A solid starting point is to take a look at your mortgage options.

Higley Homes Hint: When establishing your mortgage capabilities at the outset you may request an Agreement In Principle/Mortgage Certificate from your mortgage provider. This is often supplied free and will demonstrate to Estate Agents that you have taken the time to establish your borrowing credentials. Being orgainsed and appearing serious can secure you a better price on any potential property.

It is important to establish how much you can borrow in order to know how much you have to spend. Once you have spoken with the bank/mortgage broker of your choice you should have a budget in mind. This budget will include the deposit  to support your mortgage, the borrowing amount agreed in prinicple by your mortgage source and the costs associated with a property

These costs commonly include a mortgage arrangement fee (fee for reserving a particular mortgage rate/product-payable to the lender), a mortgage valuation fee (survey fee) and solicitor's costs. Solicitor's costs will include a fee for the solicitor to act on your behalf in completing the legal purchase of your property. In addition there will be charges for the application of the local authority searches, land registry fee, disbursements and possibly Stamp Duty.

Stamp Duty is a tax payable to HMRC by the buyer and is due upon the completion of your purchase. Your solicitor will handle the payment of this tax on your behalf but will need to be in funds to do so prior to the completion date of your purchase. The cost of the Stamp Duty tax depends on the purchase price of your property.

Rates paid on the part of the property price within each tax band

First Time Buyers

You are eligible if you, and anyone else you're buying with, are first-time buyers and purchasing a property up to £500,000.

BandFirst Time Buyer
Up to £300,0000%
£300,001 and up to £500,000  5%

Standard residential and second home

BandStandard Buy-to-let/second home
Up to £125,0000%3%
Above £125,000 and up to £250,0002%5%
Above £250,000 and up to £925,0005% 8%
Above £925,000 and up to £1,500,000  10%13%
Above £1,500,00012%15%

Higley Homes Hint: If using a mortgage broker please be advised that many will charge you a fee to process the mortgage on your behalf. They are obliged to confirm their fee to you at the outset. This fee is different to the one mentioned above and would be in addition to the mortgage arrangement fee.

Identifying An Area Of Interest

Once you know your budget you can now start to identify properties of interest. Much house hunting is done over the internet and this is a great place to start. Using property websites like Zoopla etc will allow you to search specific price ranges and even draw your own map of certain areas of interest. These sites also offer the functionality of searching local schools, with links to Ofsted reports, and determining how far properties are to nearest public transport. As information pours over the internet you may wish to consider checking local crime rates, services, shopping and transport.

Property Viewings

Demand levels are increasing and there is generally less property entering the market tan is necessary for demand. You need to make yourself avaialble to view at short notice. When viewing property don't be shy-ask as many questions as you can. You might ask about an area or specifics about the house. The agent/owner showing you are expecting to be asked so don't feel awkward. Try and view a property of interest more than once and try to vary your viewing times. It is a good idea to see a property both in the daytime and also by night.

If you are buying a property to be near a school please check with the local authroity that the property falls within the catchment area. When buying to be near a station we would suggest you try the walk and time it-ensure that you are comfortable with the safety aspect of the journey. When viewing for a second time perhaps time the viewing to coincide with busier periods on the road/rail network to make sure that you are happy with the journey times in peak periods.

Higley Homes Hint: Remember, the Estate Agent is working for the owner so if you are not confident with their response to any questions, make your own enquiries. Agents are obliged not to make any false or misleading comments to you.

Making An Offer

OK...so you have found  a property you like. Before making an offer make sure you are happy with the information that you have received on the property for example.

  • If buying a leasehold property,do you know how many years are left on the lease?, what the ground rent is?, what the service charge is?
  • If you are buying a house are you happy that the garage is included within the freehold and does not attract a ground rent or is on a separate lease
  • Are you clear whether the owner will be involved in a chain or is the property chain free
  • Are there any other offers currently being considered

Once you are satisifed it is time to make an offer. It may be a good idea to check any similar properties that have been sold in the area to give you a realistic starting point. Zoopla offer a sold price list. When using this data it is worth keeping in mind that these figures are provided by the land registry and often won't include any property that has completed within the last 10-12 weeks.

Higley HomesHint: When making an offer you may be encouraged by the Estate Agency to ' have a chat with their mortgage adviser-as they may be able to save you some money' this may be the case but remember you do not have to use the agent's mortgage source, you are free to use whichever mortgage provider you so choose and this should not affect how your offer is presented to the owner. In most cases the agency will earn a fee if you use their mortgage services.

Consider whether your offer is made with conditions for example, (inclusion of certain furniture items)This is also the point where you may want to establish that the property is withdrawn from the market in your favour and you should confirm whether there is a chain connected to the sale of the property.

Higley Homes Hint: It may be prudent to have the Estate Agent confirm to you in writing that the owner has agreed to remove the property from the market if that is the agreement made.

We hope that you have found this brief guide helpful and it just leaves us to wish you happy house hunting!