Before you even look
at any property pay a visit to a couple
of mortgage providers and brokers. If you're
on your own, most lenders will let you have
a mortgage roughly three and a half times
your annual salary and if you're buying
as a couple there are a number of different
combinations. The trick is to find the one
that suits you best. Since most lenders
will only let you borrow 95 per cent of
the value of a property, you'll also have
to find a deposit - and you'll need up to
£1,000 to cover other expenses like
lawyers' and surveyors' fees.
If you haven't got
enough saved, some lenders are offering
mortgages of 100 per cent or more, but be
careful of these as you may be tempted to
over-stretch yourself. Many mortgages also
include arrangement fees and can hold a
few surprises in the small print - so shop
around before deciding on a loan. It's a
good idea to get an 'in-principle' decision
from the lender, in case of any problems
with your credit rating.
Once you know what
you can spend it's time to start house hunting.
You can do this over the internet, by registering
with several estate agents or even walking
or driving around areas you're interested
in, looking for estate agents' signs - it's
up to you.
Estate agents act
on behalf of their clients to provide information
to prospective buyers and arrange viewings
on appointment. Don't just arrange to view
one property, look at several so you can
judge what you'll get for your money, and
what best fits your requirements. Inspect
each property closely with a critical eye.
Don't forget to ask
the sellers some probing questions, such
as why they are selling, how long they have
lived there, have they had problems with
the property, what work they have had done
to it, are there any problems with the neighbours.
The law of 'buyer
beware' applies to house sales - so if you
don't ask, they don't have to tell you.
Asking the sellers if they already have
somewhere to move to can save a lot of time
and trouble - especially if they are just
testing the market and don't intend to move.
When you find the
home for you, the next step is to put in
an offer on it. Remember that the price
the property is advertised as is only the
asking price and you should make an offer,
subject to survey and contract, based on
the state of the market and your knowledge.
Bargaining face-to-face with the seller
is a useful tactic.
If you're a first-time
buyer tell the seller, as this will add
weight to your offer. The offer may vary
and you can also pull out of the sale if
the survey or searches uncover problems.
Once your offer has
been accepted, you must get the process
moving by putting in your mortgage application
and hiring a solicitor to deal with conveyancing.
Although the mortgage lender will carry
out its own valuation survey on the property,
this is only very basic so it's a good idea
to hire your own surveyor to carry out a
homebuyer survey as well.
In the case of older
or unusual properties, it's a good idea
to get a full structural survey instead,
which gives you a comprehensive report.
This part of the process can be the most
stressful, as it can be hit by delays and
problems. And if the survey turns up previously
unknown problems with the house, don't be
afraid to renegotiate the price.
Assuming all goes
well, you'll be able to exchange contracts
after a few weeks, after which point there
is no backing out of the purchase. At this
stage you become responsible for the property,
and your mortgage lender will insist on
you insuring the building and, if you have
dependants, insuring your life to cover
takes place a few days or weeks after this
and you'll be able to move into your new