Banner image featuring a range of properties for sale on the Hamptons website

Steps to Buying a House - Future Homeowners Guide

Guide to Buying a House

Process of Buying a House

Buying a house is a significant milestone for many people. It's a major financial investment that requires careful consideration and planning. The process of buying a house can be complex, but with the right knowledge and guidance, it can be a smooth and rewarding experience. We will outline each step of the purchasing process in this guide, along with what each step entails.

Steps to Buying a House

1. Understanding Your Budget

When it comes to buying a house, understanding your budget is crucial. This section will provide you with some essential information on how to assess your financial situation, decide whether to sell first, and get mortgage pre-approval.

Decide Whether To Sell First

If you already own a home, you'll need to decide whether to sell it before buying a new one. If you decide to sell first, you'll need to factor in the cost of selling your home, including estate agent fees and legal fees. You'll also need to consider the time it takes to sell a home and find a new one. If you are looking to sell your house, contact one of our local branches , and our expert agents will take care of you throughout the process of selling your house.

If you decide to buy first, you'll need to arrange suitable finance. You'll also need to be prepared to move quickly when you find a new home, as you'll want to sell your current one as soon as possible.

Assessing Your Financial Situation

Before you start looking for a house, you need to assess your financial situation. This includes calculating your income, expenses, and debts. You should also consider any savings you have and how much you can realistically afford to put towards a deposit.

One way to get an idea of your budget is to use an online valuation tool. We offer an online house valuation service that can provide you with an estimate of your current property's value. This can help you determine how much equity you have in your current home and how much you can afford to spend on a new one.

If you are looking for a more accurate valuation of your property’s worth, book an expert valuation with us today, and one of our experienced agents will carry out an in-depth analysis of the market and your property to provide you with a clear and accurate house valuation.

Mortgage Pre-Approval

Getting mortgage pre-approval is an essential step in the home-buying process. This involves getting a commitment from a lender to lend you a certain amount of money based on your credit score, income, and other financial factors.

Getting pre-approval for a mortgage can help you determine your budget and make you a more attractive buyer to sellers. It can also help you avoid the disappointment of falling in love with a home you can't afford.

At Hamptons, we partner with Capital Private Finance, an independent mortgage broker, to provide you with a financial service that is specifically catered to your needs and requirements, so you can start the mortgage pre-approval process.

2. Finding the Right Location

When buying a house, another important factor to consider is the location. The right location can make all the difference in terms of quality of life and property value. Here are some tips for finding the right location.

Researching Neighbourhoods

Before buying a house, it's important to research the neighbourhood. This includes looking at school ratings, transport links and property values. You can use an area comparison tool, such as the one provided byWhich? to find out about house prices, council tax, and demographic data for the town you're considering. You’ll also want to visit the neighbourhood at different times of the day to get a sense of the area's atmosphere.

Proximity to Amenities

When choosing a location, it's important to consider the proximity to amenities. This includes things like shops, restaurants, parks, and public transportation. You can use property search tips, such as the ones provided by MSE , to help. As well as the HomeOwners Alliance's guide on choosing a new area to live in to help you decide on an area you can afford.

With 92 branches spread out across the UK, we have the skills and knowledge to guide you through the purchasing process and find your ideal house. To begin your house search, contact us today .

3. Choosing a House Type

When it comes to choosing a house type, there are a number of factors to consider. Two important sub-sections to consider are Different House Styles and New Build versus Existing Property.

Different House Styles

There are many different house styles to choose from, each with its own unique characteristics.

  • Victorian: Characterised by ornate details and large windows, Victorian homes are often found in older neighbourhoods.
  • Georgian: Georgian homes are known for their symmetrical design, with a central front door and evenly spaced windows.
  • Edwardian: Similar to Victorian homes, Edwardian homes feature large windows and ornate details, but with a slightly more modern design.
  • Bungalow: Bungalows are typically one-storey homes with a low-pitched roof and a front porch.
  • Cottage: Often found in rural areas, cottages are small, cosy homes with thatched roofs and exposed beams.

When choosing a house style, it's important to consider both aesthetic preferences and practical considerations. For example, a larger family may want a house with more bedrooms, while someone who works from home may need a dedicated office space.

New Build versus Existing Property

Another important factor to consider when choosing a house type is whether to buy a new build or an existing property

New build homes are brand new and have never been lived in before. They often come with modern features and energy-efficient designs, but they can also be more expensive than resale properties. Read our ‘Buying a New Build’ guide, to learn more about the process of buying a new build.

Existing properties, on the other hand, have been lived in before and may require some maintenance or updates. However, they are often more affordable than newly built homes and are located in more established neighbourhoods.

When deciding between a new build and an existing property, it's important to consider factors such as budget, location, and personal preferences. You may prefer the convenience and modern features of a new build home, while you may prefer the charm and character of an older property.

