Home | House Buying Checklist

It's only about a month until we complete the journey of buying our first home. I haven't had much to say over the last couple of months about our journey to becoming first time buyers and it's because there genuinely hasn't been much to report on. Since getting our offer accepted, the only things we've been up to is getting things together like homeware, quotes for the bills and window shopping for furniture. But as the moving date is coming to a close, I thought it would be the perfect time to make a checklist of all the things you may need to do, have and consider when you buy a house.
As a disclaimer: I'd just like to say that everything I mention in this post is all I know from experience. I am in no way an expert in property buying, I am a first time buyer and I just hope that my posts will support those buying a home for the first time too!

From the day your offer is accepted on a home, or even the few days before, you're going to need to get started on your checklist. It seems so simple at first but there's a lot we could have forgotten about if someone like our solicitor or mortgage adviser didn't remind us. There are a good few checklists out there on money saving websites that you can have a look at, but even so, I thought I would make my own to share with you! There's a bunch of stuff you need to think about and things you never thought you'd have to think of but, you do. It's a lot to take in when you put it altogether, but here it is in the simplest way I can put it. Sorry it's lengthy too - but there is a lot to do!

  • Mortgage In Principle - One of the very first things we did is see how much we could borrow. With a mortgage in principle, we were able to refine our property search and see what we could afford and where. Having a mortgage in principle means that if you find a place you like and you want to put an offer in, you can without worrying about if you can afford it. Because you'll know if you can or not already.
  • Property Search - We searched for properties on the Right Move app. We looked on Purple Bricks and some other local property search apps but Right Move was the best one for us. It had a lot of places advertised and we got on well with the search properties.You need to find the right way to property search for yourselves, whether it's an app or going straight into the estate agents themselves. Doing this means you have more of a chance of finding the right place for you.
  • Viewing - When we found a few properties we liked, we called up the estate agents and booked them all in for the same day. We'd found an area we liked, we knew what we wanted and we knew we could afford the homes there too. Once we had a few properties to look at, we spent the day scoping the area, seeing the houses and discussing them together. At the end of the day we spent some time at a local pub comparing the two we liked most and making our decision. If you're wondering what to look for when viewing, I wrote this post all about what you might want to ask when you're viewing.
  • Make an Offer - On the day we viewed the property, we made an offer on the place we liked the most. It was the very end of the day on a Saturday so our offer would be put forward to the vendors the very first thing Monday morning. Putting an offer in is tricky business, you don't know if it will be accepted, especially if you're offering less than asking price. You might need to bargain a little bit but this works only in the right circumstances. One thing we were sure to do was to ask them to verbally agree to take the house off the market if they accepted our offer so we knew we couldn't be outbid on our offer.
  • Mortgage Advisor - We went back and forth on the idea of getting a mortgage advisor but upon advice from other home owners we knew, we were recommended a company who offered their services free as they are paid by the companies who offer the mortgages. This meant we didn't have to worry about paying out for one and we didn't have the stress of applying for a mortgage without help. With our mortgage advisor, finding the right mortgage for us made the process pretty simple and pretty stress-free. To this day, we both haven't felt stressed about buying our house once.
  • Stamp Duty - Check if you have to pay stamp duty. If you're first time buyer and buying a home under £300k then you don't pay stamp duty. You may fall under this bracket and not have to worry about it, but if you don't then you have to check how much it is. If we were to buy a new place after this we'd have to think about stamp duty because we're already on the property ladder. 
  • Fees - Another thing to check when you get your mortgage paperwork is what fees you may need to pay. Some mortgages will allow you to pay these fees within the mortgage payment but some won't. Check what you may have to pay up front before you accept anything.
  • Mortgage Accepted - Once you've checked paperwork and signed it all up, your mortgage will (hopefully) be accepted and you can start thinking about the next steps. Make sure you read EVERYTHING with your mortgage paperwork. You don't want to be caught out with anything when you buy a place. Having your mortgage accepted means you can start moving onto the other important stuff.
