Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy

Buying a house: buying and selling


Moving house can be a bit of a juggling act, particularly if you're buying and selling at the same time. Our expert advice will help you achieve a hassle-free home move.

Buying a house: first-time buyers


Buying your first property can be exciting, but also confusing. From mortgages and viewings to making an offer and moving in, we'll help you get it right.

Buying a house: step-by-step guide


Buying and selling property is complicated. Make life easier - simply follow our step-by-step guide to what you need to do and when.

Sell your house quickly

1

Get all your paperwork in order before putting the house on the market

2

Have your money for the solicitor, mortgage broker and lender ready

3

When you're sent contracts and paperwork, read, sign and return them immediately

4

Check the purchase price and fixtures and fittings on the contract to avoid misunderstandings...

5

...But the odd disagreement is inevitable. If you're not willing to lose the sale over it, compromise

Are you looking for a mortgage?

Which? can help. Call

0808 115 4132

for a free consultation with one of our independent, expert mortgage advisers.

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

Video: how to sell your house

An experienced property expert explains how to secure a fast, stress-free sale and get the best price for your home.

How to get the best mortgage deal


Shop around

Secure a mortgage in principle early - Which? Mortgage Advisers (0808 115 4132) can help you with this.

Focus on the total cost

Look at the mortgage's fees as well as the headline interest rate.

Avoid early repayment charges

Then you can switch to a better deal when the mortgage's introductory rate ends.

Try to pay fees upfront

If you add them to the mortgage you'll end up paying interest on them.

Sign up for free home-moving advice

Sign up

Buy your next home


1

Research locations

Relocating, or trying to find the next up-and-coming area? We've got advice on how to find the best place to live.

2

Get a conveyancer

Once you've chosen your area, instruct a conveyancer so you can act quickly when you find a place you like.

3

Nail the viewing

Get friendly with the estate agents and take our property-viewing checklist on house viewings.

4

Make a serious offer

Found the dream property? Read up on how much to offer and, if you're successful, always have a survey.

5

Find the best mortgage deal

A whole-of-market comparison service such as Which? Mortgage Advisers (0808 115 4132) will help you find the best mortgage deal.

6

Exchange, complete, move in

Congratulations, you've bought a house! Be sure to follow our moving house tips for a smooth move-in day.

Stamp duty rates for home buyers


The amount of stamp duty you'll pay varies depending on the value of the home you're buying. The rate is tiered, like income tax, so you'll pay different amounts on different portions of the property price. To find out how much you'll pay, use our stamp duty calculator.

If you're buying a buy-to-let property or second home, you'll pay 3% extra on each tier - see our buy-to-let stamp duty guide for more info.

0% 2% 5% 10% 12%
£0 - £125,000 £125,001 - £250,000 £250,001 - £925,000 £925,001 - £1,500,000 £1,500,001+

Mortgage types explained

Sick of all the mortgage jargon? Our guides cut to the chase, explaining what each type of mortgage is and who it's right for.

Mortgage types explained

Do I need a new mortgage for moving house?

Buy-to-let mortgages

Video: things I wish I'd known before I moved house

Are you looking for a mortgage?

Which? can help. Call

0808 115 4132

for a free consultation with one of our independent, expert mortgage advisers.

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

First-time buyer advice: things I wish I'd known

Finding it all a bit overwhelming? Don't panic! You are not alone. Find out what other first-time buyers have been through and learn from their experiences in our videos.

How to get the best mortgage deal


Shop around

Use Which? Mortgage Advisers (0808 115 4132) to secure a mortgage agreement in principle before you start searching - agents will take you more seriously.

Look at the total cost

The headline interest rate might not include fees, which will add to your costs.

Avoid mortgages with early repayment charges

That way, you can switch to a better deal when the introductory rate ends.

Pay fees upfront

Adding fees to the mortgage rather than paying upfront will mean you pay interest on them.

Sign up for free home-moving advice

Sign up

Buy your first home


1

Get a solicitor

Getting a property solicitor, or conveyancer, in place so you're ready to proceed as soon as you make an offer shows estate agents you're serious.

2

Make friends with the agents

Calling and visiting the local estate agents regularly will help ensure you're the first to know when a hot new property hits the market.

3

View properties

Our property-viewing checklist tells you what to ask when viewing a place. Also check out our guides to new-build homes and freehold vs leasehold.

4

Make an offer

Found your dream pad? Think carefully about how much to offer and, if it's a competitive area, get wise to gazumping and sealed bids.

5

Find the best mortgage deal

Use an impartial, whole-of-market mortgage broker such as Which? Mortgage Advisers to get the best deal for you - 0808 115 4132.

6

Have a survey done

The results of a property survey might mean you can negotiate on the selling price. Once that's sorted you can exchange, complete and move in!

Stamp duty rates for first-time buyers


Stamp duty for first-time buyers is the same as for everyone else. The rate's tiered, like income tax, so you'll pay different amounts on different portions of the property price. To find out how much you'll pay, use our stamp duty calculator.

0% 2% 5% 10% 12%
£0 - £125,000 £125,001 - £250,000 £250,001 - £925,000 £925,001 - £1,500,000 £1,500,001+

First-time buyer mortgage deals and schemes

There are all sorts of mortgages, schemes and forms of ownership that can help you get on the property ladder. Our
guides cut through the jargon, explaining what each one is and who it's right for.

Video: understand mortgages in under two minutes

Find out about repayment vs interest-only mortgages and whether to choose a fixed or variable rate in our video.

Selling, buying and what order to do it all in

There are so many things to think about when moving house that it can be hard to know what to do first. But follow these steps, in this order, and the property-buying and selling process will be a far less stressful experience. Click on each step to find out more or download our printable step-by-step guide to buying a house.

