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Step-by-step guide to buying

Buying a property for the first time can seem a bewildering jumble of jargon, lawyers and cost. We've demystified the process with our simple guide to buying, explaining the step-by-step process and giving some guidance to the length of time involved.

Step 1

Find the property you want to buy. This could be as short as an afternoon or as long as a year, depending on your budget and the property available. Once you've identified the place you want, you need to make an offer on it, which indicates to the vendor that you are interested but will be subject to a successful survey and have other conditions attached.

Step 2

To make an offer, usually through an estate agent, you will need a solicitor. It's at this point you should speak to Homeward Legal's experienced sales team and get ready to instruct a solicitor.

Step 3

Secure your finance. Applying for a mortgage and being given a formal offer may actually be the first step in house-buying for many people - lots of first-time buyers apply for a mortgage and get an agreement in principle to give them a better idea of how much they can spend on their new home. Start shopping around and securing a mortgage offer as early as possible to ensure your finance is in place as the conveyancing progresses.

Step 4

Arrange to have a survey carried out. Your mortgage lender will indicate what kind of survey they require - like to be a Building Survey or a HomeBuyers' Report. Our sister site, Surveyor Local, can provide you with all the expert information you need to make an informed decision on what survey is necessary.

Step 5

Your solicitor or conveyancer will order searches (link) to be carried out and will negotiate with the vendor's solicitor over the price, discussing and resolving any issues uncovered by the survey and offering a potential exchange date. This is the part of the buying process that is most frustrating for buyers as most of the action here is out of your hands. You will be asked to sign documents and contracts by your solicitor and you should respond quickly to any requests for signatures or information to keep things moving. A straightforward conveyancing, where the searches are completed in timely fashion and no problems are uncovered by a survey or searches, can be completed in around eight weeks, but be prepared for matters to take longer.

Step 6

You will sign and exchange contracts with the vendor. At this point all your finance, including deposit and mortgage, must be in place as your solicitor will have to demonstrate proof of funds to the vendor. Again you should do all you can to stay in touch with the lender and know the arrangements required to transfer your deposit to your solicitor.

Step 7

The purchase is complete and you will be given the keys to your new home.

If you're a first-time buyer, check out Homeward Legal's comprehensive First-Time Buyers' Hub where all your questions about purchasing for the very first time are covered in detail.​

Free Guides for First Time Buyers

Homeward Legal has put together some handy guides to help you with your first property purchase. Let us know if there is anything we've missed, and as ever, feel free to call 0800 038 6699

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