First Time Buyers Guide

Summary: Find out whats involved in buying your first property and what steps are involved before you finally put pen to paper and sign off a deal.

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Buying a house or flat for the first time can be a bit confusing, so this guide explains the process of buying a home. It is equally useful as a reminder for anyone else buying property. This guide explains the steps that you go through, and the costs that you are responsible for.

When you have found the house that you want to buy, you are ready to put in an offer.

Check out the market

You should look at what is available for the price in your area, and price range, to be sure the house is on the market for a reasonable figure. Some vendors (the person selling the property) ‘test the market’ by putting the property on the market for a higher price to see if it will sell. This is particularly likely if the house is unusual or in a very popular location.

Put in an offer

It is quite acceptable to put in an offer that is less than the asking price. Speak to the agent, unless the vendor is selling without an agent. You can sound out the agent but don’t forget they are working for the vendor, not for you. If you think the house is in the right sort of price range you can try making an offer for about 10% less than the marketing price.

Prepare to Haggle

There might be a certain amount of haggling backwards and forwards before you agree on the final price.

Agree a move date

When you agree the price you will also set a provisional move date. This might have to be rearranged depending on the legal process. but it will give you a plan to work to.

The legal process

The next step it to advise your solicitor, and if you currently have one, your mortgage company.

Your solicitor will be sending you out some paperwork – make sure you complete it thoroughly and quickly and then return it as soon as possible.


Book your survey (the mortgage company will want to do a valuation one), if you want a more in depth one this can be arranged with a local surveyor.

Get updates

Keep on top of what is happening with the solicitor, estate agent, and mortgage company - a weekly status check is a good idea. If you show that you expect to be kept informed then you are likely to get remembered by all parties.

Keeping the process moving is the best way to avoid the sale falling through for any reason.

Sealing the deal

Nothing is binding until the contracts are exchanged. At this point there are financial penalties if you for the vendor pulls out of the sale.

Once you have exchanged contracts you will be responsible for insuring the property. Often exchange and completion are set to take place on the same date. However this is not always desirable or possible, but this something that the solicitors will agree with you and the vendor, early on in the process.

Once the sale is completed the solicitors will confirm the transfer of monies to you and the vendor (and the agent). You then own the property and the keys should be released to you. The vendor must move out whether they have completed on their next house or not. (The same applies to you if you are selling a house to buy this new one.)

The buyer pays for:  

Survey - This is arranged once you have made an offer and it has been accepted. Offers are understood to be subject to survey - and in any case in English law an agreement to buy a house is not binding in any way - something to bear in mind as a seller. There is no financial penalty for withdrawing from a sale unless you have exchanged contracts.

Legal Fees - The minimum is a valuation survey which the mortgage company will insist on. This is only a confirmation of the value of the house and will not look at the condition of the house. You have a choice of two other types of survey one is a full survey which is fairly in-depth ad fairly expensive the other is a mid - level which is basically just doing a visual expedition of the condition of the house.

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