1. Check your budget

An effective search starts with knowing your budget. Online calculators are great, but an agreement in principle will carry more weight, and offer more assurance to the seller, when making an offer. The agreement in principle will also take into account other transaction costs like stamp duty, legal fees, and mortgage arrangement fees.

If you need any help with this, we work closely with an independent mortgage advisor who can help you with free advice.

2. What type of property / area is right for me?

Now you have your budget, research which areas offer the features that are important to you and where you can picture yourself living. We recommend a walk or drive around the area to get a sense of the neighbourhood.

Consider property types too. Do you want a leasehold apartment or a freehold house? Garden, no garden? Semi-detached or detached? There are many different types of home, and an experienced local agent can help you decide which is most suitable for you.

3. Go out viewing

Once you finally decide which area and type of home you would like to see, it is now time for the fun part, viewing homes! Our advice is to keep an open mind: part of the viewing process is refining your understanding of what you want. Register with estate agents who cover your preferred areas and they will then be able to contact you when new properties come to the market.

Many estate agents offer preview videos or an online viewing which can help you to decide what properties you want to view in person. Viewing more homes will help you to narrow down what’s most important to you, and it will offer useful price comparisons when it comes to placing an offer.

4. Make an offer

Consult with your mortgage advisor before making an offer, to check if the property meets your preferred lender’s requirements. We always recommend that you make an offer in person or on the phone, and we can help with this process if you wish.

You’ll be asked for information about your position: preferred timescales, mortgage situation and if you have appointed a conveyancer. We are happy to recommend a family-run independent conveyancing company who can provide you with a quote.

Once your offer is accepted, you can submit the mortgage application, commission valuation and structural surveys, and instruct a conveyancer. You should also arrange for insurance – house, contents, and mortgage insurance if you need it.

5. Good communication

Ensure clear and timely communication with your conveyancer and the estate agent. The better the contact and more responsive you are, the quicker and smoother the sale can move.

The agent may recommend a conveyancer, who they often work with and have had good experiences with who will help with streamlining the process. If you choose to find your own then a great question to ask a conveyancer before you instruct is what their current caseload is and their current average completion time. We’ve found some conveyancers cap the number they work with to ensure a higher level of customer service, but some larger volume companies can be trying to deal with 2-3 times this amount, which often leads to delays.

Price can be a big factor when appointing a conveyancer, but choosing the cheapest conveyancer might end up costing money in other ways if the process is delayed.

Once you have appointed the conveyancer and completed their paperwork, they will apply for local searches and raise a set of enquiries with the vendor’s solicitor.

On average, the legal part of the process usually takes approximately 12 weeks.

Alongside this process you and your mortgage advisor will appoint a surveyor to carry out a valuation survey. This is not a structural survey, but may highlight issues that you want a structural surveyor to look into more closely, and possibly renegotiate the price of the property if issues that will be costly to remediate are identified.

Once the surveys and underwriting have been completed you will receive your mortgage offer.

If you are considering using a removal company, we know just the firm to recommend. They offer a removal service, as well as packing and storage services. We are happy to introduce you to them so that you can arrange a convenient time for them to visit your home and provide a quote.

6. Exchange and then completion day

Exchange of contracts happens once the sale contract is exchanged between the buyers’ and sellers’ conveyancers. Before exchange of contracts you will have to transfer deposit monies and agree a completion date (move date) to conclude the exchange.

Once the sale is exchanged, the sale is legally binding.

On the morning of the agreed date and when completion monies have been received by the seller’s conveyancer, they will instruct the estate agent to release the house keys to the buyer. The estate agent will agree a time with the buyers for collection/delivery.

Now you can sit back and enjoy your new home!