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Step by Step Guide to Buying A House

Moving isn’t something we do all too often and when we do we tend to find that no two purchases are quite the same. Even if you’re an experienced home owner moving to your next home, this helpful guide walks you through the home buying process to give you a good idea or remind you of what to expect. We’re going to break down this guide into several sections so if there’s something that you want to jump to check out the main topics we’re going to be covering below.

  • Preparation

  • Finding a property

  • Getting a Decision in Principal

  • Making an application

  • Appointing solicitors

  • Working towards exchange of contracts

  • Completion

  • Post completion


The first thing you need to do may be an obvious one but also an important one which is save up a deposit. The larger the deposit the move favourable things can be later on down the line when looking to mortgage lenders. Once you’ve got a deposit saved it’s probably now a good time to speak to a mortgage adviser who can give you an idea of how much a mortgage provider will be able to lend you which should allow you to start viewing properties in your price range.

Also check out our top 5 reasons to use a mortgage adviser.

Finding a Property

Labelled by some as the fun part of the process it’s time to find that dream property. Bear in mind this can also be the most time-consuming part of the process as it’s commonly advised to view as many as you can. Some you will hate, some you will love, some you will lose out on to someone else until one day you find the one and get an offer accepted. Don’t get disheartened if this takes time as the last thing you want is to jump at the wrong property through fear of missing out.

For help while looking for the right house also check out our finding the right property guide.

Getting a Decision in Principal

Once you have an offer accepted or in rare cases just before if the estate agent insists you need to obtain a Decision in Principal. Go back to your mortgage adviser at this point and update them on where you’re up to. Your mortgage adviser can then look to obtain a Decision in Principal for you following on from a bit of market research to ensure they are applying to the most suitable lender that fits your needs. The Decision in Principal is seen as a more accurate estimate of your borrowing capacity and involves a credit check along with letting the lender know income and outgoings to give them an idea if you fit their criteria when it comes to issuing mortgages. While a Decision in Principal isn’t binding it is taken more seriously by estate agents and they will want to see sight of it shortly after the offer is accepted.

Making an Application

While you can go direct to a lender, it is likely far more beneficial to go back to your mortgage adviser as they will have access to a vast number of lenders on the market which will allow them to find the product that suits your needs whether that be the cheapest rate and amount to pay, one that covers a personal circumstance or maybe one that with no fees involved. Your mortgage adviser will ask you for all the required documentation they will need to submit the application which normally includes but may not be limited to:

  • Payslips

  • Bank statements

  • 2 forms of ID

They can then submit the full application to the mortgage provider you have agreed on where they will review the application and make a decision on if they can lend. During this time the lender will appoint a valuer to conduct a mortgage-based valuation on the property, it is your decision whether at this point you wish to purchase a further report on the house. You can have a homebuyers report or a full structural survey carried out on the property.

For more information on the types of valuations carried out check our guide on home surveys.

Appointing Solicitors

Once the application has been sent to the mortgage lender it is usually time to appoint a solicitor to carry out the legal work involved with purchasing a property which is called conveyancing. You can either find a solicitor yourself or your mortgage adviser can help here as they will usually have access to a trusted panel of solicitors they can recommend. When it comes to solicitors there can be large differences in quotes and it is important to understand that the cheapest may not always be the best option for you. Usually the cheaper the quote the more cases that solicitor could be dealing with at any one time which might make getting hold of them a little more difficult compared to a more expensive quote which might be because the solicitor takes on fewer cases allowing them to give a more personal service. Choosing the right solicitor ultimately comes down to personal preference in what you want from the service

Contact us if you need help or would like advice on finding the right Solicitor.

Working Towards Exchange of Contracts

Once the application is in and the solicitors are hard at work dealing with the legal aspects of the purchase it can seem like there’s not a lot to do, however, this is the perfect time to talk through any relevant insurances you may need. This remains relevant whether you're buying your first house or moving to a new house and life cover needs altering. The main types of insurance you need to be looking at and how they fit with your budget are:

  • Home insurance (buildings and content)

  • Life insurance

  • Critical illness insurance

  • Family Income Benefit

  • Income protection insurance

The last thing you want after purchasing your new home is for anything to happen to it or you which could impact your ability to live in it or be able to afford to make the payments for it. At this time, it is well worth while sitting down with your mortgage adviser to discuss all the options, what you feel needs to be covered and how these fit in with your budget.

For more information on insurances check out our guides on why you need good quality home insurance and 5 things to consider when looking for life insurance. For personal advice on insurance please feel free to contact us on 01244 539308 or at


Once ready your solicitor will contact you to set a date for exchange of contracts and a date to complete. The completion date is usually the date you will be moving in, the best part of the whole process! If there is a chain everyone will need to agree on the same date so you are all moving at the same time. If there is no chain then things should be fairly easy to arrange and the estate agent will be able to provide you the keys as soon as the solicitors complete. If you haven’t already the Solicitor will ask you for your deposit money just before this takes place so they have it ready to pay the money to the lender. If stamp duty is applicable you will also need to pay the solicitor this money at the same time. The last big thing to think about here is the moving process. Some people prefer to do this themselves by hiring a van but others prefer hiring a company that can come and complete the moving process for you. If you prefer the latter some mortgage advisers can recommend companies to you that can do this so it’s worth asking them if they know anyone.

If there is anything you feel isn’t covered here and you need more information on the process please feel free to contact us and we would be more than happy to help answer any other questions may have.

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