be able to proceed. If there is a sale board up, the status of this will be also be changed, so others are aware an offer has been accepted. It is important to keep the process moving, as an offer accepted does not guarantee the property is yours, there are still a number of legal and financial checks that must be completed. If you are in a chain, you or someone in the chain, could change their mind and therefore the chain would be broken. To secure the purchase (once the legal and financial checks are done) you will need to exchange contracts. Once the contracts have been exchanged, if you pull out then you would incur a penalty, so it is less likely not to go through. Once complete, the money will be transferred and the keys will be released to you.

Your local Newton Fallowell office is ready and waiting to help with all your property needs and will be very happy to help.

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