How to buy a house

First-time buyers

How to buy a house

By Joe Elvin

Article 1 of 13

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

How to buy a house

Found your dream home and keen to buy it as soon as possible? Our inside tips on how to buy a house will help you seal the deal.

In this short video, property TV presenter Jonnie Irwin explains the process of buying a home, from saving for a deposit to moving in.

For a more detailed overview of what will happen, what order it'll happen in and how long it's likely to take, see our step-by-step guide to moving house.

The house-buying process

Hold-ups in the property chain when buying or selling a home are common. It can also be tough to buy a house or flat in a competitive market, even if you've offered more money than another buyer.

However, there are things you can do to help the process go smoothly and secure your property sooner rather than later...

1. First-time buyer? Make sure the vendor knows this

First-time buyers hold a strong position when it comes to buying a house. Estate agents and vendors alike will regard you as a good bet since you have none of the complications associated with being part of a chain. 

If you can't afford to buy a home outright, shared ownership and shared equity schemes might be able to help you. 

Go further: Buying my first home: what do I need to know? - a comprehensive guide

2. Moving from a home you already own? Sell it first

If you own the property you're currently living in, find a buyer for it before you begin to look for your new home. You’ll avoid the disappointment of missing out because someone else has the funds immediately available, and will be a more appealing prospect to agents and sellers.

Go further: How to sell your house - tips and a video to help you sell your home quickly and for the best price 

3. Arrange your mortgage

Make sure you have your financial arrangements sorted out before you start to look at properties. Estate agents will take you more seriously if they know you have a ‘mortgage in principle’ from your lender. It might also give you the edge over other potential buyers.

Go further: Which? Mortgage Advisers - call 0808 252 7987 for impartial advice on the best mortgage deal for your personal circumstances

4. Be smart with your conveyancing

It's often best to find a solicitor or licensed conveyancer through recommendation. If you choose a solicitor, make sure they specialise in property and have a good reputation for moving quickly. Conveyancers have a bit of a reputation for slowing down the home-moving process but if you choose a good one this is less likely to be the case.

We've researched the market to find a conveyancing firm that we believe offers a reliable, trustworthy and efficient service, and have formed a partnership with them to help make conveyancing simpler. Click to find out more about Which? Conveyancing.

In this video, experienced conveyancer Gillian White explains how she used her expertise to buy her own home.

 

Please enable JavaScript to access this content.

5. Don’t bid too low for a property

Be careful how aggressively you try to lower a price. It might increase the chances of being gazumped and may also lead to resentment on the part of the seller.

Go further: Making an offer on a property - tips for placing a fair bid on a home

6. Consider the property seller

Establish how quickly the seller wants to move at the outset. If the answer is as quickly as possible, does that fit with your circumstances? If they're moving to a new job that doesn't start for months, will you be able to find a temporary home in the meantime?

If you're keen to score a bargain, you may have a better chance if your seller has an incentive for getting things done quickly, perhaps because they've already had an offer accepted on the home they want to buy or have had their property on the market for several months.

7. Communicate during the property buying process 

Don’t disappear on holiday for two weeks without informing all necessary parties. Don’t ignore any aspects of letters about the purchase that you don’t understand. Raise any queries you have about the purchase immediately.

  • Last updated: August 2016
  • Updated by: Stephen Maunder