Use a Mortgage Deposit Calculator. Deals become more competitive at 10% or 15%, and for the really decent rates, you need 25%.
Use Historical Sales-Prices tools to research realistic prices of a road and area. Rightmove, Zoopla and Nethouseprices are amongst the most commonly used.
Consider typical timeline (for England and Wales)
- Find a property: Research the area, scour estate agents and search websites: 3 to 9 months
- Offer to Exchange: 2 to 8 weeks
- Exchange to Move In: 0 to 2 weeks.
Boost your credit rating.
Arrange a mortgage in principle
House prices are markets, just like shares.
No one can guarantee what's going to happen to house prices, though many will try.
Check out the neighbourhood
Use the right property finders. Rightmove and Zoopla are the most popular.
Before putting in an offer, pose as many questions as possible. Typical questions include:
How many viewings has it had?
How many offers has it had?
How long has it been on the market?
Can I see electrical and gas installation checks/reports?
How long is the lease (if it has one)?
Have there been any neighbour disputes?
Why are the vendors moving and are they sure they want to sell now?
What renovations have been done?
How old is the boiler and when was it last inspected?
When was it last rewired?
Where are the vendors moving to - is there a chain?
If a flat, how much are service charges and ground rent?
Who lives upstairs/downstairs/next door?
How long has the seller lived there?
What's included in the sale? White goods? Curtains? Wood burner?
Are there any parking issues?
If there's a real fireplace, is it safe to use?
Have there been any subsidence problems?
What's the council tax band?
With the Owner/Agent's permission, take photo's during the viewing. You can use them as a reference point.
View at different times of day to get an idea of what the flat and neighbourhood are like.
Set an alert on Rightmove and it will email each time a property lists in the area you're interested in.
Knock on a neighbours door. They may offer tip-offs on the area or home, but it's also a chance for you to get the measure of them.
Use Rightmove's tool to discover which schools are nearby and how they rank.
If you don't want to live in the property until you die, consider ease of resale.
To find out how much Stamp Duty you'll have to pay, use an online Stamp Duty Calculator
Look for at least 83 years on the lease. When flats have 80 years or less left, extensions become very costly and homes much more difficult to sell. Under 60 years, it's a nightmare.
Beware leaseholds on new-build houses. In late 2016 it emerged that buyers of new-build properties were being caught in a leasehold trap.
Check what's being built in the area. Will that picture-postcard sea view be replaced by a high rise in a couple of months?
Make your offer on the condition that the seller “takes the home off the market".
Chase your solicitor. To put it politely, some solicitors work at their own pace.
Considering buying a leasehold flat? Can you buy the freehold?
Auction properties can be cheaper than market values. There are properties out there for under £20,000, but auctions don't always equal bargains. Research and renovations are usually needed.
Get the right survey. There are two main types of survey. The first is a homebuyer's report. This normally costs £300-£400 and is suitable for conventional properties less than 50 years old. For older or quirkier residences, consider a full structural survey.
Flood risk has a significant impact on insurance premiums and a property's value. Carry out research on whether and why an area's at risk.
Check your council tax band. Up to 400,000 homes in England and Scotland may have been in the wrong band since the early 1990s.
10 Top Questions to ask the seller, before Completion:
Where's the main stopcock (to shut off the water)?
Where are the gas and electricity meters?
Do any surfaces need special cleaning products, for example, wooden floors?
What day do the dustmen come?
Do you have any old tins of paint in the same colour as the walls?
Do you have any instruction manuals or warranties on electrical items?
Where did the kitchen and bathroom tiles come from?
Where did any fixed furniture come from, eg, kitchen cabinets?
Who supplies the energy, broadband and home phone?
Where is the thermostat?
Removals; check the company belongs to the British Association of Removers.
Get home insurance quotes before buying.
Don't buy your lenders' mortgage life assurance. Shop around for quotes.