If you’ve considered buying a house, or you’re already looking into the process of purchasing your first home, there are a lot of things to consider.

While house-hunting can be an exciting time for any individual, couple or family, there can also be a great deal of stress involved; so it’s all about how you handle the process to ensure you get all the good and less of the bad.

Wondering how exactly to buy a house? Read on to get a little more insight into the purchasing process, what exactly you need, and how it all happens.

Buying a house: the basics

Before you even look at online estate agents or start scouring the streets for ‘for sale’ signs, the first thing you need to do when purchasing a house is to sit down and look at your finances. The majority of homes in the UK are bought on a mortgage, so it’s essential to understand how much you can borrow for your dream home, in addition to what fees are required up-front.

Once you’ve got a better idea of where you are money-wise, the next step is to begin hunting for the ideal home. While it may take time and investment – more on that later – this can also be a highly rewarding process, especially when you find that perfect property. When you’ve set eyes on the home of your dreams, all there is to do is make an offer. Once accepted, you can be well on your way to new home bliss.

When your mortgage is confirmed, and the money is all sorted, all there is to do is to move in; but we’re sure you have quite a few questions before you reach that stage. Now we’ve covered the basics you need to know, here are some of the most commonly asked questions about house buying to help you get clued-in and search-ready:

How long does it take to buy a house?

When you’re at the point that you’ve decided buying a house is your next best move, you’re probably itching to get the process going and get that home purchased ASAP. But in fact, according to money saving expert, the average time between that first decision to purchase and making that offer can be between 6 weeks to 8 whole months.

Following that offer being made, it can then be anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks until the property is ready for exchange; this can vary according to surveys, chains and a variety of different factors. Once that whole process is completed, it’s just another 4 weeks to wait at most until you can set your moving date, carrying the selling process through to completion.

What deposit do I need to buy a house?

Based on the way the market is at the moment, the usual amount you’ll need to have set aside for a deposit is at least 5%. But if you’re in a position to put down a more significant amount, this is highly recommended to reduce the overall mortgage repayments you’ll have to make, in addition to allowing you access to better mortgage deals in many cases. However, many mortgages will have an option that covers 95% of the value of the property, if no more money is available.

There are other reasons why you may choose to increase your deposit to 10 or 15%, including less risk involved in the process of owning your home, such as more protection from negative equity. All mortgage lenders will also carry out a check of affordability before offering you a mortgage, and a larger deposit will be a plus for this process. A mortgage deposit calculator will be able to give you a more accurate deposit requirement.

What are the warning signs when buying a house?

While it can be nice to think that everyone involved in the sales processes of houses is 100% honest and genuine, it’s important to have your eyes open when it comes to potential issues when purchasing a home. Being unable to see the whole house on viewing, whether you are only provided photos or not allowed access to certain areas, is a red flag that the property could fail a future survey, resulting in you paying more for the house than it is worth.

It’s also important to note that once you’ve placed an offer on a home, that offer is not legally binding until contracts are exchanged. Before that point, the sale may be at risk of Gazumping, in which the seller offers the property to someone else for a higher rate, or Gazanging, in which the property owner chooses to withdraw from selling to make more money from the property at a later date. Though these are rare, it’s essential to watch out for them – as well as to ask for a property to be taken off the market as a condition of your offer.

What happens if I buy a house internationally?

If you’re an international buyer looking to purchase a home, there are additional factors to be considered as a part of the sales process. Firstly, money advice service advises being aware of the risks involved in purchasing property internationally, including checking the exchange rates, confirming tax and ensuring all paperwork is legitimate.

Unlike mortgages within the UK, international mortgages can fluctuate far more significantly; up to 20%, which your lender must advise you of. It’s also important to speak to an independent lawyer to ensure you’re meeting all the property law requirements of the home you’d like to purchase. The lawyer of your choice should have a strong understanding of the law in both countries, as well as an understanding of the local language.

Beyond these factors, the process for the purchase of properties abroad is very similar to the information stated above, though the overall times and requirements may vary depending on specific local conditions.

Whether you’re looking to purchase a local property or you’re considering a dream home abroad, it’s important to know the facts from day one – both to avoid any nasty surprises, and to ensure you have all the information needed to make the process as smooth as possible. Purchasing a home is an exciting time – so don’t get bogged down with all the bad stuff, and do it right the first time.

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