Steps to buying a house

Buying a new house is an exciting step in anyone’s life. It’s a chance to discover a new area, meet new people and create your own space. However, there are various stages involved with the process of buying a new house which can get confusing.

The average age of a first-time buyer is 34 years old, which means that many younger people will be more familiar with the renting process than that of buying a property. This can be an issue when first time buyers – or even individuals who haven’t bought a new property in a while.

In this article, we’ll look at the various stages that are involved with the process of buying a house, from first looking around properties to when you exchange contracts.

What are the steps to buying a house?

The most important step in the house buying process is to consider how much you can reasonably afford and then find a house that you want and has an asking price in the right region. You will also have to find out how much mortgage you can borrow from a mortgage lender, which will be based on your credit score, income and the size of the deposit that you can put down.

Some of the other costs and factors you need to consider when buying a house include getting a quote from a solicitor to find out how much the legal side will cost you and hiring removal companies for when you finally have the keys to your property. The exchange of contracts between the buyer and seller is one of the final hurdles to cross before you are able to move into your new home.

Continue reading to find out what you should consider when buying a house, such as the amount of time that the buying process takes and the things to consider when looking around properties.

How long is the process of buying a house?

There are many stages to the house buying process, as well as various costs. However, the overall time that it takes to buy a property depends on the type of house, the number of other people involved in the chain (if any) and how quickly the paperwork can be filed.

If you are already a homeowner, the process is slightly different than if you are a first-time buyer because there will likely be a chain of buyers and sellers. This means that you are reliant on the sale of the other houses in the chain to go smoothly so that you can sell your old house and successfully purchase your new one.

Buyers who aren’t involved in a chain can expect to complete the process within 15 weeks of an offer being made and then accepted. Buyers who are part of a chain, on the other hand, may have to wait up to six months before they find that their offer has been accepted.

A mortgage agreement in principle can be accepted within 24 hours of approaching a lender, but finding and making an offer on your new home could take from a few weeks to a few months. It helps to speed up the process if you have a clear list of things that you are looking for in a home, as well as the price range that you are willing to make an offer in.

After the formal mortgage offer has been accepted, you could be waiting a further 4 to 12 weeks to complete the pre-contract stage. This includes getting your mortgage accepted, the conveyancer drafting the contracts and conducting a property survey and search.

The exchange of contracts can take from 20 to 30 days to complete. This is when the conveyancing process begins, such as the swap of the signed copies of the contracts between the buyers and sellers in the chain. During this period, there are a few things that you can do, such as buying buildings insurance, signing the necessary documents and drawing funds from mortgage lenders.

Following this, you will need to pay Stamp Duty, register your ownership of the property and get a copy of the property’s deeds. These tasks can take a further two weeks before the completion date.

What are the key things to consider when buying a house?

Before you start contacting estate agents for house viewings, it’s important to think about the amount that you can spend on a new property, the size and style of the house you want and the location. It’s essential that you don’t spend more on the property purchase than you can comfortably afford because there are many additional costs that you will need to consider, such as Stamp Duty, Land Tax and furnishings for your property.

It’s good to remember that there is no formal agreement between the buyer and seller until the contracts have been formally exchanged. This means that either party can back out of the agreement because they are not legally bound yet. You may also find that another potential buyer offers a higher purchase price than you, which could cause the seller to back out of your initial deal. It is advisable to ask the seller to take the house off the market as part of your offer so that there isn’t the risk of it being sold to a higher bidder.

The local area will be a key factor in your decision of choosing a house. Some of the things to consider include the school catchment areas, transport services, local infrastructure and crime levels. You may also want to look into potential risks such as flooding or planning applications that could impact you in the future.

Local schools can increase the prices of houses as good schools are more desirable and can therefore push prices up. The desirability of the houses in the area can also increase house prices, which means that you could find yourself at the higher end of your budget if there are multiple potential buyers bidding on the same property.

Once you have picked the area that you want to live in, you can approach an estate agent to discuss the available properties that suit your tastes and requirements. Estate agents often contact their clients with new listings before they publish them publically, which means that you could get a headstart over other potential buyers.

FAQs

When is the best time to buy a house?

Most houses go on sale during the spring or autumn months, just before or after the dreary winter months. Houses and gardens tend to look more appealing in the spring sunshine with the blooms out in full force and many buyers look to settle down in their new house before the colder months set in.
Winter and summer tend to be quieter months for buyers on the housing market, which can mean that there is less competition and you are able to get your ideal house quicker. Unfortunately, there isn’t a set time in the year when houses are available at a bargain price. The main factor in the price of properties is the seller’s circumstances and how much they are willing to sell their house for. They may lower the price if the house has been on the market for a while or they want to sell quickly.

Is it better to rent or buy a property?

Most people have their preferences when it comes to renting or buying properties, so it really comes down to personal opinions and circumstances. Some people are forced to rent because they don’t have the finances to buy their own property. Rent can sometimes work out cheaper in the short term, but it really depends on the type of property and how many people are helping to cover the costs.
The cost of rent reached a record high in February 2022, but renting a property can work out quicker and more flexible than buying a house. Some rental contracts only last a few months, which means that individuals aren’t tied to a property for an extended period of time if they don’t want to be.
Homeowners tend to have more security because there isn’t the risk of getting evicted by the landlord or an increase in the monthly rent. After paying off the mortgage, the property will belong to the homeowners, whereas tenants won’t own their rented property, no matter how many years they live there.

Summary

There is a lot of paperwork involved with property purchases, such as the exchange of contracts and registering the property with HM Land Registry and mortgage applications. Most of these steps can be done with the assistance of estate agents, conveyancers and mortgage lenders.

It’s important that you check how much you can afford to spend on a house, including extra costs such as Stamp Duty and solicitor fees. You will also need to research the cost of insuring the house, as well as hiring a removal company to help you move into your new property.