First Time Buyers guide Before you begin
You will need to save some form of deposit to begin with (100% products have all but disappeared due to the credit crunch unless you have a right to buy with a local council or have a guarantor with equity in another property) as well as enough money to cover other initial outlays for things like furniture and legal fees.
It's also good to reduce as far as possible your other borrowings and polish up your credit profile in the months prior to taking the plunge.
It can be useful to speak to a mortgage advisor initially and find out how much you may be able to borrow, and the likely rate.
Often a loan can be agreed in principal giving you a maximum budget to work from.
This is also the time to do a thorough assessment of the area you want to buy in, considering aspects like travelling expenses in your budget.
Making an offer
Once a property has been selected and you decide to make an offer, the formal process of the mortgage application can begin.
Formal offers will normally need to be drafted by a Solicitor or Licensed Conveyancer whom you appoint to check the properties title and to arrange contracts, they will also conduct searches on the property that check for other important factors like planning permissions.
The Solicitor or Conveyancer may need to be on a panel approved by the lender and the same goes for the surveyor that will conduct the property valuation so it's important to check before you arrange either that they will be accepted.
Once an offer is accepted you will need to arrange the mortgage, insurance and any protection products.
Draft contracts will be exchanged by your solicitors pending checks on title and other searches.
The lender will require a basic valuation for mortgage purposes, this is solely for the lenders benefit and should you wish to check the property structurally or electrically for example a more thorough survey may be required but this can usually be arranged via the same surveyor.
Once the lender has received a satisfactory valuation and evidence to support the application if they are happy to lend they will produce a mortgage offer and you can progress to exchange of contracts.
Exchange of Contracts
It's at this point that the sale becomes legally binding.
Before you exchange the Solicitor will send you a pre-contract report and a copy of the registered title.
If you are happy to proceed at this point the contracts are signed, exchanged and your deposit paid to the vendor.
Your buildings insurance (which is usually a requirement of your mortgage contract) becomes your legal responsibility from the date of exchange of contracts so you need to have cover in place for this date.
After this the final arrangements will be made for the mortgage completion including transfer of funds and the "transfer deed", exchange of keys and the payment of any stamp duty land tax that may be owed.