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A Step-by-step House Buying Guide

At Open House, we understand that the process of buying a house can be daunting.

The decisions made when sealing a deal could save you – or cost you – many thousands of pounds.

So this is why we’ve made this easy to follow, step-by-step house buying guide to take you through the ins and outs of it all.


Decide where you want to live

If you’re exploring towns or neighbourhoods you haven’t lived in before, it might be worth spending a night or two to check out the commute, shops, restaurants and general atmosphere. Even if you’ve lived in the area your whole life, it’s important to do some digging on the area you want to buy in before signing on the dotted line.

Things to check for include:

Transport links

Being close to a station or motorway can push up a property’s value.

Crime levels

Check the frequency and type of crime in the area online.

School catchment areas

Prices can be higher in the catchment area of good schools.

Development applications

A new factory nearby might decrease the home’s value while a new property development in the local area could attract investment.

This is an important part of the process of buying a house because if you turn tail, you’ll either be unhappy with where you live or face significant moving costs again!


Save for a mortgage deposit

Usually, it’s a good idea to save up a deposit of at least 5% of the property price you want to buy. But ideally, it’s more often worth saving more if possible as a bigger deposit means you can apply for mortgage deals with lower interest rates and potentially afford to spend more on your new property.

And if you’re looking to borrow a mortgage from a provider, how much they lend you will depend on your income, credit score and deposit size. If you’re buying a home with other people, the lender takes their finances into account too.

Remember to budget for any added costs of buying a home, such as surveys and conveyancing – depending on the cost of the property and whether you’re a first-time buyer.


Apply for a mortgage agreement in principle (AIP)

Essentially, an AIP or ‘mortgage promise’ is confirmation for a mortgage lender that they would be willing to lend you a certain amount. This is an important step in this guide to buying a house as an AIP can make you a more attractive buyer, showing estate agents and sellers you’re able to secure the finances needed for house purchase.


Register with estate agents

After you’ve narrowed down your chosen area(s) in the process of buying a house, register with local estate agents.

This is free and actively keeping in touch with them could increase your chances of finding your ideal home, as agents oftentimes contact registered buyers before listing a property online.


View properties in person

As well as viewing homes online, it’s important to see them in person to give you an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. You never know, it might give you that ‘feeling’ that you’ve found the place you want to live.

It might also be worth viewing it more than once or at different times of the day as you might pick up on problems that aren’t noticeable on your first visit.


Make an offer

It’s quite common to offer less than the asking price so don’t be afraid to ask. But in other instances, you may have competition from other buyers and may need to offer the asking price or more. Check online for properties in the same neighbourhood that have sold as it will help you work out how much the property is worth.

After finalising an offer, tell your estate agent over the phone or in person, but it may be worth putting it in writing too.


Apply for a mortgage

What kind of mortgage do you want to apply for? Help-to-buy or buy-to-let? Or maybe fixed-rate is better suited to your financial situation?

Whatever the case may be, this is an important step in our house buying guide as you will want to verify how long you will be spending paying it off (25 years is the norm).


Hire a property solicitor or conveyancer

In the process of buying a house, conveyancing is the legal process that takes place after an offer is accepted.

In England and Wales, this includes carrying out searches, checking contracts and dealing with the Land Registry as well as paying any stamp duty.


Decide if you want a property survey

Your mortgage lender will require a valuation by a surveyor to ensure your home is good enough to lend against. This isn’t a property survey and only looks superficially at the property. But it is still usually worth getting one done to evaluate the condition of the property and alert you to any potential problems you will face once you move in.

With recent changes to property surveys, buyers have more options due to Covid-19. The main decision is whether to get a survey or opt for a “survey and valuation” to supplement the bank’s survey so keep this in mind.


Arrange a deposit

Arranging a deposit is imperative to our house buying guide – before exchanging contracts, you need to arrange a deposit of 10% of the sale price of the property to give to your solicitor or conveyance.

You should either have the deposit from the mortgage arranged for the whole property but if not, you may be able to raise it from the sale of your existing home (if that completes prior to the exchange of your new property purchase).


Exchange contracts

A contract exchange occurs when the buyer and seller’s legal representatives swap signed contracts and the buyer pays the deposit. But before this, as the buyer, you will probably need to have these prepared in advance:

A written mortgage offer

An agreed completion date

Buildings insurance in place from the day of exchange

(if you’re buying a new-build it will be after completion)


Complete the sale and move in

Completion usually takes place within a month of exchange, but this is flexible and you can agree to a convenient date with the seller. And on completion day, the money is transferred to the seller and you can then collect the keys from the estate agent to move into your new home.

Next comes the much more enjoyable task of starting to furnish and decorate everything to your taste – or maybe even taking that much needed moment of relaxation.

We Can Be Your House Buying Guide and Estate Agent

At Open House, we make the process of buying a house easier. Our team of expert professionals can help you find your ideal property in Leicester, putting you in the strongest possible position as a buyer.

Get in touch!

Contact us today and get the ball rolling!

Alternatively, you can check out our properties available for rent or if you’re looking to purchase, you can check out our property search database.

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