Buying a home: your complete guide

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Buying a house is a big step in anyone’s books, whether it’s your first step onto the property ladder or you’re a second-time buyer upgrading to a bigger house.

But no matter which number house you’re on, buying a home can be a complicated process and the costs can quickly spiral even if you have budgeted.

Budgeting to buy a house

When it comes to budgeting for a house move there are loads of expenses to keep in mind – we’ve put together a guide on the true costs of buying a property which lists all the costs you need to keep in mind from solicitor’s fees to searches and stamp duty.

When it comes to finding the right solicitor at the right price, it’s all about doing your research. In our guide to how to find a solicitor, we look at the pros and cons of a local solicitor vs online firms and whether it’s better to have a conveyancer or a property lawyer. We also list some handy websites you can use to make sure you’re hiring an accredited legal rep.

Once you’ve got an idea of how much you’ll need saved up, you need to think about funding a house deposit if you’re a first-time buyer with no equity. With most mortgage lenders looking for at least a 5% or 10% deposit, it can take people years to save up.

We’ve also explored a number of ways you can get help with the deposit such as savings, gifted deposits and government Help to Buy schemes in our what help is available when buying a house guide.

What type of mortgage do I need?

With the deposit sorted, or at least building up nicely in your bank account, the next thing you’ll be looking at is a mortgage.

For first-time buyers, choosing the right mortgage can be a minefield, and with so many lenders vying for your attention, it’s important you do your research.

Interest rates can vary drastically between banks and building societies and it’s important you compare offers to make sure you can afford the repayments in the long term. Some high street lenders are now offering 100% mortgages in a bid to attract buyers with no deposits, but the interest rates on these types of mortgages are likely to be a lot higher.

In our first time buyers’ guide to mortgages, we look at the different types of mortgages available, what you’ll need to do before you can apply and how home insurance plays a part.  So if you’re not sure about repayments, interest rates and credit checks – take a look at our comprehensive guide to mortgages.

What type of house should I buy?

Choosing your dream home is all part of the excitement of stepping onto the property ladder; whether it’s your very first home or you’re a seasoned house-buyer, you’ll still get the buzz and excitement when you sign on the dotted line.

But before you find yourself swamped in mortgage applications and solicitor’s letters, you need to decide what type of property you actually want to call home.

In our guide to UK property types, we list the most common properties on offer across the country and look into some of the considerations you should have when house-hunting. 
While you may get carried away on Rightmove and fall in love with a four bedroom detached house complete with winding driveway, does the house actually tick off your needs? We look at things like parking requirements, pet-friendly properties and access.

Buying a second home

If you’re looking at pastures new, the first thing you’ll need to do is speak to a mortgage advisor to find out how much you’re able to afford to borrow second time around. This will give you a good idea of how much your current home will need to sell for before you put it on the market.

It’s also worth considering if moving is definitely the right option for you; could some home improvements make you fall in love with your current property all over again? While a renovation project such as a loft conversion or kitchen extension could cost a lot in one go, the added value to your home could benefit you in the future if you decide to sell.

If you are thinking of moving house, check out our advice for second-time buyers.

Where can I look for a house to buy?

While browsing the estate agent ads in your local paper used to be many house-hunters’ first port of call, it’s probably not the most effective way of finding the perfect property.

Online sites such as Purplebricks.com and Zoopla allow you to filter by location, property type, number of bedrooms and price range; you can then set up daily alerts for when new properties are added giving you a list of potential new homes in your inbox each day.

You still have the more traditional options of window-shopping the estate agents’ boards and newspaper ads but it’s worth actually popping into your local estate agents and striking up a relationship with them.

Many properties are snapped up before they even get online if an estate knows someone on their books is looking for a certain type of home. 

Home insurance

Seeing as your house will more than likely be the most expensive thing you ever buy, you’d be right to want to protect it and everything in it with home insurance. But what type of cover do you need?

There are loads of options on the market – Buildings and Contents to name just a couple of the main options – but which do you need?

In our guide to buying home insurance, we run through what each option actually covers from the structure of your home and subsidence to the latest TV set you bought for the living room. We also run through a glossary of terms you’ll come across when you’re shopping for insurance to make things easier for you.

We’ve also looked at eight of the most common misconceptions we hear about home insurance and have set the record straight in our home insurance myth buster.

Moving home checklist

Once you’ve found your dream home, you’ll be keen to move your stuff in and put your own stamp on the property as quickly as possible. There’s loads to remember when you’re moving home – redirecting your mail, setting up your new utilities and packing up your belongings.

It’s no wonder moving home is voted as one of the most stressful things us humans put ourselves through.

But the process can be made easier with a bit of preparation and planning; and this is where our moving house checklist will be your go-to guide when moving home. We’ve broken down our to-do list by time – so one month to go, two weeks to go etc.

We’ve covered everything you’ll need when moving from how to pack your boxes, when to inform companies of your change of address and when to empty your fridge freezer. Simply stick our checklist up on your wall and start ticking off the tasks as you complete them.

Happy moving!

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