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Your Questions Answered: What's the process for buying a home?

Having an understanding of what happens throughout the mortgage process can make purchasing your first home a less stressful experience.

The process starts with an appointment with one of our advisers. This gives you time to discuss what kind of mortgage you'd like, the deposit that you have available and the whether a mortgage is the right option for you.

Once you've had your initial appointment, your adviser will need a few days to process the agreement in principle. This is where they identify a suitable lender and approach them to see if they would be willing to lend the amount to you that you require.

Once you have an agreement in principle, you're able to start looking at houses in the knowledge that you are able to buy one. This puts you in a good position when house hunting as you have a clear idea of your price range and, when you speak to the estate agent, it shows that you're in a position to purchase. If you'd like us to act on your behalf when placing an offer, or negotiating a price, just ask your adviser and they'll be happy to approach the agent for you.

After your offer has been accepted, your adviser will look to formally apply for the mortgage on your behalf. Before they do this, they will do a final check of the mortgages on the market to ensure that the deal they proposed to you initially is still the most suitable and competitive. Once you have provided us with confirmation that you're happy for us to proceed, your adviser will fully complete the application for you.

If you're using a scheme, like the Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee scheme, your adviser is able to process the paperwork for this on your behalf too. Simply let them know if you'd like their help with this.

Once we've got your mortgage offer formally agreed, the focus switches to the legal process. During this time you will hear a little less from us, as the process is in your solicitor's hands. However we are in regular contact with them and will keep you updated.

During the legal process, you may receive a number of documents from your solicitor, if you would like us to liaise with them on your behalf we're more than happy to do so. Simply, send over any paperwork that they send you and we'll work on processing this for you. Also, please don't ever feel worried about calling or emailing us to talk through a document - our team work through this kind of paperwork on a daily basis and are happy to explain (to the best of our ability) anything that you're unsure about.

It may feel like things have slowed down at this point, but there's a lot of work going on in the background. Your solicitors will be reviewing your mortgage offer, issuing your mortgage deed, requesting local searches (so that there are no nasty surprises like planning permission for a road through your garden) and liaising with your vendor's solicitor to respond to any enquiries that arise.

At this point, you may wish to instruct a survey on the property that you're purchasing, this can be arranged by your adviser. Although it isn't a legal requirement, instructing a survey can give you a better idea about the property that you're purchasing. There are a number of types of surveys that you can opt for, with a common choice being a Home Buyer's Report. This is completed by a chartered surveyor, who compiles an in depth report of the property that you're purchasing, giving an overview of any issues, like damp, that they may find. You're then able, if you wish, to go back to your solicitor and raise these findings as queries for your vendor's solicitor.

Whilst the legal process is happening, which can take a number of weeks, your adviser will be in touch to discuss suitable protection/insurance. We discuss protection at this time as it is important to have a plan as to how mortgage payments could be made, should you be ill or one of the people contributing to the mortgage pass away. Your adviser will likely discuss Life & Critical Illness cover and Income Protection, to name a few. You can read more about these different insurances here. (link to the different types of insurances articles)

Your adviser will also discuss Buildings and Contents insurance with you too. Most Lenders require at least Buildings Insurance in place for completion, although Contents cover will not be a mandatory requirement. Your solicitor will likely ask for confirmation that you have this insurance as you near completion.

Once your solicitors have everything that they need they will discuss a date for the exchange of contracts, which is when the sale becomes legally binding. Exchange will happen when everyone in your chain (the people selling and purchasing houses above your vendor) are ready to go ahead.

The only step left after this is completion, when you actually purchase your home. Your solicitor will set a date for completion and all being well, will call you on that day to inform you that the sale has gone through and you can collect the keys. The completion date is subject to change as the whole chain is required to agree on this date. However your solicitor will keep you informed of any changes.

This is a general overview of the house buying process for a first time buyer in England & Wales but it must be noted that every house purchase is unique, so this information is to be used as an overview only.

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