  • Solicitor - Find a good solicitor. Your solicitor is going to help you with all the (scary) legal stuff. This will be everything from searches on you and the houses to agreeing everything and paying up the deposit. Our solicitor has been amazing and I think they do a fantastic job of ensuring your house buying process is as simple, clear and stress-free as possible. They do a lot of work so don't just go for the cheapest one. Shop around and check reviews from others. See who is local to you and ask other home owners who they used and what their experiences were like. You need the right solicitor, especially when you're spending so much money.
  • Building Survey - This is one of those things that you just have to do to make sure you know what you're in for. If you don't get your future home surveyed you may fall into major problems when you move in. You need to know if the building is structurally sound and if there are any major red flags that could sway your decision to buy. A detailed survey will show you anything and everything you need to know from top to bottom whether it is the roof, insulation, windows, skirting or even things like paint jobs. It ensures nothing is a secret and shows you things you can't see in a viewing. It helps you decide to continue or to stop the process of purchasing and consider any future works it may need. It can be expensive too and so like a solicitor, shop around and find one you're going to be happy with.
  • Exchange - This is about the stage we're at now. We're at the time of signing and exchanging and hopefully it all goes to plan! There's a lot of rules around signing, exchanging, completion and all that and I'm still a bit confused by it all but once I know more I'll edit this section of the post! All I know is there's rules about moving dates, timings and all sorts.
  • Home Insurance - Before you even move in you need to make sure you have home insurance. This is so important and you need to make sure you're covered for any loss, damages or anything like that from the day you exchange and the house is yours. This is something we're looking into at the moment and getting quotes for. Remember with contents insurance you need to think about what it would cost to replace absolutely everything in your home from the electronics and jewellery to your clothes and books. 
  • Life Insurance - This one is a bit morbid but unfortunately something you need to think about. At the moment we're looking at life insurance and what we need to consider. You have a lot to think about with life insurance because you have to take into consideration dependants, how long it'll take to pay off your mortgage and  all sorts. This is something we're looking into now so I'm not 100% with the details on this one but you should research this as best as you can because this one is extremely important. 
  • Furnishing & Appliances - Obviously if you're a first time buyer you're going to be thinking about your furnishings like sofas, dining tables and beds and appliances such as fridge freezers and washing machines. When buying your first place, a lot of the time you'll be buying things brand new. This is one of the fun bits. I've enjoyed going to shops like IKEA, Curry's and Homesense to start thinking about the furnishings and appliances we need. We're at the stage where we need to think about buying these so that they can be delivered when we move in.
  • Gas, Electric, Water - We've started looking at companies and quotes to get an idea of which providers we'd like to go with when we finally move in. You're going to want your best quotes for gas, electric and water to make sure you're getting a good deal. If you need help, price comparison sites are really helpful for this.
  • Council Tax & TV Licence - There are so many bills you're going to have when you own a home and on top of that these two need to come into your finances. You will always need to pay council tax and TV licence. Check which band you'll be in for council tax and always make sure you have TV licence paid for.
  • Broadband, TV & Phone - For us, TV isn't going to be that important and so we'll probably stick with freeview for a bit. We have Netflix and we're not really TV watchers to be honest. For us, I think broadband is more important because I spend a lot of time on the computer and we both need it for work. If we really need to, we'll get a broadband and landline deal but we're not too bothered about getting a landline because we both have mobiles we use otherwise.
  • New Locks - The day you move in, you should most definitely change your locks. You want to be 100% sure that you're the only ones with the keys to the house and this is the best and the only way to do so. If you're handy with doors you could probably do this yourself but you might like to get someone in to do this job instead!

So, there we go. That's my checklist. I'm sorry if I've missed anything off but if I have, let me know in the comments and I can add it in later! I hope that if you're buying a home and need a checklist, this one is helpful. We're so close to moving in it's unbelievable! I'm so excited and I can't wait for this new chapter in our life to begin!

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