1. Check your budget

Prior to searching for a home, our advice is to speak with a mortgage advisor who can assess your budget and the best mortgage products for your situation.

Online calculators are great, but an agreement in principle will carry more weight when making an offer and offer you some peace of mind that a bank has assessed your finances and is happy to lend. Be sure to investigate other costs associated with buying like stamp duty, legal fees, and check if there are any mortgage arrangement fees involved.

If you need any help with this, we are happy to point you in the right direction.

2. What type of property / area is right for me?

Now you have your budget, look into which areas are most suited to what’s important to you and where you can picture yourself living. We also recommend taking a drive around locally to narrow down certain areas you really want to live in.

Consider property types too, do you want a leasehold apartment or a freehold house? Garden, no garden? Semi-detached or detached? There are many different types of homes, a local experienced agent can help you decide which is most suitable for you.

3. Go out viewing

Once you finally decide which area and type of home you would like to see, it is now time for the fun part, viewing homes. Our advice is to keep an open mind, often your requirements can change slightly during the viewing process.

Register with estate agents who cover your preferred areas, they will then be able to email/call you with new properties coming to the market.

Subscribe to their social media channels, they often offer previews of what's coming to the market! The more homes you view, the better idea you will have of what’s most important and it will offer comparisons when it comes to placing an offer.

Most estate agents now offer preview videos or an 'online viewing' which can help narrow down what you want without a physical viewing, as it is sometimes difficult to have the time to view everything.

4. Make an offer

When it comes to making an offer, consult with your mortgage advisor beforehand, as you can check if the property meets your preferred lender's requirements. We always recommend that you make an offer in person or on the phone.

You’ll be asked for information about your position: preferred timescales, mortgage situation and if you have appointed a conveyancer.

When completing solicitor forms, feel free to give us a call if you need any assistance.

5. Your offer has been accepted

Congratulations, but the hard work starts here. The most important decision you have to make now is to appoint a conveyancer. Make sure you do your research. The agent may recommend a solicitor, who they often work with and have had good experiences with.

A great question to ask a conveyancer before you instruct is what their current caseload is and what their current average completion time. We’ve found some solicitors cap the amount they work with to ensure a higher level of customer service, but some larger volume companies can be trying to deal with 2-3 times this amount, which often leads to delays.

Price can be a big factor when appointing a conveyancer but a cheaper quote could cost you more money by the end of the process, as delays or even a failed purchase could cost you excess of £1,500.

If a company could answer these types of questions and as a result save you weeks/months (not to mention the headache), they could very well end up being the overall cheapest option to you.

This is also the time to conduct a survey on the property, which we would always advise you do.

5. Good communication

Ensure all channels of communication are kept fully open between your solicitor, yourself and the estate agent. The better the contact and more responsive you are to all questions raised; the quicker and smoother the sale can move for all parties involved.

On average, the legal part of the process usually takes approx. 16 weeks.

6. Exchange, then completion day

Exchange of contracts happens once the sale contract is exchanged between the buyer’s and seller’s solicitor, just before you will be required to transfer deposit money and agree on a completion date (move date) to conclude the exchange.

Once the sale is exchanged, all parties can relax as the sale is now legally binding.

On the morning of the agreed completion date, the solicitor or estate agent will contact you to confirm when they are able to meet you at the property to collect the keys.

Now is the time to enjoy your new home!