Steps to buying a house (1-5)

In this brief guide, we are going to discuss the steps to buying a house in the UK and what you should consider when buying a house in the UK.

Steps to buying a house

If you are looking at buying a house then these are the steps to buying a house

  • Shop for a house online
  • Meet estate agents
  • Get your credit report
  • Get your supporting documents
  • Get a mortgage broker
  • Get a government scheme
  • Get a conveyancer
  • Get a mortgage
  • Get house insurance
  • Pay your stamp duty

Shop for a house online

The first step to buying a house is shopping online.

You can shop for a house online on platforms such as Zoopla, Rightmove or on the market. These platforms allow you to request different criteria which you want your ideal house to fit into. 

You could look at the distance from the local schools, the rate of crime in the area and other factors.

Meet estate agents

Once you have found a house you want to buy the next steps to buying a house will be to meet the local estate agents responsible for the property you want to purchase.

The estate agents will take you on a property viewing for the property, let you know how likely you are to get a reduced offer from the house seller.

If you are interested in the property you will then need to contact a solicitor and make a formal offer to the seller via the estate agent.

Get your credit report

If you are unsure of what your credit score is then you should check your credit score from the four credit bureaus in the UK: Experian, Crediva, Equifax and Transunion.

Some of these credit bureaus may charge you a fee to view your credit report so what you can alternatively do is request a statutory credit report which is a free credit report which each credit bureau must provide to you upon you requesting it.

Alternatively, you can also use credit score services such as Checkmyfile and clearscore to check your credit report.

Your credit score and report is very important as they will determine your ability to get a mortgage with a suitable mortgage rate.

If you do not have any credit score or you have bad credit then getting a suitable mortgage could be very hard.

Get your supporting documents

Once you have gotten your credit score and have a fair idea of what sort of mortgage rate you may be eligible for, your next step could be to get all your supporting documents together so you can make a mortgage in principle application.

The supporting documents you will need for must mortgage applications include:

  • 3 months worth of payslips
  • 3 months worth of bank statements
  • Your credit report
  • Your p60 tax return slip
  • Your SA302  statement

Get a mortgage broker

Once you have gotten your supporting documents together you may want to consult with a mortgage broker.

You may want to use an independent mortgage broker to help you get a mortgage on your new home.

Mortgage brokers are important as they can access mortgage products from across the whole of the market in some cases.

This could be over 11,000 mortgage products. This may have some advantages rather than going directly to a mortgage lender.

A mortgage broker will look to understand your financial circumstances and then provide recommendations on which mortgage products may be suitable for you based on your mortgage affordability.

After giving you these mortgage recommendations, most mortgage brokers will seek your consent to apply for a mortgage in principle

This will allow you to shop for your home as more estate agents and sellers may take you seriously and it will also give you confidence that your mortgage is indeed a possibility before you make a full mortgage application. 

Once you have found a home you want to buy and are satisfied with the mortgage offer for your mortgage then the mortgage broker will then look to get you a mortgage offer.

This will come with a key facts illustration document that details the features of your mortgage including how much you will pay per month.

It will also contain information on if there are any limits such as early repayment fees, or annual overpayment limits.

If you are happy with everything you can then go on to secure your mortgage with the help of a conveyancer.

Your conveyancer will manage the legal searches on the property to ensure there aren’t any issues with it.

They will oversee the sales agreement to ensure it is in your best interest, they will manage the transfer of mortgage funds, exchange contracts with the seller or their conveyancer, and set a completion date with the seller or their conveyancer.

This will then bring an end to the conveyancing process, at which point you will receive the keys to the house and move in.

Depending on your circumstances you may want to use a specialist mortgage broker.

Use a Government scheme

Government schemes help you reduce the amount of mortgage deposit you may need to put down, reduce the price of the property or create a structure that increases your mortgage affordability much sooner than it would have been.

Some of these include first-time buyer government schemes whilst others in this list are accessible to you even if you are not a first-time buyer.

Government schemes are not available to you if you are getting a buy to let mortgage.

The Government schemes include:

  • Lifetime ISA– gives you a government bonus of £1,000 if you save a maximum £4,000 a year.
  • Help to buy ISA– gives a maximum bonus us £3,000 if you save the maximum allowed of £12,000. Before you get either you should consider which is better. Lifetime ISA vs Help to buy ISA.
  • Help to buy equity loan– gives you up to 40% as a 5-year interest-free equity loan. You begin to pay interest at 1.75 % after the fifth year and 1% plus RPI for every year thereafter.
  • Shared ownership– You can buy between 25% to 75% of the property initially with a shared ownership mortgage and then buy more using a staircasing mortgage.
  • Armed forces help to buy– similar to the help to buy equity loan but specific for the armed forces personnel giving them an increased chance of acceptance.
  • Rent to buy– This is the right to buy scheme on which this guide is currently discussing. A different marketing name is just used. Watch out for this when shopping to avoid missing out on eligible properties due to confusion.
  • Right to buy– allows you to buy your home at a discount price.
  • Preserved right to buy– same as above.
  • Right to acquire– similar to the above.

Depending on where you live, you may also be able to take advantage of home buying schemes provided by your local council. Example: In Norwich, the local councils provide the Norwich home options scheme.

Get a conveyancer

You will need a conveyancer in order to complete on your mortgage. A conveyancer will assist you with the necessary checks which you need to carry out before completing on your mortgage.

These searches are insisted on by your mortgage lender and you will need a conveyancer to help you with this.

A conveyancer will also help you with paying your stamp duty and claiming any government scheme.

Get a mortgage

By this stage of the buying process, you are now ready to complete on your mortgage. A mortgage broker will help you to get a mortgage.

But before you complete on your mortgage, the mortgage lender will likely insist that you have house insurance in order to ensure you are not carrying on a significant liability in case anything goes wrong with the property before you complete on the mortgage.

This is very true as from the moment you exchange contracts, the property is essentially now yours and if anything should happen to it you will need to pay to repair or fix it out of your own pocket.

Get house insurance

You will need to get house insurance as part of your mortgage contract and you can shop around for house insurance from various house insurance comparison websites. 

Pay your stamp duty

Once you have completed on your mortgage you will have 14 days to pay stamp duty. Your conveyancer will help you do this and get your stamp duty return.

In this brief guide, we discussed the steps to buying a house in the UK and what you should consider when buying a house in the UK.

If you need financial advice and you live in the UK then you could contact the Money Advice service over the phone or via chat for impartial advice.

You can also contact the debt charity “Step Change” if you are in debt and need help.