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Buying a home

How to buy a house

By Joe Elvin

Article 1 of 13

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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 property 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 guide to 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.
  • If you'd prefer to have the information at a glance, you can download our one-page step-by-step guide for home movers.

Buying a house: 7 expert tips

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 made a higher offer 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. Arrange your mortgage in advance

Make sure you have your financial arrangements sorted 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.

Call Which? Mortgage Advisers on 0808 252 7987 for impartial advice on the best mortgage deal for your personal circumstances.

2. 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 in with your circumstances? 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 need to relocate for a job or have had their property on the market for several months.

3. First-time buyer? Make sure the seller knows this

First-time buyers are in a strong position when it comes to buying a property. Estate agents and sellers 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 property outright, the shared ownership or shared equity schemes might be an option. 

Find out more: Buying my first home: what do I need to know? A comprehensive guide.

4. Moving from a property you already own? Find a buyer 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.

Find out more: How to sell your house – tips and a video to help you sell your home quickly and for the best price.

5. Be tactical about how much you offer

No one wants to pay over the odds, but you need to be careful how aggressively you try to lower a price. If the seller accepts your cheeky offer but doesn't feel they're getting a fair price, it might increase your chances of being gazumped.

Find out more: Making an offer on a property – tips for getting a good but fair deal on a home.

6. Be smart with your conveyancing

It's often best to find a solicitor or licensed conveyancer through a recommendation. If you choose a solicitor, make sure they specialise in property. Conveyancing has a bit of a reputation for slowing down the home-moving process, but if you choose a good firm 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 the process simpler. Find out more about Which? Conveyancing.

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

 

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7. Communicate during the buying process 

If you're going on holiday for two weeks, for example, make sure you tell your estate agent and solicitor so people don't think your silence is due to cold feet. Equally, don't ignore any aspects of letters or contracts about the purchase that you don’t understand – raise any queries immediately.

  • For information on what will happen between the offer being accepted and contracts being exchanged, check out our guide on preparing to exchange.
  • Last updated: December 2016
  • Updated by: Joe Elvin

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.