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Key Steps of a House Buying Process

Published on April 2, 2015 by John Stringer in Buying, News

Whether you are buying a home for the first time or you are in the process of buying a house after selling your existing one, you need to ensure you follow the correct steps in order for everything to run smoothly. Home buying can be a lengthy and daunting experience, which is why both the novice and the seasoned house buyer needs to put plenty of thought into a house buying process.

Purchasing a new property can be an exciting experience too, which is why people often get carried away and forget important steps and details that are essential in order to aid the overall process. However, by failing to follow certain processes you could make buying a new home far more difficult, stressful and time consuming. In fact, you could even end up losing out on the property that you really want if as a result of this. It is therefore vital that you take some time to think about your purchase. Some of the things you need to consider when planning the whole process include:

  • Sorting out your finances and looking at income/outgoings
  • Approaching lenders or financial advisors to sort out details of how much you can borrow
  • Working out what type of property you want and in which area
  • Searching for a suitable new home
  • Viewing potentially suitable properties
  • Deciding on how much to offer
  • Enlisting the services of a solicitor and surveyor
  • Sorting out the contract

These are amongst the key steps that need to be followed as part of a house buying process. It is important to remember that buying a house is not an impulse decision – in fact, it is one of the most important and biggest investments that you are likely to make during your life so it is vital that you get it right. By following a house buying process you can help to minimise on problems and make the whole experience less stressful and more enjoyable.

The main steps you need to follow when buying a house

In order to make buying a new home easier there are certain vital steps that you need to take. This includes:

Work out how much you are able to afford for your new home

In order to determine what type of property you will be able to afford, you need to do some number crunching. It is important to look at your income and outgoings, speak to financial advisors or banks, and work out whether you have any savings or equity from your existing home that you can put towards buying a new one. You can work out exactly how much you need to borrow and how much you can afford to spend overall. If you are purchasing a property for the first time, you also need to bear in mind the other expenses that you will incur in order to work out affordability. This includes considering the amount that you will need to spend on things such as bills, insurance coverage, food and other essential costs in addition to your mortgage repayments. You therefore need to make sure you take your income and any existing outgoings or debts into account so you know exactly how much you have left each month to put towards your mortgage repayments and all of the other expenses as well as your day to day living expenses. Another thing to take into account is the money that you will need for the buying process, such as fees for solicitors and surveyor fees.

Get an offer in principle

There are many people who spend a lot of time hunting around for the right property to buy and then approach lenders to see if they can get the finance to make the purchase. However, if you are unable to borrow the amount you need for any reason you will have wasted a lot of time and perhaps even fallen in love with a dream home that is now out of your reach. If, on the other hand, you approach a lender and get an offer in principle first you will know exactly how much you will be able to borrow and you can then focus on houses that are going to be within your price range. This will save you time as well as making sure you don’t set your heart on a property you cannot afford. In addition to this, it will help to boost your chances of getting the property you want if there are other people interested. This is because a seller is more likely to want to accept an offer from someone that has already been approved for finance than from someone that still has to go through the whole process. Make sure you keep the letter from the lender that has made you the offer with you when you go to viewings, as you can show this to the sellers of properties you are interested in so that they know that you have been approved in principle for your mortgage loan. Bear in mind that the APR charged on mortgage loans can vary from one lender to another, as can deposit levels. You therefore need to do your research before approaching lenders in order to see which ones can offer you the best mortgage deals. If you do not feel confident about doing this yourself, you can always enlist the help of a professional independent financial advisor to look at the mortgage market on your behalf in order to find the best deal for you.

Decide what sort of property you want/need

If you are a single person or couple, you could choose between an apartment or a house whereas if you have a large family you will most likely be looking for a house but will need to determine how many bedrooms you need. You also need to consider factors such as where you want to purchase your new home and whether there are any special features that you are looking for. This could be anything from a big kitchen or large bathroom to a spacious garden, room for a study, loft, or any other special features you want to see in your new home.

