Get independent mortgage advice to determine what you can comfortably afford.
There is no point wasting peoples time viewing houses at £150,000 if you can only afford £100,000.
We offer mortgage advice on the whole market, via our sister company NIMortgages.com, to help you establish an accurate budget so please don't hesitate to 'contact us'.
Once you have established a budget the next step is to try and get confirmation from a mortgage lender that you can get the mortgage that you need to proceed with any proposed purchase.
Not all lenders offer an 'Agreement in Principle' service but it can make a huge difference to making a succesful bid. If you are buying cash or have a cash deposit, is it readily available and can you provide evidence to the selling agent?
A purchase that will be 'cash from sale' does not make you a 'cash buyer' because if your own sale falls through you don't have the cash to proceed. A cash buyer is a person with 'cash in the bank' essentially.
When deciding which properties to view consider, location, house type and property features.
Is this house going to suit your needs? It is often said that people spend more time choosing a car than choosing a house so take time to look at what's available in your price range and preferred location and view all of the houses that meet your requirements.
When viewing, be courteous. Sounds obvious but a good relationship established at this stage could pay dividends when the negotiations start. Make a short list and arrange a second viewing of your preferred options.
Do not attempt to negotiate or make offers during the viewing as this can lead to problems later on. All negotiations must be through the agent as independent arbitrator.
The asking price should be a good guide as to the sellers expectations and, in general, your first offer can be below but close to the asking price.
How low you make your first offer will depend on your budget and how the property compares in price to other similar properties which have sold in recent times. Remember the Estate Agents job is to achieve the best possible price for the property on their vendor clients behalf so they won't press the seller to accept an offer which is below market value but it can be the starting point for a negotiation.
Again be courteous, know your budget and take sound advice.
If your offer is accepted it becomes 'Sold - subject to contract' which means that until legal contracts are signed and exchanged the sale can still collapse.
During this phase you will make your full mortgage application and instruct your solicitor to commence the legal work. A survey will be required which is normally arranged by your lender and can throw up matters which require further investigation, perhaps electrical inspections or timber or damp reports. You will need to work with the Agent and the Vendor to get these matters resolved.
There is an important underlying warning at this point - 'Caveat Emptor' meaning buyer beware. If you fail to check something out at this stage, it will be too late when you are legally committed to the purchase.
Only when all the legal matters are finalised and finance is fully approved can parties agree a completion date.
Contracts will be signed and exchanged with an agreed day of completion set some time in the future. On the day of completion, again, patience is key. Your vendor may be relying on removal companies to get all of their possessions out of the property and things can get delayed.
Traditionally keys are handed over around 2PM but be flexible if you can. Keys are most often handed to the Agent by the Vendor and collected from the Agent by the purchaser but only once confirmation has been received from the solicitors that the money has transferred and that it is ok for keys to be released.
That's it - you're in - it's your house.
A couple of final warnings - When you viewed the property it was someone's home and probably had their furniture etc in place.
On the day you move in it will probably be an empty house and can look very different - don't panic. A bit of time and effort and it will soon be your very own 'home sweet home'.