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1st time buying guide

The 0com.co.uk Guide to Buying Property - First-Time Buyers
Here is our suggested 10-step process for buying a new property. 

Please also do your own research, and your own requirements may vary depending on your circumstances.
1. Finance
Contact a mortgage broker, and work out approximately how much you can afford to pay for your home, based on your maximum borrowing limit, plus any other savings you have, minus solicitor's fees, stamp duty, and other one-off moving costs.

Research mortgage deals available, and consider what would be the best deal for you. Ensure you can comfortably afford your monthly mortgage payments - it may be useful to draw up a monthly budget. Remember that you will have bills and insurance (buildings and housing) as well as mortgage payments to consider, and ensure you allow for contingencies.
Tip: find a solicitor now, to do the conveyancing work later.
2. Requirements
Decide what you want in a property – size, location, facilities, and so on. 
You may want to prioritize your requirements, in terms of "must have" against "nice to have". 
3. Research
Research your required properties, at sites such as 0com.co.uk. Once you have found properties you like, you can then view them. This can be a time-consuming process, it may take several months of looking in some cases. On viewing, examine the condition of the property, including fixtures and fittings.
Tip: view properties you like at least twice, preferably at different times of day / night, so that you can judge the neighbourhood properly.
4. Offer
Once you find a property you want, now offer a price for it. Depending on factors such as market conditions, the vendor's circumstances, and your own position, you may be able to negotiate a lower price than the asking price. For example, as a first time "cash" buyer, you can make a chain-free offer, allowing you to complete quickly and with no risk, so you may be able to offer a reduced price for a quicker sale.
If successful, the vendor will accept your offer. Ensure the property is now taken off the market as being "under offer".
5. Paperwork
You can now: 
 - Ask your solicitor / conveyancing agent to start the conveyancing process.
 - Contact your mortgage lender, and arrange a mortgage application
 - Book a survey: your mortgage lender will arrange a basic survey, but you should also arrange a more detailed survey yourself - possibly a full structural survey.
This process can be time-consuming, but you need to ensure there are no problems before you buy the property. Read all the paperwork, and ensure you are happy with all the conditions and results, before you proceed.
6. Exchange
You can now sign and exchange contracts with the vendor, including paying a deposit (typically 5-10% of the agreed price), and agreeing a completion date.
Once contacts are exchanged, you are legally committed.
7. Removals
Organise the move – plan how to get your contents into your new property. You may want to book a removals firm, or hire a van yourself, depending on your level of contents. Remember to allow adequate time for moving, and ensure you have enough packing materials and transport organised for the moving day.
8. Bills
Arrange buildings and contents insurance for the property. Contact utilities providers for the property to ensure supply of these utilities when you move in.
9. Complete
The completion date is when you take ownership of the property. You can now collect the keys to the property.
10. Move!
You can now move in to the property – congratulations! 

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