Start your search

Buying houseThe next step is to start your search for a potential new home. You can look online and in newspapers for suitable properties and you can also register with estate agents in order to receive notifications whenever a potentially suitable house or apartment is put up for sale. There are various ways in which you can look for houses and properties for sale – you could even look out for ‘for sale’ boards as you are driving around, as these often go up before the properties get advertised so you may be able to beat other buyers to it by contact the relevant estate agent right away if you are interested in the property and area. Make sure you let estate agencies know exactly what you want from your new home so that they are able to match you up with the most suitable properties rather than wasting both their own time and yours contacting you about properties that are not going to be suitable for your needs or preferences.

Viewing and assessment

Once you’ve received notification of a suitable property, you should arrange a viewing. Before the viewing, make sure you write down a list of questions that you want to ask the seller, as it is all too easy to forget once you get there. Also, take the time to research the area online and look at everything from local amenities and facilities through to transport links, broadband connectivity and crime rate amongst other things. Also, make sure you ask about the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) as this will give you an idea of how energy efficient the property is, which can impact on the amount you have to pay in bills. Looking at factors such as the council tax band is also important, as this will also have an impact on your monthly or annual outgoings. When you go and view the property, make sure you view thoroughly rather than being too nervous to actually look around properly. Also, don’t be nervous about asking questions, as this is what the seller will be expecting. If you are interested in the property, don’t put in an offer right away – take some time to think about it and decide what sort of offer you are going to put in to start with.

Make your offer

Once you have decided that you definitely want the property, you can contact the estate agent and make the offer. Stick to your guns for as long as possible with a lower offer, as the seller will obviously be trying to get you to increase it. You may eventually have to increase the offer but do it gradually not just in one big leap. Once your offer has been accepted you can then start getting the other processes underway. When making an offer, make sure you bear in mind that many sellers may inflate the asking price slightly because they know that buyers will be trying to negotiate a reduction so don’t feel tempted to simply offer what is being asked without trying to haggle first.

Contact professionals to help with the purchase of your new home

You now need to look at contacting professionals to assist with the purchase of your new home. This includes a surveyor to go out and check that there are no problems with the property that you may not have noticed yourself when you viewed. Obviously, if anything serious does come to light, you can still pull out of the purchase because no contracts have been signed at this stage. However, if you get a good report back from the surveyor you can move full steam ahead. You will also need to consider hiring the services of a property lawyer in order to deal with the purchase for you. It is worth bearing in mind that the costs involved for both a surveyor and solicitor can vary so it is advisable to shop around to get the most cost effective deals and prices.

Deal with the legalities

Your solicitor will have a variety of legal red tape to deal with as part of the purchase process. Fortunately, you won’t have to be involved with most of it other than to receive updates from the solicitor. Once the contract is ready to sign your solicitor will let you know and you can then make arrangements to take the final steps towards getting your new home. You need to ensure that your solicitor does keep you informed every step of the way so you know what stage you are at over the course of the buying process.

Collect the keys to your new home

Once you have signed the contract and the clearance of your payment for the property has been confirmed you will be able get or pick up the keys to your new home. Your solicitor should be able to inform you of the key collection details based upon when your funds clear.

The importance of forward planning

As you can see, a whole house buying process can be a lengthy one, but by being organised and having the right professionals on board to help you it is possible to ensure that it runs smoothly from start to finish. This can also help to speed up the whole process, so you can find and purchase a new home with minimal hassle.

Forward planning is an essential part of the process, as buying a new home is a big step and one that cannot be taken lightly. Given that you will be paying tens of thousands of not hundreds of thousands of pounds for a new home, you need to put maximum effort into ensuring you make the right decisions and follow the right steps.

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About the author
John StringerJohn is professional property investor from Manchester. He is contributing on Genuine Property Buyers with tips for all types of house sellers.

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