Your home is almost certainly the largest single investment you will ever make in your life. However, it is not just an investment. Its primary function is to provide your family and you with somewhere to live.
Step 1 — Budget
Step 2 — Location
For many people, the location of the home is the most important consideration.
Step 3 — Property particulars and viewing
Step 4 — Making an offer
Step 5 — Surveys and valuations
Step 6 — Getting the funds
A deposit, usually of 10% of the price, is needed when contracts are exchanged.
For the remainder, unless you have the money available,
Step 7 — Legal Advice
It is in most cases essential to get a solicitor to take care of the legal procedures. One of the most important legal details is the title to the property. This may be freehold, or leasehold.
Freehold means that the owner has full-unrestricted ownership, with the right to sell the property. Most houses and bungalows are freehold.
Leasehold means that the owner has the property for a restricted time only — (usually up to 100 years).
Step 8 — Exchange contracts
When all the legal formalities are carried out satisfactorily, you are ready to exchange contracts. At this stage, things such as what items are being left in the house are agreed(e.g. carpets, curtains etc).
Step 9 — Completion
A date is agreed for completion of the contracts when the lender will hand over the money, and the seller will hand over the keys. You may move in to the house at any time from that date.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is the body which controls surveyors who carry out surveys for property buyers. You can search their web site for a local surveyor at www.rics.org
The Office of Fair Trading is a government body dedicated to protecting consumers’ rights. Their web site has a section devoted to buying or selling a home and a PDF download called A quick guide to buying or selling your home.
The Law Society is the body governing solicitors. On their web site, you can find a solicitor in your locality, and you can also apply for their free guide to buying a home. www.lawsoc.org.uk
For more information about mortgages and regulations, visit the section on mortgages on the site Money Made Clear, created by the FSA.