Buying your first home: a step-by-step guide

Buying your first home is an exciting time but the process can also be daunting. Read on to find out what steps you need to to take when buying your first property.

Preparing to buy your first home

Before you decide to buy your first home, it is important that you carry out some simple preparation. If you will be buying with the help of a mortgage, it is essential to check your credit report and make sure that you correct any errors you find. You can improve your credit rating by keeping up to date with any loan repayments and paying off existing debts as far as possible. Having a good credit rating will help to ensure that you have the best choice of mortgage deals.

Look carefully at your finances to establish how much you have towards a deposit, and how much you can afford to borrow. It is important that you factor in the costs of buying the property such as conveyancing fees, searches and stamp duty and that you ensure your projected mortgage repayments are affordable. Don’t forget to factor in any planned lifestyle changes such as having children, or the effect of mortgage rates rising in the future.

OneDome’s Mortgage Passport, our online mortgage tool, can help you find out quickly and easily how much you can afford to borrow. You can also use your Mortgage Passport to browse over 12,000 mortgage products from 90+ lenders, giving you the options you need to find a mortgage that works for you.

Looking for your new home

Once you know how much you can afford to pay for your new home and, ideally, with a mortgage in principle, you can start to view properties. When you are visiting a property try to imagine it without the current owner’s furniture, possessions and decorative choices.

Putting in an offer on the property

When you have found a property you like, you will need to put in an offer by contacting the estate agent dealing with the sale. The estate agent will liaise with the owner and tell you whether your offer has been accepted. The estate agent will ask to see ‘proof of funds’, that is, evidence that you have a Mortgage in Principle (MIP, also known as an Agreement in Principle) and a deposit. You will also need to show the estate agent satisfactory identity documents to comply with money laundering legislation and give the estate agent details of the conveyancer you will be using.

OneDome provides an easy way to find a quality-assured conveyancing solicitor and obtain instant, accurate quotes for your conveyancing.

What happens after your offer has been accepted?

Once your offer has been accepted, the conveyancer you have instructed will ask you for your identity documents and, probably, a sum of money to cover the cost of searches and other expenses. You will need to contact your mortgage company or mortgage broker to begin the mortgage process too.

Your mortgage company will instruct a surveyor to value the property on their behalf. You may wish to either pay extra to upgrade the valuation survey to a homebuyers’ report or full survey, depending upon the age and type of the property, or to instruct your own surveyor.

Your conveyancer will carry out the necessary conveyancing searches on the property. These include a local search for matters such as planning permissions and developments in the area, land registry searches and environmental searches together with some specifics such as coal mining searches which may apply in certain areas. The conveyancer will also check the legal ownership of the property and any rights which it is subject to, and raise enquiries with the seller’s conveyancer. Click here to read more about what conveyancing is.

The legal process

Once your conveyancer has all the necessary information about the property, they will provide you with a full report. This will include details as to exactly what is included in the purchase.

You will be asked to sign the contract, the mortgage and transfer documents, and to let your conveyancer have the money necessary to pay their bill, the Stamp Duty and the balance of the purchase price. The conveyancer will also report separately to your mortgage company.

You should make sure that you read everything the conveyancer gives to you carefully, and respond to your conveyancer promptly to avoid any delays.

Your conveyancer will check with you first before they ‘exchange contracts’ with the seller’s conveyancer. Exchanging contracts commits both parties to going ahead with the sale on a fixed date, known as the completion date. Traditionally, there is usually a period of 7 to 14 days between exchange and completion but they can happen on the same day if everyone agrees.

The completion date is moving day. On the completion date, your conveyancer will send the money to buy the property to the seller’s conveyancer. Once the money has been received and the transfer document has been dated, the keys to the property will be released to you and you can move into your new home. Make sure you check any utility meters and note the opening readings as soon as you move in. You’ll need to make arrangements to change your address.

Your conveyancer will file your stamp duty return on your behalf and register the property at the Land Registry. Registration at the Land Registry can take some time, but when you do receive the registration documents back, it is important that you do as your conveyancer will ask and check them carefully, for example, that your personal details are correct and that the plan of the property matches up with what you believe you have bought.

How can OneDome help?

OneDome’s conveyancing service simplifies conveyancing for everyone, including those buying their first property, by moving everything online and in one place. By making it possible for home movers and estate agents to track the progress of the conveyancing in real time, both parties get full visibility. This, in turn, speeds up the conveyancing process, meaning estate agents complete sales faster and home movers can buy or sell a property quicker than with traditional methods.

OneDome, everything you need to complete your move.