Before you start searching for a property it is wise to calculate what you can actually afford to spend.

1. First time buyer?
If you are a first time buyer this will involve a visit to a mortgage advisor or Building Society to assess how much you can borrow and how much deposit you will need in order to proceed with the purchase. The deposit is the amount you can put towards the purchase yourself. The amount of deposit required will vary between the different lending institutions and on the economic climate at that particular time.

As a general rule the more deposit you can put down the more attractive the interest rate you will be charged on your loan. This is because the Bank or Building Society will feel more secure in the knowledge that their investment in the property is not for the full value of the dwelling so that even if house prices fall they should be able to get their money back.

2. Already own a property?
People who already own a property and are seeking to move to a new one will also need to calculate how much they can afford. This will be a two stage process. First will be to work out approximately how much your existing property is worth and this is usually done by contacting an estate agent (see panel to the right). If you have not got a mortgage on the property and are able to purchase the type of dwelling you require without a new mortgage then you have all the information you need to start searching.

If you need a mortgage you will then need to speak to your existing lender and it will also be worth speaking to some other Banks and Building Societies in order that you can select the best deal. Once you have this information you are ready to start searching for a property.

3. Property to sell?
If you have a property to sell you will have to make a decision as to when you put your property on the market. It is our experience that those who are most successful in buying and selling properties tend to do both things at the same time. That is if you are serious about finding a new home then it is sensible to have your property up for sale at the same time.

4. Searching for property?
Once you have decided on the features that you require in your new home and the price range in which you are able to look then it is a case of beginning your search. These days it can start on sites such as this and you will be able to put in the criteria of the property you are searching for and instantly obtain a list of available dwellings. It is also worth looking in the local papers for the area that you are seeking a home and also contacting local Estate Agents to be put on their books.

We would use a word of caution if you are limiting your search to the internet in that if you put in a search criteria and stick to it then you may miss out on properties which are a little bit above the price range you have suggested or do not quite have all the features you are looking for. This is where visiting Estate Agents can be extremely helpful in that they will be able to advise you of properties where the owners might negotiate a little bit more on their price or are able to elaborate more on the details of a particular property and let you know that although the property does not have the specific feature you are looking for it could possibly be adapted to provide it.

5. Viewing a property?
Once you have drawn up a short list it is then a case of making arrangements to view the properties and it is wise to view as many as you can that have the majority of features you are looking for. You will soon be able to build up in your own mind what, in your opinion, are the best value for money properties and these will probably be worth a second visit.

6. Putting in an offer?
Once you have found a property that you would like to purchase it is then a case of putting in an offer to the estate agent and hoping that you will be able to agree a mutually acceptable figure between you and the owner. Once this has been agreed it will then be a case of advising your Bank or Building Society, who will undertake a mortgage valuation. If you wish to have a more in-depth survey carried out, most will be able to organise this for you at an extra cost. If you are purchasing with cash then you will need to decide whether a survey would be prudent. There are many independant surveyors who will be able to carry this out for you.

You will then also need to choose a solicitor and we would always strongly recommend that you use a solicitor local to the area in which you live or local to the area in which you are buying.

7. Exchanging contracts and contract completion!
If everything is okay with the mortgage valuation and your solicitor is happy with everything from the legal side then you will be in a position to exchange contracts and this is when a deposit is paid by you to your solicitor for them to pass onto the owner's solicitor. At this point the deal becomes legally binding. Up until that moment the vendor and purchaser are able to withdraw from the agreement.

At the time of exchange of contracts the completion will be set. This is a mutually agreed date between all parties involved and will be the date on which you actually move home.

As a purchaser you will be required to pay stamp duty to the Government. For the current stamp duty rates please contact us.

At the end of this process you will hopefully be able to then relax in the home of your dreams.

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