Buying your first home: what to do and where to start?


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Buying your first home is an exciting time, but sometimes the home buying process can seem a little complicated. Read on for our handy timeline which will help you from start to finish.

1. Save your deposit

To buy your first home, you’ll need a deposit of anywhere between 5% and 20% of the value of the house. If your deposit is fairly low, it’s important to be aware that your mortgage rate may be higher than those who borrow with bigger deposits.

The Government’s Help to Buy scheme means you could buy a new build property with a deposit of just 5%. The Government will then give you a 20% equity loan, meaning that you’ll only need a 75% mortgage. This scheme is also available in Scotland and Wales, but how it works varies between countries.

2. Get a mortgage in principle

Next, you’ll need a mortgage in principle. To find out more about the best mortgages available for first-time buyers, this article on moneysavingexpert.com is a great resource. Once you have agreed on a theoretical mortgage you’ll be in a much stronger position when viewing houses and eventually proceeding with your purchase.

3. Decide what you want from a house

When buying your first home, it helps to think about what you want to get out of it. Do you want to live in a specific location? How many bedrooms do you need? How much DIY do you want to do? Are you looking for an energy-efficient home that’s cheap to run? Think about your priorities and make a list of must-have features. But with all of this in mind, it’s best to see if your budget will stretch to have everything on your list. It’s a good idea to be realistic with all of your wants, as you don’t want to be disappointed along the way.

4. Arrange viewings

Next you’ll need to use property websites, agents and developers to book viewings of homes within your budget. If you can, arrange the viewings back-to-back over the course of a few days. This way you can compare and contrast each viewing whilst they are fresh in your mind.

5. Go on your first and second viewings

When buying your first home, it can be easy to get caught up in the moment. So, make sure you ask plenty of questions during the viewings. Take notes and snap pictures of each room. Whittle your list down to a handful of favourites and arrange second viewings. At this stage it’s always worth spending time in the local area, especially if you’re moving to a place that’s unfamiliar.

6. Reserve your new home

If you’ve seen a house you want to buy, the next step is to put down a reservation. This means that the house is taken off the market and is now one-step closer to being yours.

7. Secure your mortgage

Once you have reserved your home, it’s time to finalise your mortgage. This will be the final stage in securing your finances. There are lots of options to choose from, so finding the right mortgage for you is important.

8. Get a survey

The type of survey you choose will mainly depend on the age of the house as older homes will need a more in-depth structural assessment. As an absolute minimum you will need to have a Valuation Survey done for your mortgage company using their surveyor. But remember, this is only really to confirm the value of the property and not to identify any hidden issues that it might have. You could choose to use the mortgage company’s surveyor to conduct more in-depth surveys, or you may prefer to appoint your own.

Also consider asking for recommendations from friends, family and colleagues when choosing your surveyor – it’s important your surveyor is fully-qualified and trustworthy as they’ll be identifying any potential issues.

9. Instruct a conveyancing solicitor

Your conveyancing solicitor will handle the legal aspect of the sale including drawing up contracts, contacting Land Registry and paying Stamp Duty if it’s owed. Ask for recommendations for reputable solicitors as this part of the process could become complicated if you choose the wrong one.

10. Exchange and complete

The house should be taken off the market when your offer is accepted. When you’re ready to exchange you’ll have everything in order including your mortgage, surveys, buildings insurance and deposit.

The amount of time between exchange and completion varies – it could be on the same day but it typically takes around 2 weeks. When you complete, you’ll pick up the keys, and the house will be yours.

Are you a first-time buyer looking to own a new build home? Barratt Homes  have a range of houses to suit your needs. Search for a development near you, today.