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Buying your first home - the end to end process

You have decided you are ready to start the search for your first home, but what actually happens from the moment you start your search, right through to that all important key handover & obligatory photo-in-front-of- the-door day? Read on for a detailed step by step guide of what to expect from the home buying process, put together by our mortgage broker, Finola.


Your first property search

You're using alerts on Rightmove, Zoopla, On The Market. Check out Purple Bricks, Yopa & Strike for potential bargains. Get an Agreement in Principle from a lender to show what you can borrow and pass credit checks. We can help with that! It's not a mortgage offer but shows you're pre-approved.


Making an offer

You've found your dream home and you're ready to make an offer. Before diving in, check with the estate agent about ground rent or service charges (usually applicable only to leasehold properties but sometimes freehold too), property restrictions, and any immediate issues or needed works. Also, enquire about nearby building developments or recent planning applications in the local area. Understand the seller's situation to gauge potential chains and their timelines. Being a first-time buyer, you're not tied to a chain, giving you an edge. Knowing the chain's status can help you navigate the process more smoothly.


Offer accepted!

The sellers have accepted your offer, so instruct your solicitor for the purchase. The estate agent will provide a Memorandum of Sale with details like the agreed purchase price and seller's solicitor info. The Mortgage Company can recommend and refer you to conveyancers who can begin working on your purchase using their online portal.


Applying for your first mortgage

Time for the mortgage application! We'll use an online Fact Find to collect your details like income, expenses, and credit history. Complete this while house hunting to speed things up post-offer. We'll need your payslips, accounts (if self-employed), bank statements, proof of address, and ID. After your offer's accepted, we'll research lenders and suggest the best options tailored for you. You'll get a mortgage illustration outlining product details, payments, and features. We'll discuss it together to ensure everything is clear. Once you're happy, we'll apply to the lender for you.


Valuation - mortgage & RICS surveys

After you apply, the lender will send a surveyor for a mortgage valuation to ensure the property's suitable as security. This won't cover all issues, but major ones like roof or damp might result in a "retention" where they hold funds for repairs. The valuation report also confirms the valuer agrees you have paid what the property is worth at that time. For peace of mind on potential issues, consider getting your own RICS survey, ranging from basic to full structural survey. See our blog on RICS Surveys here:


Mortgage approval

If the property valuation and underwriter assessment go well, the next step is the mortgage offer. There might be some back-and-forth with the lender for additional documents or clarifications. We aim to have everything ready upfront to keep things smooth. Once approved, the offer goes to us, you, and your solicitor. Your solicitor will review it and handle any lender conditions, reaching out if more info is needed.


Solicitor searches and enquiries

Your solicitor will conduct property searches with the Local Authority for planning, highways, and environmental issues. They'll also handle water, drainage, and land registry searches, plus any specific to the property like coal mining. You'll cover these costs upfront. Enquiries between solicitors address offer conditions and other details, which can take time due to third-party responses. Finally, you'll sign the mortgage deed and send it back to your solicitor.


Exchange of contracts

After completing searches and enquiries, you're ready to exchange contracts, transferring ownership to you. Send an "exchange deposit" to your solicitor, which can count towards your property deposit, showing commitment. At this point, set the completion date for moving preparations. Make sure you have buildings insurance in place by exchange, as the property legally becomes yours and you'll need coverage until completion.



A completion date will be agreed upon and set between your solicitors and the seller's solicitors. once the day arrives, all that is left is for you to collect the keys from the estate agents at a suitable time once the house has been vacated (if not already empty) and you can head to your new home! NB: As a mortgage is secured on your home, your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Please note this timeline of events is not exhaustive but rather gives an indication of the main stages to expect when purchasing a home


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