For impartial expert advice on getting a mortgage for your new home, call Which? Mortgage Advisers on 0808 115 4132 for a free initial consultation.

1.

Save for a deposit

2.

Work out your budget

3.

Research mortgages

4.

Market your property

5.

Start house hunting

6.

Find a solicitor

7.

Make an offer

8.

Apply for a mortgage

9.

Get a survey

10.

Get repair quotes

11.

Find a removal firm

12.

Exchange and complete

 13.

Move in

1: Save for a deposit if you're buying for the first time

Timeframe: One to five years

You can get a mortgage with a deposit of as little as 5% of the value of the property but the more you can save the better the deal you'll get. Read our tips on saving for a mortgage deposit and then use our mortgage calculator to find out how much you could borrow.

Who is involved: You, bank/building society

2: Work out your budget

Timeframe: One to two weeks

Buying
Make sure you take a close look at your budget to find out how much you can afford to spend on mortgage repayments each month and that you have enough cash for all the costs of buying a house, including mortgage arrangement fees, survey costs, stamp duty and legal fees.

Selling
Get your house valued by three estate agents and find out how much is outstanding on your existing mortgage to see how much equity you have.

Who is involved: You, estate agents, mortgage lender

3: Research mortgages and get a mortgage in principle

Timeframe: One to two weeks

Find out which are the best and worst mortgage lenders according to customers, and read our guide to understand the different types of mortgages.

Use the Which? Mortgage Advisers borrowing calculator to get an idea of how much a lender might lend you, then speak to a lender or mortgage adviser to get a mortgage agreement in principle. This will make you a more attractive buyer when the time comes to make an offer on a property.

For impartial mortgage advice contact Which? Mortgage Advisers by calling 0808 115 4132.

Who is involved: You, mortgage adviser, mortgage lender

4: Put your house on the market if you're selling

Timeframe: One to two weeks

You'll be in a better position if you have already found a buyer for your home when you want to make an offer on another property, so choose an estate agent to put your house on the market (you might also want to look into online estate agents) and get an energy performance certificate.

To find out more, read our top tips for selling a house.

Who is involved: You, estate agent or alternative, energy assessor

5: Start house-hunting

Timeframe: One to six months

Now you know your budget you can start looking into areas you would like to move to in more detail and arrange viewings. If you're considering buying a brand-new pad, check out our guide to new-build homes.

Also read our guide on how to find the right property and use our viewing checklist to make sure you don't miss anything when you're looking round.

Who is involved: You, estate agents

6: Find a solicitor

Timeframe: One to two weeks

You will need a property solicitor or licensed conveyancer to carry out the legal aspects of buying and selling your home and getting a mortgage. It's worth having someone in place before you make an offer so you're ready to go.

If you're on the search for a reliable firm, we've teamed up with a conveyancing partner to offer a no-move, no-fee service with fixed upfront costs. Find out more and get a no-obligation quote from Which? Conveyancing.

Who is involved: You, solicitors

7: Make an offer on a property

Timeframe: One day to one week

Take a look at our tips for dealing with estate agents as a buyer and, when you've found a property you like, check out our guide to making an offer to increase your chances of securing it.

If you're buying in an area where demand outstrips supply, or you think there's likely to be a lot of competition for the property you're buying, arm yourself with insider knowledge by reading our guide on gazumping and sealed bids.

Who is involved: You, estate agent, vendor

8: Apply for your mortgage

Timeframe: Two to six weeks

Once you've had an offer accepted you need to apply for your mortgage.

Which? Mortgage Advisers (0808 115 4132) can help you do this for certain deals or you can apply directly to a lender.

Read our advice on making a successful mortgage application.

Who is involved: You, mortgage adviser, mortgage lender

9: Get a survey

Timeframe: One to two weeks

You will need to get a valuation of the property done as part of your mortgage application but you should also get a more detailed survey to find out about the condition of the property. Our guide to house surveys explains the different types to help you decide which one to go for.

Who is involved: You, surveyor

10: Get quotes for any repairs needed

Timeframe: Two to four weeks

If your survey reveals problems that will need fixing, get quotes for the work. You can then use these quotes if you want to renegotiate the price you pay for the property. Check out Which? Trusted Traders to find local tradespeople who've been vetted and approved by Which?.

You could also consider getting quotes for any non-essential renovations you'll want to carry out so you know how much to budget.

Who is involved: You, tradespeople, estate agent, seller

11: Find a removal firm

Timeframe: One to two weeks

If you don't plan to move your belongings yourself, contact two or three removal firms to get quotes and choose one you trust. Use Which? Trusted Traders to find local removalists recommended by Which?.

Our guide on moving house has tips on packing, removals costs, who you need to inform about your new address and more.

Who is involved: You, removal firms

12: Exchange and complete

Timeframe: Six to eight weeks (legal process from buyer's solicitor
receiving draft paperwork from seller's solicitor to completion)

Buying
As soon as your offer is accepted your solicitor will be working towards getting all the legal documentation in place, including carrying out searches on the property, to exchange contracts. Read more about preparing to exchange

Your solicitor will send you documents to read and sign so make sure you do this as soon as possible to keep the process moving. You will need to send them a deposit to exchange. 

At this point you are legally bound to buy the property.

Completion - when the property becomes legally yours and you can get the keys and move in - usually happens one or two weeks later. Let your removal firm know as soon as you know when this will be.

Selling
If you are also selling a property you will need to exchange contracts and complete on the same days as for your purchase so you can move straight to your new home.

Read our guides to find out more about exchange and completion.

Who is involved: You, buyer, seller, solicitor, estate agents