4. Working with Estate Agents

When buying a house, estate agents are an important part of the process. We can help you find properties that meet your requirements, arrange viewings and handle negotiations. Here are a few tips for working with us:

  • Be clear about your requirements: We are more likely to show you properties that meet your requirements if you are clear about what you are looking for. This includes the type of property, location, budget, and any specific features you require.
  • Do your own research: While we can provide valuable information about properties and areas, it's important to do your own research too. This includes checking property prices in the area, researching local schools and amenities, and finding out about any planned developments that could affect the property's value.
  • Consider using a solicitor or licenced conveyancer: At Jackson-Stops we can recommend a solicitor or licenced conveyancer to handle the legal side of the purchase, but it's worth shopping around to find the right one for you. Look for someone who is experienced in property law and has good reviews from previous clients.
  • Keep communication open: Good communication is key to a successful purchase. Make sure you keep in regular contact with the estate agent and ask any questions you may have.

We’re proud to show that we are rated ‘Excellent’ on TrustPilot due to the hard work our agents undertake. Get in touch with us today and let us help you find your next home.

5. Making an Offer

Once you have found a property you are interested in, the next step is to make an offer. This can be a nerve-wracking process, but with some preparation, it can be a smooth and successful experience and an exciting one!

Negotiation Strategies

Negotiating the price of a property can be a delicate process. It's important to approach negotiations with a clear understanding of the property's value and the seller's motivations. Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Research similar properties in the area to get an idea of the market value.
  • Determine the seller's motivation for selling. Are they in a hurry to sell? Are they emotionally attached to the property?
  • Decide if you want a structural survey carried out and be clear if your offer is ‘subject to survey’.
  • Consider making a lower offer than the asking price, but be prepared to negotiate. Remember that ‘low-balling’ can waste people's time.
  • Be clear and professional in all communications with the seller’s estate agent.

Understanding House Pricing

Understanding how property is priced can help you make a more informed offer. Here are some factors that can influence a property's price:

  • Location: Properties in desirable areas are likely to be priced higher.
  • Condition: Properties in good condition are likely to be priced higher than those in need of repairs.
  • Market conditions: In a seller's market, where there are more buyers than properties available, prices may be higher.
  • Seller's motivation: A seller who is motivated to sell quickly may be more willing to accept a lower offer for a speedy conclusion.

Buyers should also be aware of any additional costs associated with the purchase, such as stamp duty, legal fees, and survey costs. These should be factored into the overall budget when making an offer.

6. Legal Aspects

Buying a house involves various legal aspects. This section will cover two important sub-sections that one needs to consider when buying a house. These are Hiring a Solicitor and Understanding Contracts.

Hiring a Solicitor or Licenced Conveyancer

When buying a house, it is advisable to hire a solicitor or licenced conveyancer to help with the legal process. They will help to ensure that the legal process is followed correctly and that your interests are protected. They will also help with the following:

  • Explain how the home-buying process works
  • Handle the process on your behalf
  • Advise at every stage
  • Communicate with the seller's solicitor
  • Resolve any legal issues

It is essential to choose a solicitor who is experienced in conveyancing. This will ensure that the legal process is handled correctly and that your interests are protected. The cost of hiring a solicitor will vary, so it is advisable to check with a few solicitors to compare their costs.

Exchanging Contracts

When buying a house, you and the seller will be required to sign a contract. It is essential to understand the terms of the contract before signing it. Some of the key aspects of the contract that you should understand include:

  • The purchase price of the property
  • The completion date
  • Any conditions of the sale, such as any fixtures and fittings included in the sale price
  • The deposit required
  • Any other costs, such as stamp duty or legal fees

It is important to ensure that the contract is fair and that your interests are protected. You should read the contract carefully and ask your solicitor to explain any terms that you do not understand.

When both contracts are signed and the seller's solicitor has received your deposit (usually 10%), contracts will be exchanged, at this point you become legally bound to complete the transaction.

7. Completion

Once contracts have been exchanged, the seller and buyer will work towards the agreed completion date. The seller will remove all their furniture and personal items from the property, the buyer will arrange insurance and transfer the balance of payment to their solicitor. On the day of completion, once the money has been transferred to the seller's solicitor, the property becomes legally yours and will be recorded as such at HM Land Registry.

What are the costs of buying a house?

Buying a house is a significant investment that involves many costs beyond the purchase price. In this section, we will discuss the various costs of buying a house in the UK. You can read through our handy guide for a more detailed breakdown of the costs of buying a house .

Searches

When buying a house, your solicitor will conduct several Local Authority searches to ensure that the property is free from any negative legal or environmental issues. The cost of these searches can vary depending on the location and the type of search required. Read our guide on searches when buying a house to understand more about searches and why they are required.

