Buying a house Buying a house: stress-busters

Angry shadow of a man shouting down the telephone

Follow our expert tips to reduce the stress of buying a house

Buying a house can be one of the most stressful and frustrating processes you'll ever go through. 

In many situations, you'll have no choice but to rely on other people involved with the purchase, be it the seller, your estate agent or your solicitor.

As part of the 2015 Which? national property survey, we asked 1,990 home movers to rate how stressful they found a number of life events. Unsurprisingly, buying a house featured high in the list, with 69% describing the process as stressful. 

There are number of things you can do to help reduce the strain, however. We've spoken to experienced estate agents, conveyancers, mortgage advisers and property experts to bring you top stress-busting tips. 

Invest in mortgage advice for peace of mind

Getting assistance from a mortgage adviser might initially cost you more, but it should save you time and maybe even money in the long run. Choosing a mortgage isn't just about searching for the best rate - a good mortgage adviser can quickly trawl through hundreds of deals to help you decide what type of mortgage is best for you. 

Speaking to an adviser as soon as possible will help you build a clear picture of what's right for your circumstances. They'll look at all the important elements, from the overall costs of moving to how the type of property you get could affect your mortgage application. 

A great adviser should help you confront any potential issues with your mortgage application before you make it, helping you avoid the worry of being turned down for a mortgage after you've finally found your dream home. 

  • Which? offers an independent mortgage advice service, Which? Mortgage Advisers, that looks at thousands of mortgages and gives you impartial jargon-free advice. Our experts can help manage the process of buying a house for you, saving you the hassle of chasing documents. You can call the service on 0808 252 7987 for a free consultation. 

Make life easier with a reliable mortgage lender

When choosing a mortgage lender, consider its reliability, range of products and overall costs, rather than just the initial cost alone. This is a company you could potentially be dealing with for 25 years or more, so customer service is a key consideration. 

Look at how quickly they can process your application and what incentives you'll be given to stay as a long-term customer. Think about the future and the possibility of remortgaging - you might not be able to do so with them. 

It's a good idea to obtain a 'mortgage decision in principle' to make you a more attractive buyer and to avoid the possibility of being turned down for a loan on your dream property. 

Which? has reviewed a wide range of mortgage lenders taking a number of factors into account including the application process, customer service, value for money, transparency of charges and more.

Find out more: Mortgage lenders reviewed - see which lenders rate best for customer satisfaction

Put service before money to save overall  

Think carefully before choosing professionals who are inundated with customers. It's common that they take longer to follow up on any communications

Invest in a quality conveyancer or property solicitor. Using cheap online companies that don't offer a full service will cause more work for you. Our conveyancing guide explains how to find a professional with good credentials that will be able to help you through the process.

It's also wise to pay extra for a house survey, which identifies problems with the property, and not to just rely on findings from a lender's home valuation as this only looks at whether the house price is right. 

Although house surveys can cost between £300 and more than £1,000, in the long run you’ll save money and relieve stress by unveiling potential problems that would become yours once you buy it. Knowing the costs of any repairs should help you to budget and will support any negotiations to reduce the price, too. 

Our guide to the different types of house survey and the costs will help you decide which one would be best for your circumstances. 

Using a reliable, trustworthy estate agent will also go a long way to reducing anxiety. You can check their credentials by asking about their accreditations, their sales record and the amount of sellers on their books. 

  • We know that it can be difficult to know where to start when looking for a conveyancer. That's why we've teamed up with a national law firm that we believe offers a conveyancing service you can trust. Find out more about our conveyancing partner.

Ease your worries by staying informed

It might be tempting to leave certain parts of the home-buying process to the professionals, but you'll be less worried if you know what's going on and can build good relationships with them. 

Be proactive throughout the process and try to treat it as you might do a business deal.

Don’t just browse property portals online as some properties for sale never make it online. Get out and develop relationships with estate agents in your desired area. That way they'll make an effort for you and you'll get the best deals first. 

If you're unsure or worried about something, ask questions, whether it be to any of the professionals you deal with or the seller. Put any questions you need answered in writing to avoid confusion later down the line. Ensure your legal representative then deals with them well in advance of an exchange.

Help the process run smoothly by completing all documents requested and returning them swiftly. Read every document sent to you in full and make sure you understand it all before signing. 

A day or so before completion, check the condition your seller has left the property in, so that you can address any issues. 

Find out more: stress-busting tips for sellers - more useful advice for those selling a property 

Know your limits to avoid future issues

Even if you're accepted for a mortgage in principle, it's wise to think very hard before you stretch yourself for that 'dream property'. If you end up in arrears, you may have financial trouble for many years.

Once you finalise a deal, be realistic on timescales. Don’t over-commit or give notice on your rental property too early, particularly when there are chain dependencies.

Although legal companies suggest two weeks from exchange to completion, you can request, for example, four weeks or more. This gives you time to organise your move properly, to work out what to get rid of and what to take with you. 

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Last updated:

February 2016

Updated by:

Stephen Maunder

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Which? Limited (registered in England and Wales number 00677665) is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited (registered in England and Wales number 07239342). Which? Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited. Registered office: 2 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF.