Take the strain out of buying your home with step-by-step guide to property-purchasing.

What's important to you?
One of the first things you have to do is decide where you want to live and what sort of property you are looking for.
Think about which features are essential to you and which ones you could do without.
A practical way of doing this is to think of every conceivable feature in a property and put them into three lists, 1, 2 and 3 - where 1 is for essential features and 3 is for "nice to have" features.
Deciding these matters in advance will not only help you rate houses when viewing, but also help put your ideals into perspective when you come to make the big decision.

How much can you afford?
Think about what you can afford. Remember to take into account the other costs you will incur apart from a mortgages loan, ie the deposit on your new home, the cost of any surveys, your solicitor's fees, stamp duty as well as your normal outgoings.
If it is a first home you may need to buy a lot of furniture and kitchen appliances at once. Also be realistic about your outgoings: it is easy to underrate how important a holiday is to you!

Use our monthly repayments calculator
   to see how you'd have to pay each month to pay off your mortgage.

Seek a mortgage
Arrange a meeting with a mortgage broker or financial advisor. Discuss how much you want to borrow and what your options are.
You should always try to get an agreement in principle before you start searching for your new home, although if the perfect property appears it may be possible to put an offer in and quickly source a mortgage. There are no guarantees with this approach, however.
Read more information on our mortgages guide

Search with commitment
Search directory and register with as many estate agents as possible. If you want to find an estate agent, why not use our estate agents directory.
Try to view at least six properties that match your price, feature and location criteria. Try not to get too emotionally involved with a house until it is definitely yours. With the spectre of gazumping hovering, it can be dispiriting to see your plans come to nothing in the wake of a higher offer.
Also, even when you've found a good property, there is no harm in continuing to look for something else, perhaps something even better.

Location, location, location
Make enquiries at the local police station about the level of crime in the neighbourhood. Find out about the level of council tax and the location and quality of local amenities such as schools and public transport.
The local council office will be able to offer you advice and details on these issues. Ask the estate agent how long the house or flat has been for sale. This may tell you something about the asking price or potential of the property.
If possible try to view places in daylight and at night. If you like a property make at least two visits - and find out what fixtures and fittings will be left by the seller.
Ask about the neighbours. Even hang about the street and get a feel for the local environment for yourself. Can you really imagine yourself living here?

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