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How to Start Planning to Buy a House Guide

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

Tempted to buy a house?

The house-buying process can be as daunting as it is exciting! There are many different things to consider, from establishing your budget to registering with property portals.

So, if you’ve thought to yourself ‘I want to buy a house’ but aren’t sure how to go about it, we’re here to help.

Here’s some essential advice for how to start planning to buy a house.

Preparing to buy a house

Whether you're buying your first home and it will be your first time on the property ladder or not, buying a house is always a nerve-wracking experience. However, the process is also exciting!

So, if you’re certain it’s time to buy a house, here’s some tips to get you prepared:

Know what you need from your home

The first step to buying a house is knowing what you need, and what you want.

While it’s important not to be too picky, or have an extensive wish-list, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Understand what your deal-breakers are, and what you couldn’t live without.

This will help you in your search, and you won’t waste time looking at properties you aren’t really interested in.

While everyone has aesthetic preferences, it’s important not to let these be the deciding factors. Don’t let the perfect property pass you by for trivial reasons!

Be realistic about your expectations also. Focus on what’s really important and what you need in your new home.

Know where you want to live

Remember, you can change a house but you can’t change its location. So, as part of your property buyer research, ensure you know everything about where you want to live.

It’s important to be specific about where you want to move, what you want nearby and what interests you in the broader area.

There are numerous things to consider, including:

• Local amenities
• Transport links
• Your commute to work

It can be a balancing act, but, being more specific about location will allow you to achieve a stronger understanding of your market. A search that stretches across 3 counties might be less effective than one which covers only a few villages or streets.

It’s worthwhile visiting your ideal area regularly and spending some time there to get a feel for whether it’s right for you.

Areas can change by day or night, so it’s important to get a feel for what it would actually be like to live there. A location can make a great first impression, but this can change!

Check your credit score

Before applying for a mortgage, check your credit score.

Any mistakes, such as a wrong address, can cause your application to be rejected.

Get a mortgage in principle

Find out what your borrowing power looks like. Getting a mortgage in principle from a lender will give you a concrete idea of what you can achieve financially.

Plus, getting a mortgage in principle will help you secure a sale, as you’ll be able to prove you can afford a property. This will make you a more attractive buyer to potential vendors.

Establish your budget

Wondering what you need to do before buying a house? One of the most important steps is to set your budget. While everyone has an idea of their dream home, it’s important to establish what you can get for your price range.

So, take the time to work out what you can afford. Look at previous spending habits, bank accounts and bills to understand what your maximum amount would be.

Where will your budget get you?

Once you’ve settled on the budget, look at what this will get you in the area you’re looking to move to.

House prices vary widely depending on location, transport links and size, so there’s no hard and fast rule for what you’ll get for your money.

If the properties on offer are a little disappointing, there are a few options:

• Increase your budget
• Reduce your requirements
• Look at other areas
• Find a solicitor

Work out the cost of buying

While setting a budget for your new home is important, there are many other costs to consider. These include:

• Stamp duty
• Surveys
• Solicitor fees
• Removal costs
• Maintenance work
• Extra furnishings

It’s important to factor in the other costs when preparing to buy a house!

Start saving

It’s likely that, even once you’ve established your budget, you’ll need to start saving. Ensure you’re aware of how much money to save before buying a house.

This can vary widely depending on different circumstances.

You’ll need to have the money together for a deposit, which is usually around 5% of the property’s value.

So, when it comes to preparing to buy a house, a healthy savings account never hurts!

Get a solicitor

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or not, choosing a solicitor is an important step in the house-buying process.

Ensure the solicitor you choose is a good communicator, is reliable and will help resolve any problems which arise. This is certainly an industry where the cheapest isn’t always the best option.

Speak to family and friends to get recommendations. Doing thorough research is the best way to ensure the solicitor you choose will be the right one for you.

Register with property portals

When you’re at the home buying preparation stage, it’s a good idea to register with one or two of the large property portals.

This will give you a feel for the type of properties on the market and the prices on offer. You can also set up notifications to alert you when new homes become available. This especially helpful if you have a favourite street, as you can set up alerts for this specific location alone.

Use these portals as a research tool to help you gauge the affordability, size and locations available to you. It’s also a helpful point of reference that can help you work out what market conditions are like in your ideal area.

Look for the following:

• Are there lots of new properties coming onto the market?
• How quickly are the properties sold?
• Are asking prices reduced or usually met?

By doing this, you’ll achieve an understanding of which properties move quickly and which are overpriced.

Researching other properties in your chosen area can give you a good feel for where to set your offer, when the time comes.

Speak to local estate agents

You can’t just rely on the information you get online. Moreover, not all properties which come onto the market will go on the major property portals.

The best chance you have of finding out about the best properties is by building a strong relationship with local estate agents.

You’ll be able to work out which agents make the effort and are keen to do a deal. It’s also worthwhile keeping an eye out for any agents that specialise in the type of property you’re looking for.

Contact agents regularly but make sure you don’t appear desperate. Going in and seeing them face-to-face is often a very effective option. You may unearth more opportunities visiting the estate agents in person.

Monitor for-sale signs

Keep an eye out for for-sale signs! When preparing to buy a house, keep your eyes peeled for any potential properties that might have just been put on the market.

Also, monitor for-sale listings! You want to be aware of all potential properties available to you.

 

Work out your timeline

Once some of the initial planning process is complete, it’s helpful to put a rough timeline together.

When would you like the sale to take place by? How long do you anticipate it will take to get the necessary funds together?

Every sale and all circumstances are individual, so it’s important to work out what timeline works for you.

Keep in mind that the quicker you can push the sale through, the more attractive you will look to potential sellers. While it’s important not to rush, showing you’re committed to the sale should ensure that the process goes more quickly.

Tips for buying a house

Part of the house-buying preparation process is viewings. While these can seem daunting, they’re an exciting step toward a new chapter in your life!

Ask plenty of questions

When preparing to buy a house, the more you know the better!

Before you even think of putting in an offer, ensure you’ve gathered as much information as possible from the agent or seller by asking plenty of questions. These questions can include:

• How long has the property been on the market?
• How many others are interested?
• What renovations have been carried out?
• Are the sellers in a chain?

It’s important you know everything about a potential property before placing your offer.

View it more than once

Never place an offer after only viewing a property once! Visit the property as many times as you can. This has many benefits, but the main one is that you’ll notice things you missed last time.

Also, try to go at different times of the day. This will help you to see the property differently, and form a complete picture in your head.

Visiting the property is one of the most important things to do before buying a house. So, the more times you go the better!

Establish deal-breakers

Certain circumstances mean that a property isn’t the best choice for you. When viewing a property, make a list of ‘deal-breakers’ or problems that need to be fixed before you make an offer:

• Damp
• Faulty wiring (check light switches)
• Broken doors or windows
• Broken plumbing
• Unreliable vendor
• Maintenance works
• Problems with neighbours’ properties
• Broken sockets
• Radiator leaks
• Faulty heating

Chat to neighbours

Neighbours can give you plenty of inside information and inform you of everything you need to know on the local area.

Don’t limit this just to the neighbours directly next door! You want to get a complete picture of a potential property, and talking to neighbours can help you achieve this.

Buying a house?

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