1. Save for a deposit: There are various on-line mortgage/deposit calculators to work out how much you’ll need to save and how long it’ll take. 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. How much can I borrow: Find out how much mortgage you can borrow by speaking to a mortgage advisor for an exact figure.
  3. Research your chosen area: Look at local services, public transport, Council Tax rates, schooling and Ofsted ratings, crime rates and happiness.
  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. Make sure you check all your essential requirements, before making an offer.
  7. Make an offer: Work out how much you want to offer. 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.
  8. 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 someone 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.
  11. Hire a removals company: Get at least three quotes.
  12. Arrange home insurance: You’ll need buildings insurance in place from the day you exchange. Check online to find out the best and worst home insurance companies. Your mortgage advisor would normally be able to provide a quotation.
  13. Exchange contracts: Your solicitor and the seller’s solicitors will swap signed contracts and you’ll pay the deposit.
  14. Complete: your mortgage and deposit will be transferred to the seller and then you can collect your new house keys from your estate agent and celebrate!

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