Buyer's Guide Feature

Be it your first studio flat or a step up the ladder to a four bedroom detached house, buying a home can be an exciting but often stressful time. This guide has been put together by Giggs & Bell to give you the information to help reduce the stress and make moving home a more enjoyable process.

Working out what you can afford

The first thing to look at is how much you can afford to borrow. This will give you an indication of what type of property and price range you can look at. For help and information with mortgages an Independent Mortgage Advisor is the best option. They have a wider range of products which they can look at, with a variance in fees and fixed rate % schemes. If you have an existing mortgage it’s always advisable to get a quote from an Independent Advisor as they may be able to offer you a better rate or an option to take the mortgage with you to your new home. Take care to find out any upfront costs for arranging the mortgage. Once you have found the best deal that suits you, ensure that you receive a copy of your agreement in principle (or AIP) which confirms you have been approved to borrow a certain amount of money. This is important as it will be required when you make an offer on a property. There are several other costs to consider: Survey costs, Stamp Duty, Land Registry fees, Environmental searches, Removal fees etc. Many of these costs will be paid through your Conveyance Company. Get a few direct quotes with a breakdown of all the costs from a number of Solicitors or Conveyance Companies at the point of purchasing your new home.

Looking for your new home

This is the exciting part, now you have your budget you can go and find a new home! Have a look on websites such as Rightmove and see what sort of property is available in your price range. Think about location, what are your main requirements for the property and discuss areas you could compromise on. Register your details along with your search requirements with all the Local Agents in the area. This will prompt new property details to be sent directly to you for viewing. It is important to do this as many of the best properties will sell before you even see them advertised.

Making an offer

Once you have found the house you like, contact the Estate Agent and make an offer. Have your agreement in principle ready as they will need to see this before they put the offer forward to the Seller. Equally if you are a cash buyer, they would require proof of funds in the form of a statement. Make the Agent aware of your circumstances so the offer is put forward in the best light. For example, if you are in rented accommodation your offer would be chain free and also tell them how fast you can move. Don’t forget to find out what is included in the sale and use this as part of your negotiations e.g. curtains, carpets, appliances, fixtures and fittings.


Once your offer has been accepted you must advise your Mortgage Company or Lender of the deal and arrange for a survey to be carried out. There are 3 types of surveys: The first is the cheapest option, about £300-£400 and the most basic which is a Mortgage Valuation survey. It just confirms that the price you’ve paid for the property is consistent with the current market value in the area. This then enables the Mortgage Lender to agree to the funding of the money against your property.
The second is a Homebuyer’s survey, about £450-£600 it will check the property for anything that may be at fault or look suspicious and jeopardise the value or integrity of the house. This is fairly thorough and is probably the most popular. The third and most expensive is a full Structural survey about £600-£1,500; this covers the entire property and checks the structural integrity in depth, as well as the recommended fixes for any problems or faults which have come to light. If you are buying a property that is particularly old or in need of repair or restoration this may be necessary.
But for most houses that are built from the 1900’s onwards a Homebuyer’s survey should cover everything you need.

Choosing a Solicitor

Check that your Mortgage Lender doesn’t require you to use their panel of Solicitors. If not then you’re Mortgage Broker or Estate Agent will be able to advise or offer help with this, but equally speak to family and friends in order to find out who they have used or can recommend. Don’t always go for the cheapest and speak to them first, pick someone you consider to be trustworthy and finally give their contact details to the Estate Agent when you are ready.

House insurance

Exchange of Contracts

There will be a number of legalities to go through before exchange of contracts takes place, the process usually takes about 6 weeks. At the point of exchange a date for completion or moving day needs to be arranged, this has to be agreed throughout the chain. The deposit funds will be transferred when you exchange which means you are now in a much more secure position for buying your home. Until this point try not to get too committed about your purchase as any number of things can affect the purchase or sale of a house.

Completion of Purchase

Make sure you have arranged to have everything connected in the new home like the TV, internet, etc and your insurance should now be in place. The rest of the funds for the purchase of the property will be transferred on this day. The money needs to be received by the party you’re purchasing from before the keys can be released to you. It can take a few hours so be prepared to wait around. When it has completed call your Estate Agent to check where to pick up the keys.

Moving in

Congratulations! You have now bought your home. Ensure you’ve got your Removal Company or friends ready in order to help you make the move. Check the meter readings when you arrive and have your essentials packed in a box so they’re to hand, like kettles, coffee and tea bags to sustain your army of movers.