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With so much focus on bad news we thought we'd try and cheer you up by focusing on the good stuff. See our articles below and we hope to cheer up your day.

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Buying your first home: A typical timeline

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

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Moving into your first house

Spring is a popular time for house hunters, with many people starting their search for a property as the warmer season begins. It is the season of new beginnings, but also offers drier days, which can make the process of moving a lot easier.

Before you start considering when you're going to move, you first need to find the right house and go through the buying process. For a first-time buyer this can be especially stressful as you may not have a clear idea of what purchasing a home can entail.

Our handy timeline can help make things a bit easier by giving you a better idea of what happens when.

Work out what you can afford

There is no point even starting your house hunt if you don't know what you can afford. It's all well and good seeing huge and stunning properties and getting excited, but you need to be entirely realistic in order to avoid disappointment.

You'll need to know what money you have outright to put towards the purchase, as well as how much you can borrow. It is worth talking to banks and other mortgage providers to find out what your options are based on your income and outgoings.

While it may turn out that you can get a large mortgage, you will also need to know exactly how much you can afford to borrow. Find out what other costs you should take into account and whether monthly mortgage payments are going to be achievable.

Choose the best mortgage for you

Once you have an idea of your finances, choose the best mortgage to suit your situation. You should then agree a mortgage in principle, which gives you more details on what the lender will probably offer as well as how much interest you will pay on what you borrow.

Now is also the time to check whether there are any costs associated with taking out a mortgage. Some lenders, for example, will require a booking fee to allow the mortgage you want to be reserved until you find a house.

Search for your home

Now you know roughly how much money you can borrow, it is time to start looking for your house. It is a good idea to look at properties that are within budget as well as those that are just over, as you'll be able to make an offer on a property and bring the price down further.

However, you should avoid looking at houses that are well out of your price range, as it is unlikely that you'll be able to drive the price down enough.

Make sure you have a list of things you want from a property - location, bedrooms, overall size, garden etc - as this will help you weed out those houses that aren't appropriate. However, you also need to be prepared to make compromises, as no house is going to have everything.

It is also a good idea to have all questions written down so you can find out as much about a property as possible.

Make an offer

Once you've found your ideal house, it is time to make an offer through the estate agent. They will often give you a good idea about what you can expect to get the house for, but it is worth remembering that you can put a second offer in if your first is not accepted.

It is always worth offering below the asking price, as most sellers don't expect to get the full amount they list their house for. It can take a few days for the seller to respond to your offer, so bear this in mind.

Get a solicitor and surveyor

After your offer has been accepted, you'll need to hire a solicitor to take care of all the legal aspects of buying a property. You'll also need a surveyor, who will check the property for any potential problems.

The results of the survey could impact the cost of the property, with any problems reducing the cost in line with what you will have to pay to fix them. You may also find that the results change your mind about whether you want to go through with the sale.

Your solicitor - who you will have to pay some money toward up front - will then search with the local council to see if there are any issues that could affect the value of the house. You will also have to pay for these.

Finalise your offer

Once all of this is done, it is time to confirm your offer. If you're happy with the results on all the searches and surveys, you may want to keep the offer the same. However, if any issues have been raised, you might want to adjust your offer accordingly.

The results of the surveys could also impact how your mortgage lender values the property, which can leave you with less money than you initially thought. This can cause a problem if you can't match your initial offer.

This is the time where things can go wrong, meaning it is the most stressful part of any house sale. You should ensure that all lines of communication are kept open so as to address any issues as they arise.

If you decide to pull out, you can still do this before contracts are exchanged, however, it will likely leave you out of pocket.

Exchanging contracts

The penultimate stage of buying your home is exchanging contracts. You will receive your contract to sign once everything is agreed and finalised.

You should go through the contract with your solicitor before signing to ensure you understand everything and that all details are right. The contract will contain information such as what the sellers are leaving in the house and any work that they will be completing prior to completion.

When you've signed the contracts, you are committed to the sale and may have to pay a holding deposit to show that you are serious about buying the property. Once contracts are exchanged, it is a good idea to look into buildings insurance to ensure the structure of the house is protected.


The last stage of the buying process can take some time. Usually you have a four-week deadline between contract exchange and sale completion; however, you can also agree to a different time frame with the seller.

Once the sale is completed, the remaining funds will be transferred by your solicitor to the seller. You will also have to pay any other fees and your solicitor's bill.

Your solicitor will then register your purchase with the Land Registry for properties in England and Wales. If you are paying more than £125,000 for the house, you will have 30 days from the date of completion to pay Stamp Duty, which will be arranged by your solicitor.

The final stage will be getting the keys to your new home, at which point you can start the process of moving in.

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