Buying a home can be a long and complex process, but there are certain steps you can follow to make it as smooth as possible.

Define your budget and search criteria

Call a mortgage broker to get an idea of how much you can borrow. He or she will be able to search the market for the best available deal and to help you maximise your borrowing power. But don’t stretch to more than you can comfortably meet in monthly repayments and remember to keep some savings aside to meet stamp duty and other fees, and to furnish your new home. Get information about the different mortgages on offer, and start thinking about whether you want to go for a fixed or variable-rate deal.

Decide what you are looking for in a property – whether you need parking and a garden, how many bedrooms you need, if it’s a flat, whether you want it to be freehold or leasehold – and pick an area on which to focus your search. Consider what you want out of the location – are local schools, transport links and shops important to you?

Begin your search
Register with Home Fullstop specifying your exact search criteria like total budget, desired areas, type of the building and size of the property you wish to acquire. We will then email you with the most suitable properties from all over the market as well as a list of off market properties available. We are always available and happy to discuss any potential question or queries you may have to make the choice easier and to target the right properties. We can then arrange to view chosen locations at a convenient time and manner. Sometimes it is not a matter of days to find the right property; sometimes it takes weeks and months. The longer the process the most frustrating it becomes however if you choose a proactive, enthusiastic and knowledgeable Agent that will supply you with the most recent and updated property lists, it can be an adventurous and pleasurable experience. If you are out of the country or not in position to view you can request a SKYPE viewing or a short video of the property.

Making an offer
Once you have decided on the property it is crucial to make the right offer to secure it. Usually we suggest the acceptable offer. You may want to start low and negotiate with the vendor to find a price that satisfies both parties. But if you want to be sure you get the property you like – and you think it is worth the asking price – you may want to offer the full amount straight away.

Solicitors and fees
It’s important to get a good solicitor (or conveyancer) to deal with all the legal parts of the sale (known as conveyancing) and who will carry out searches (for example to find any likely rights of way, or changes or developments due in the area that might affect the property) and deal with the seller’s solicitors. They will also need to hold your deposit on the property (the difference you are personally paying between the asking price and what the mortgage lender is giving). You need to find one you can trust and word of mouth is often the best way; otherwise contact the Law Society or the Council of Licensed Conveyancers. Make sure you get a quote first!

Exchange of Contracts
After your solicitor or conveyancer has completed all the necessary checks you’ll be asked to sign a contract legally committing you to the purchase. At this point you will need to pay a deposit for the property – usually at least 5% of the price. At this point you will usually agree a date to complete the sale.

Building Insurance
You will be required to have buildings insurance in place for the date of completion. It will quote a rebuild cost in its valuation – this is the amount you need to cover.

This is when the property finally becomes yours. When your solicitor tells you that the sale is completed you can pick the keys up from the estate agent.

Useful vocabulary:
Freehold means that the sale includes the property and the land on which the property is built, and that there will be no ground rent or service charge due. You have complete ownership of both the land and property for an unlimited time.

Leasehold means that the sale does not include the land on which the property is built – instead you pay ground rent to the owner of the land – the freeholder. You only have the right to occupy the property for the length of time left on the lease. You might also have to pay a service charge too – this is usual with flats and covers maintenance and repairs to the whole building and upkeep and cleaning of communal parts of the grounds or surroundings.

Shared Ownership: allows you to own a ‘share’ in a property with another party – usually Housing Associations – and you pay them rent on their share of the property. You can normally increase your share in the property over time; this is called ‘stair casing’ and can help you eventually own 100% of the property.

Shared Equity: you do not share ownership of the property but take both a mortgage and an equity loan to fund the purchase. A deposit is also usually required. No interest is charged on the equity loan for the first five years and thereafter a low rate is usually charged. When you sell, as well as paying back both the mortgage and the loan, you need to pay a proportion of the increase in equity (if any).

Rent to Buy: allows you to rent with a view to buying at a future time at an agreed price, protecting you if property prices rise drastically. Usually if you do buy the property, the rent you have paid is returned and you can then add this to your deposit