Solicitor Fees

A solicitor or licenced conveyancer is essential when buying a house to handle the legal aspects of the purchase. Solicitor fees can vary depending on the complexity of the purchase, but they typically range from £500 to £5,000. It is important to obtain a detailed breakdown of the solicitor's fees before hiring them to ensure that there are no hidden costs.

Legal Fees

In addition to solicitor fees, there are other legal fees involved in buying a house. These include:

  • Land registry fees: to register the property in the buyer's name.
  • Stamp duty: a tax on the purchase price of the property.

Stamp Duty

Stamp duty is a tax that must be paid when buying a house in the UK. The amount of stamp duty payable depends on the purchase price of the property.

The current stamp duty rates (2023) for a main residence are:

  • Up to £250,000: 0%
  • £250,001 to £925,000: 5%
  • £925,001 to £1.5 million: 10%
  • Above £1.5 million: 12%

First-time buyers may be eligible for a reduced rate of stamp duty, and there are also exemptions for certain types of property purchases. There is also an additional rate when buying a second or additional property, see HMRC for more details. You can use our stamp duty calculator to measure how much stamp duty you will have to pay for your new home.

Buying a House Checklist

Having a checklist can make the process of buying a house easier and less stressful. Here are some things to consider when creating your own house-buying checklist:

Financial Preparation

Before starting the house-hunting process, it's important to get your finances in order. This includes:

  • Saving for a deposit: Most lenders require a deposit of 5% to 20% of the property's value. The more you can save, the better your chances of getting approved for a mortgage with a lower interest rate.
  • Checking your credit score: A good credit score can help you secure a better mortgage deal. Check your credit score and address any issues before applying for a mortgage.
  • Getting pre-approved for a mortgage: This can help you understand how much you can afford to borrow and give you an advantage over other buyers when making an offer.

House Hunting

Once you're financially prepared, it's time to start house hunting. Here are some things to consider:

  • Location: Consider factors such as proximity to work, schools, public transport, and amenities when choosing a location.
  • Property type: Decide on the type of property you want, such as a house, flat, or bungalow.
  • Property features: Make a list of must-have features, such as the number of bedrooms, garden, parking and outbuildings.
  • Property condition: Consider the condition of the property and whether any repairs or renovations will be needed.

If you’re unsure of what to look for when viewing a property, read through our handy house viewing checklist.

Legal and Administrative Tasks

Once you've found the perfect property, there are several legal and administrative tasks to complete before closing the deal. These include:

  • Appointing a solicitor or licenced conveyancer: They will handle the legal aspects of the purchase, such as checking the property's title and drawing up contracts.
  • Conducting a survey: This will identify any issues with the property's condition or structure.
  • Getting home insurance: This will protect your investment in case of damage or loss.
  • Completing the mortgage application: This includes submitting all necessary documents and information to the lender.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to buy a house?

The time it takes to buy a house can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of property, the location, and the complexity of the purchase. On average, it takes around 12 weeks to complete a property purchase in the UK. However, this can be longer or shorter depending on the circumstances.

What fees do I need to pay when purchasing a property?

When purchasing a property, there are several fees that you may need to pay, including:

  • Survey fees
  • Valuation fees
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax (if you're buying in England and Northern Ireland)
  • Land Transaction Tax (if you're buying in Wales)
  • Land registry fee
  • Local Authority
  • Solicitor's costs
  • VAT

It's important to budget for these fees when planning to buy a house.

Can I buy a house in the UK as a non-UK resident?

Yes, non-UK residents can buy property in the UK. However, the process can be more complicated, and there may be additional fees and taxes to pay. It's important to seek professional advice before making a purchase.

How much deposit do I need to buy a house?

The amount of deposit you need to buy a house can vary depending on the lender and the type of mortgage you choose. Generally, you will need to have a deposit of at least 5% of the property's value. However, having a larger deposit can help you secure a better mortgage deal with lower interest rates.

What are the benefits of owning a house?

Owning a house can have several benefits, including:

  • Stability and security
  • Freedom to decorate and make changes to the property
  • Potential for capital appreciation
  • No landlord or rental payments
  • Sense of pride and achievement

Buying Guides

Explore our collection of buying guides of buying guides crafted to provide you with information and assistance as you navigate through your journey of purchasing a home.

Latest buying news

Explore our most recent buying articles, featuring up-to-date data, news, and intriguing insights.

book-a-valuation

Thinking of selling?

If you are looking to sell/let your home, we can help. We realise that you're making a hugely important decision, you need people that you can trust. People do trust us, every year we sell or let over 15,000 properties.

Looking to Sell?

Book a valuation

Curious about how much your home is worth?

Get a free valuation and find out how much your property could sell or let for.

Book a valuation