A Brick-by-Brick Guide to Buying Your Own Home

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Written by Michael Foote, founder of Quote Goat, has over 13 years experience working in the finance, insurance and currency sectors.

When it comes to buying your own home, this is one of the biggest decisions that you will make throughout your entire life so it is not something that can be rushed. It is important that you take your time and take a step-by-step (or brick-by-brick) approach so you are certain that you have made the right decision. You need to start by identifying your own needs so you can find a property that best matches them. And when it comes to buying a home, the location is everything. Looking around several properties is a must to give you a good basis of comparison. With all this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the stages of buying a new home.

Identify Your Needs and Budget

First of all, you should think carefully about what you are looking for out of a home. Do you want a city centre apartment that is close to work? Do you need a house in the suburbs that has room for a growing family? Everyone has their own individual requirements, so it is worth writing out a checklist and arranging this in priority order to give yourself the best chance of finding a place that ticks all the boxes. Next, you need to work out your budget so you are only searching for properties that are within your price range. There is no point setting your heart on a particular property, only to find that it is completely unaffordable. Remember, if you spend the entirety of your budget on the property itself, then you will have nothing left to do any decoration or development so this is worth bearing in mind.

Decide Where You Want to Live

If you already know the area fairly well, choosing a neighbourhood is a lot easier. However, if you are moving to somewhere that you have never lived before, the process becomes a lot more challenging. Again, it all comes back to what your needs are. Think about how far you would have to commute to get to work, but also whether there are people in a similar situation to yourself living nearby (young professionals, families etc). Look at what sort of facilities are available and consider how your life would be if you decided to move there.    

Start Researching Early

When you commit to buying a new home, you need to start your research at the earliest possible opportunity so you can get the fullest picture of what is available. Obviously, the internet has become an invaluable tool when you are looking at different options of properties for sale, but you should still scour newspapers, magazines and actually go into estate agents. From the listings, you will be able to identify what is in your price range and the description of the property should give you a better idea of how closely it matches your dream home. At this point, it is worth being open-minded, though you will start to become more selective later on.

Sort Out Your Current Living Situation

If you already own your own home, you need to decide whether you would like to sell it before you but your new property. This can be risky as it puts more pressure on you to find a new place quickly. However, it does put you in a situation in which you can act quickly when you do find a home that is right for you. If you are renting, take a closer look at your current agreement and how much notice you need to give when you want to move out. It is often tough to strike the right balance between acting quickly and choosing when to leave your current house so this is something that you will need to consider closely.

Get Your Finances in Order

Now is the time to start pulling your finances together so your can to sort out a mortgage. If your funds are scattered about in various different places, you need to get everything in order. This will give you a better idea of what sort of mortgage you can get as a first time buyer. It is worth taking advice from the experts who will be able to talk you through the different options available to you. If you can’t get a mortgage before you buy, a mortgage in principle will put you in an altogether stronger position.

Choose Specific Properties to View

Now comes the tricky bit; actually deciding on what property you would like to buy. Through your research, you will have identified a number of potential candidates, so it will be time to start contacting local estate agents and arranging viewings of those properties. You need to visit as many properties as you can, and make sure that you are fully satisfied that they match up with the description. When you are going around, ask as many questions as you can think of. This is your opportunity to make sure that everything about the property stacks up and that there are no hidden surprises. Try not to be too influenced by the current decoration as this can be changed when you move in. Think about the bigger picture as much as possible and whether you can see yourself living here.

Visit the Neighbourhood

Once you have settled on one or two properties that you think seem ideal for you, it is worth paying a visit to the neighbourhood. Simply walking around the surrounding area can give you a much fuller picture of what life would be like there. Stop for a coffee and a bite to eat in a local cafe or restaurant. Even talk to some of the people in the area if you can. This visit can end up confirming or denying whether or not this is are you would like to live.

Make an Offer and Get it Accepted

There is usually some negotiation that goes on here, so take your time before you decide how much you are going to offer in the first instance. Make an offer to the estate agent and wait for the response. There is likely to be some haggling over the price, but it all depends how much interest there has been in the property as well as how motivated the seller is to offload the property in the first place. Once your offer has been accepted, it is time to start arranging the finer details.

Arrange a Mortgage

As we talked about earlier, you will hopefully have already arranged your finances and be ready to go back to your mortgage company with the agreed offer. If you haven’t already got your finances in order, it may well end up being a race against time to make sure that you do so now. The last thing that you want to happen is everything to fall through at this late stage. Some people also look into getting life insurance at this point. 

There will be all kinds of legal work that needs to be completed in order to transfer the property over to you. Most people have this done by the professionals, but some choose to do this themselves in order to save money. If you do go down this road, you will want to make sure that you are totally confident that everything has been properly taken care of.

Final Preparations

Now is finally the time to complete the sale and take possession of your new home. You may want to make some final negotiations about the appliances in the home, and also arrange final logistical details including phone line, water, home insurance and household energy etc.   

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