1 Save for a deposit: If you’re a first-time buyer, a Help to Buy or Lifetime Isa could enable you to claim a 25% top-up from the government.
2 Find out how much mortgage you can borrow, speak to a mortgage adviser for an exact figure.
3 Research your chosen area, you can do this on Rightmove, or Zoopla or any of the other property portals.
4 Apply for a mortgage agreement in principle (AIP): this is a confirmation from a lender that they would, in principle, be willing to lend you a certain amount. It can make you a more attractive buyer, as it shows the seller you can afford the property. The AIP doesn’t have to come from your bank or building society. An independent mortgage broker can help you apply.
5 Start house-hunting: register with several estate agents in your chosen area(s) and set up email alerts on online portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla.
6 View properties in person: it’s vital that you don’t purely judge properties on their online listings. Get out and about to get a true sense of what you want. The more properties you see, the more refined your search will become.
7 Once you have found your dream property, make an offer: work out how much to offer based on recent selling prices for similar homes in the same neighbourhood and what you think the home you want is actually worth to you. Also think about whether you’ll need to carry out repairs to the property. Make your offer to the estate agent, who will pass it on to the seller. If your first offer is rejected, you may have to negotiate. If there is more than one offer on that property, you may have to go to ‘sealed bids’. This means everyone will have to put their highest offers into the estate agent by a certain date and time.
8 Once your offer is accepted, apply for a mortgage: a whole of-market mortgage broker can recommend the best lenders and deal for you and help you apply.
9 Find a good solicitor to do the legal work: you’ll need to appoint a conveyancer or property solicitor - ask friends or look online for recommendations, and don’t make your choice based on price alone.
10 Get a property survey: hire a RICS-accredited or RPSA surveyor to check for serious structural problems before you buy the property. If it unearths problems, you might want to ask the seller to fix them or reduce your offer. You can either do this independently or use your lenders surveyor to do this.
11 Hire a removals company: get at least three quotes, your Agent can usually recommend a reliable firm near you.
12 Arrange home insurance: you’ll need buildings insurance in place from the day you exchange.
13 Exchange contracts: Yours and the seller’s solicitors will swap signed contracts and you’ll pay the deposit which your solicitor will already hold together with your signed contract.
14 Complete: your mortgage and deposit will be transferred to the seller’s solicitor and then you can collect your new home keys from your estate agent! Congratulations!