Whether you are looking for your dream home or want to buy a house as an investment, we have put together an easy to read guide on the home buying process.

Whether you are a first time buyer or buying a second home, our legal experts can help.

What type of property are you looking for?

You can begin your search for property online. Decide on which property type suits you. Do you prefer a new build property or are you looking for more conventional properties?

How much does the property condition matter to you? Are you prepared to do work at the house? If not then a new property may be a better option.

Visit your local estate agents and see what properties they can offer you to meet your requirements. Remember it is not just about the property itself. Consider things like transport links and proximity to schools, which can dramatically affect the valuation.

Next it's time to think about your budget.

Finding a house that is affordable

The most important part of the home buying process is understanding your budget. Most buyers should have a handle on how much they can afford and it's important not to exceed that figure.

An estate agent can give you a clearer picture of the house prices in certain areas or Watford and Hertfordshire as well as an overview of the area.

You should also do your own independent research of the area to help you make an informed decision.

There are various factors that may affect the asking price, including the seller's circumstances and the price of similar properties in the area.

Find a mortgage lender

Shop around to find the best mortgage deals and be aware of how changes to the Bank of England base rate may affect your monthly mortgage payments.

A mortgage lender can help you find the right mortgage that fits your needs and financial situation. They can help you compare rates, calculate payments, and provide guidance for budgeting. A mortgage broker will assess your credit score, income, and other details to determine what mortgages are available to you, helping you make the best choice of product from mortgage lenders.

There are a few factors that can affect how much a mortgage provider will lend you. Many lenders will look at the following:

  • your credit score
  • current income
  • debt-to-income ratio
  • the amount of money for a down payment

The lender may also consider the type of property being purchased, market conditions in the area where the property is located, and other assets that can be used to secure the loan.

The mortgage lender will need to make you a formal mortgage offer before you can start the conveyancing process and exchange contracts with the seller.

Life insurance to protect your mortgage

Life insurance and serious illness cover are used to protect the mortgage of a borrower upon death or critical illness.

This can provide a lump sum payout to cover the cost of the remaining balance on the mortgage, which can help ensure that your family are not saddled with a financial burden at an already difficult time.

It also offers peace of mind that loved ones will be able to stay in their home without having to worry about making repayments.

Home and buildings insurance to protect your home

Home and buildings insurance can provide protection against damage caused by a variety of events, such as fire, flooding, subsidence, theft, natural disasters and vandalism.

Having adequate insurance helps to minimise the financial impact of any damages that may occur.

It also provides peace of mind, knowing that you are covered in the event of an unexpected incident. Home and Buildings Insurance can help protect your assets if someone makes a claim against you.

Getting a Will

It is a good idea to write or update your will when buying a new home, as it provides clarity on ownership of the property should the worst happen.

It can also help to ensure that any assets or possessions in the home are distributed in accordance with the wishes of the homeowner, upon their death.

This can help to prevent family disputes or confusion at a difficult time, and ensures that all members of the family are taken care of financially if something were to happen. In some cases, getting a will can even reduce inheritance tax liabilities, making it an essential part of any financial planning when purchasing a new home.

Find out more about making a will.

The conveyancing process

The conveyancing process in the UK is a legal transfer of property ownership from one person to another.

The process begins with a buyer and seller agreeing on a sale price and signing an agreement of sale.

The buyer then instructs a solicitor or conveyancer to act on their behalf to oversee the conveyancing process. The solicitor will carry out various searches to confirm details about the property, apply for documents such as title deeds, and liaise with other parties involved in the sale. Once all necessary checks have been completed and contracts exchanged, the buyer’s funds can be transferred and the seller signs over all ownership rights of the property to the buyer.

How long does the conveyancing process take?

As the new owner of a property, you do not want any hidden surprises. As such, the conveyancing process needs to be thorough and can be a little time consuming

In some cases taking more than 12 weeks, depending on the 3rd parties involved, from the time that you instruct a property solicitor to moving into your new home.

This can depend on various factors including the speed of local authority searches on the property, third parties such as managing agents/ landlords and surveys. 

Your solicitor will advise you on stamp duty payments as well as ensuring that the change of ownership is registered with the land registry.

Your solicitor will also deal with all correspondence from the seller's solicitor and will arrange the drawdown of the mortgage. 

Using chartered surveyors

A Chartered Surveyor can provide an independent and impartial report on the condition of the building and any issues that need to be addressed. The surveyor will provide information about any potential defects or risks associated with the property, as well as advice on whether further investigations or surveys are needed. This helps to ensure that buyers are aware of any potential problems before signing a purchase agreement and proceeding with buying a home.

Getting a home survey helps to save you money further down the line as it will reduce the chances of hidden damage and repair costs.

Be aware of the different levels of survey that your property may need. Older buildings may need a level three structural survey whereas newbuilds may only require a snagging survey to determine a list of potential problems.

Arrange a survey

A mortgage valuation is an assessment carried out by a professional surveyor to determine the current market value of a property. It looks at factors like size, condition, age, and location.

The report also contains information about any risks or defects that may affect the value of the property. The report is usually used for mortgage applications and will be required before agreeing to grant a loan.

What should first time buyers be aware of?

First-time buyers should be aware of a few key things when buying property.

Firstly, they need to understand their budget and look for properties within the price range they can afford. They should also research the area they are interested in and consider any potential issues, such as nearby developments or even crime rates. Additionally, it is important to understand the process of purchasing a home, including all legal requirements, inspection costs, conveyancing fees, and the mortgage application and approval processes.

First-time buyers should consider any additional costs associated with buying a home such as repairs that may be needed for the property.

Completion date

The completion date is the day when ownership of a property legally passes from the seller to the buyer. It marks the end of the contracts exchange process, which usually takes place several weeks after financial checks and surveys are completed. On this date, unless otherwise agreed between both parties, the balance of money due is paid by the buyer and exchanged for keys and ownership of the property.


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