1. Plan ahead and sort out your finances by speaking to a whole-of-market mortgage adviser. Ask them to explain all the costs that you are likely to incur, find out how much you can borrow and insure you are comfortable with the repayments. If you don’t have a large deposit, consider the government ‘Help to Buy’ schemes. These can help reduce the deposit you need or save a deposit faster. Don’t go direct to a single lender without checking first with a whole of market adviser to see if better deals are available.
2. Decide on your preferred locations, property types and priorities but be flexible. You will probably have to make compromises when choosing your new home. If certain criteria are non-negotiable, be sure you are clear in your mind what these are. This will avoid wasting your time, viewing unsuitable homes and possibly a very expensive mistake.
3. Visit the local agents personally and build a relationship. Don’t just rely on the Internet, as often the best properties are sold even before they appear on portals. That telephone call from an estate agent who is aware of your requirements, and how keen you are, could help secure you the perfect home. They may also be prepared to canvas areas and house styles of particular interest to you.
4. Always view properties you like at least twice. You will take in far more detail second time round. Walk around the immediate vicinity; you can get a far better feel for an area on foot and also visit at different times of day. You may even wish to speak to the neighbours to find out what they think of the area and what they are like.
5. Ask questions about the property you are interested in purchasing. How long has it been on the market? Has there been a lot of interest or offers? What is the minimum the vendor will accept? You may not get definitive answers but you may get clues that are useful when it comes to deciding how much to offer.
6. Ensure your offers are attractive to sellers. Do so by providing evidence of your ability to purchase and all the information needed to proceed. This will usually include; details of your sale and/or proof of deposit, proof that your mortgage has been agreed, details of your solicitor, ID and proof of address. DO NOT, HOWEVER, SUPPLY DETAILS OF THE MAXIMUM YOU CAN BORROW OR ALLOW A FINANCIAL ADVISER TO DO SO. This information can be used against you in negotiations.
7. Remember when putting offers forward to an estate agent you are effectively talking to the seller. If you make an opening offer and advise the agent you are prepared to pay more, you have, in effect, just agreed to pay more and there is little or no chance your initial offer will be accepted. If your offer is declined, do not act in haste when putting forward an increased offer, give the vendor time to consider the merits of your current offer and that you may be considering other properties. They may reconsider their position.
8. Make sure that you get the very best mortgage. Even if you think you have decided on a mortgage lender and scheme, ask your mortgage adviser to recheck that this is still the best deal when you secure a property. The mortgage market changes almost daily and there may be a new scheme with better rates and or terms available.
9. Have a survey and other checks that make you comfortable. This may be a comprehensive survey plus reports on electric installations, gas appliance, timber and damp and other matters, or could be a thorough inspection you carry out yourself if you are an expert property buyer. The golden rule is that if you are not 100% sure, get it checked by an appropriate professional who can give you the degree of comfort you personally need.
10. Use a solicitor with expert local knowledge that has been recommended by people you trust. Your home is likely to be your biggest asset and errors and mistakes are hard to rectify. Always meet with your solicitor to go through the paperwork face to face and get them to explain anything you don’t fully understand. Do this well before signing on the dotted line and parting with your hard earned money. A cheap conveyancer you can’t visit, without local knowledge can be a false economy.