Our step-by-step checklist guides you from making an offer right through to getting the keys to your first home.
Getting On The Property Ladder
So you’ve found a place. Congratulations! Exciting news. Now the fun really begins. So, what next?
Make An Offer
Before you make your offer, make sure:
You know (and agree with your partner, if relevant) the top end of your budget… and don’t go over it!
You’re as attractive as possible to the vendor and estate agents:
Ensure you have an ‘agreement in principle’ (or ‘decision in principle’) ready to go, to boost your chances of getting your offer accepted
Highlight that you’re a first time buyer and therefore come with no chain
Communicate that you can move quickly, if relevant
Ensure that you have a solicitor waiting in the wings, to prove you can move quickly
To avoid offering exactly what the property is listed at, as many vendors add 10% when they list their asking price
To use websites like Zoopla and Rightmove to understand vital information on property price history, such as:
How much the vendor originally bought the property for
How long ago they bought it
Whether they have previously reduced the price
Comparative property prices in the same area
How property prices in the area have risen or fallen
To find out as much as possible about the vendor. For example:
Are they in a rush to sell?
Are they in a chain or not?
Are they ready to place an offer themselves?
It’s always worth remembering that estate agents are acting on behalf of the vendor, not you.
Getting Approved For A Mortgage
So your offer was accepted. Yay! Now it’s time to apply for your mortgage and get it approved.
Decide whether you need a mortgage broker, and if so...
Get multiple broker quotes, not just the estate agent’s recommendation
Consider the different fee structures they offer
A useful note:
As part of the mortgage application process, the mortgage lender will conduct a valuation on the property. This is to ensure that the property is actually worth the money you are requesting to borrow.
This valuation is purely for the lender and is not to be confused with the “survey” which you’ll need to instruct a chartered surveyor to conduct, during the conveyancing process.
Kicking Off Conveyancing
So now you have your mortgage approved. Yay! It’s time to instruct a conveyancer.
Conveyancing is the legal process of moving homeownership from one person to another, carried out by a property solicitor, otherwise known as a conveyancer. Here are the steps you need to take:
Instruct a conveyancer -
DO get multiple quotes
DO ask for recommendations
DO NOT choose your estate agent’s recommendation
Agree and sign a contract between you and the solicitor
Your solicitor will engage with the vendor’s solicitor, to:
Confirm they have been instructed
Request a copy of the contract
Request other supporting documents + details
Your solicitor will then review all documentation and raise any queries
Ensure that the contract’s lease length (if applicable) matches your expectations
Your solicitor will carry out a set of legal searches to identify potential issues, such as checking the title plan and register
Your solicitor will also review your mortgage offer and the conditions
Your mortgage provider will have a valuation conducted – to provide assurance that the property you’re buying provides sufficient security for the loan
Lastly, you’ll need to buy buildings insurance before you can sign and exchange contracts
Well done! You made it through the lengthy and sometimes frustrating conveyancing process. You’re so near the finish line…
You and the vendor will need to sign both contracts, once:
All enquiries have been satisfied
You’ve confirmed fixtures and fittings
You’ve agreed a completion date
You’ve made arrangements to transfer your deposit to your solicitor
Make sure to visit the property before signing the contract to check the inventory
This is the last stage to go through, before you complete your purchase.
Both solicitors will read out and record the contracts over the phone, to make sure they are identical
Once confirmed, they will then send the contracts to each other
You will then agree a moving day with the vendor
You are now in a legally binding agreement!
Your solicitor will now lodge an interest in the property. The deeds to the property are frozen for 30 days
During this time you will:
Pay the seller
Apply to the Land Registry to transfer the deeds from the vendor to you
Receive a final statement from your solicitor, for payment before completion
During this time, the seller will move out of the property
Completing The Purchase
This is the day that the money is transferred to the vendor (via the solicitor) and you receive keys! HURRAY!
What To Expect From Your Solicitor After Completion
Pay Stamp Duty on your behalf (if relevant)
Send your legal documents, about 20 days after completion
Send a copy of your title deeds to your mortgage lender
Notify the freeholder if your property is leasehold
Aaaand that's it! You've done it. All that's left is to unpack and enjoy your new, first home. Congratulations!