A guide to home buying

Financial Preparation: Before embarking on the house-hunting journey, it is crucial to assess your financial readiness. Determine your budget and how much you can afford for a down payment, taking into account additional costs like solicitor fees, stamp duty land tax (SDLT), surveys, and moving expenses. Additionally, getting a mortgage agreement in principle from a lender can boost your confidence while house hunting.

Property Search: With your budget in mind, start your property search. Online portals, estate agents, and property listings in newspapers are valuable resources. Define your preferences and priorities, such as location, property type, number of bedrooms, proximity to schools, transport links, and amenities.

Viewings: Arrange viewings for properties that meet your criteria. Take your time during viewings to assess the property’s condition, potential repairs or renovations, and the neighbourhood. Ask questions about the property’s history, any known issues, and reasons for selling. It is essential to gather as much information as possible before making an offer.

Making an Offer: When you find the right property, it is time to make an offer.Your estate agent can help you negotiate a fair price with the seller. Keep in mind that the market conditions and demand for the property may influence your negotiating power. Once the seller accepts your offer, the property is considered to be under offer.

Conveyancing: Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property ownership. You will need a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to handle the legal aspects of the purchase. They will conduct property searches, review legal documents, and ensure all necessary checks are carried out. This process usually takes several weeks.

Mortgage Application: If you have not already secured a mortgage agreement in principle, now is the time to proceed with the formal mortgage application. Your lender will assess your financial situation, conduct a property valuation and make a formal mortgage offer.

Survey: It is advisable to commission a property survey to assess the property’s condition thoroughly. Different survey options are available, ranging from basic valuation surveys to more comprehensive structural surveys. A survey can identify any hidden issues, allowing you to make informed decisions.

Exchange of Contracts: Once the conveyancing process is complete, and all parties are satisfied with the terms, you will exchange contracts with the seller’s solicitor. At this point, the transaction becomes legally binding, and a completion date is set.

Completion: On the agreed completion date, the remaining funds are transferred to the seller, and you become the legal owner of the property. Your solicitor will register your ownership with the Land Registry.

Post-Completion: After completion, celebrate your new home! It is time to move in and make the property truly yours. Remember to update your address with relevant authorities and service providers.

In summary, buying a house in the UK involves careful financial planning, property searches, viewings, making an offer, conveyancing, mortgage application, surveys,

exchange of contracts, and completion. Each step requires attention to detail and patience, but with thorough preparation and professional guidance, the process can

be a rewarding and exciting journey towards homeownership.

*Nick Lawson is Wealth Management Director at Hunter Gee Holroyd accountants, York,