Getting started

Understanding mortgages

How much can I borrow?

Getting a Decision in Principle

Finding a property and making an offer

What's in this section?

Leasehold or Freehold

The differences between the two property types.

Seeing what's about

Finding the right property.

Making an offer

Things you'll need to consider when making an offer.

Solicitors and surveys

The role of a solicitor and survey.

Insurance

Why it's important to take out insurance to protect your home.

Leasehold and freehold

It’s really important when looking around properties to know if they’re ‘freehold’ or ‘leasehold’ as this may impact your decision on finding the home that’s right for you. If you’re unsure, check the property details or ask the estate agent or seller.  Buying in Scotland? You'll own your home and property outright, the same as freehold.

Leasehold

This is when you have the right to use the property for a set period of time, often in return for paying ground rent to the freeholder. The property reverts to the freeholder at the expiry of the lease term, so you won’t own anything when the lease ends.

Freehold

This is when you buy the property and the land it’s built on. There’s no ground rent to pay, plus you’ll own the land and property for an unlimited time.

Before viewing any properties it’s a good idea to ask yourself what you really need. Do you want somewhere in town? Or more rural? What about local schools? Where’s the nearest shop? How many rooms do you need?  Do you want off-street parking?

Where to look for properties

  • Estate agents and property websites
  • Local newspapers’ property pages
  • ‘For sale’ boards in the area you like
  • Property developers active in the area
  • Auctions

Useful links 

These websites may help with your search for a new home:

Making an offer in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Once you have a Decision in Principle and you've found a place you like, you can make an offer. Your Decision in Principle will show the seller or estate agent that we'd be prepared to lend to you, subject to your full mortgage application and underwriting. Here are a few more things to keep in mind:

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

All sellers across the UK are required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate, which shows how much energy a building uses. It can help you reduce your energy bills and live more sustainably by making your home more energy efficient. You'd need a Predicted Energy Assessment (PEA) for a new build home.

The deposit for the seller

Sometimes you'll be asked to pay a deposit to the seller or estate agent to show your intention or commitment to buy the property. This deposit normally applies to New Build Schemes and ranges from £500 to £1,000. It's usually repayable should the sale fail. Remember, this is not the same as your mortgage deposit.

Making an offer in Scotland

The property market in Scotland works very differently to the property system in the rest of the UK. If you'd like to make an offer on a property in Scotland, here are some of the things you'll need to consider:

The role of the solicitor

In Scotland your solicitor plays a greater part in buying homes than in the rest of the UK. If you want to buy a house in Scotland, you'll need to use a Scottish solicitor. 

Your solicitor will submit your offer to the seller’s solicitor or estate agent and should include the price you want to pay and when you'd like to move in. 

This is followed by written negotiation, conducted by the solicitors. When all conditions are agreed by both parties, the concluded missive is then a binding contract. Neither side can withdraw without having to pay compensation.


Surveys

The Single Survey may be sufficient to secure a mortgage. However, if the property is older or the survey raises concerns you might want to get a Structural Survey done.

The Home Report

In Scotland a seller must have a Home Report pack prepared. This consists of three documents:

  • a Property Questionnaire
  • an Energy Report
  • a Single Survey

The Property Questionnaire is completed by the seller of the home. It contains information about the home, such as Council Tax banding, factoring arrangements and any changes made to the home. The Energy Report shows the home’s energy efficiency rating, assesses its environmental impact and recommends improvements. The Single Survey contains an assessment by a surveyor, a valuation and an accessibility audit.

Builder's deposit and reservation fee

If you're buying a new build property, you'll usually be asked to pay the builder a reservation fee of £500-£1,000 to show your intention or commitment to buy. Once this is agreed, you'll usually need to pay a deposit of 5%-10% of the purchase price.  This deposit is usually non-refundable should the sale not go through.  Remember, this is not the same as your mortgage deposit.

Conveyancers

Conveyancers handle all the legal aspects of buying a home (known as conveyancing). Conveyancing services include transferring the title of a property from the seller to the buyer. Your conveyancer will also run searches, for example to find if there are any changes or development planned that could affect the property. You can use our Nationwide conveyancing service, or you can find a conveyancer by contacting the Law Society or the Council of Licensed Conveyancers. Remember to get a quote for conveyancing first. 

During your mortgage application, you’ll be asked to either provide your conveyancer's details, or to choose Nationwide’s conveyancing service.

Survey options

When you buy a home, we need to do a valuation before we can complete your mortgage. This is to ensure the property you want to buy is worth the asking price. We'll request a standard valuation, but if you'd like to add on any other home surveys, you'll need to request these yourself during the mortgage application process.  

A standard valuation from Nationwide is free, but it doesn't give you details about the overall condition of the property though. For that, you’ll need a HomeBuyers Report or Structural Survey. 

HomeBuyers Report

  • This survey is usually for properties in reasonable condition and up to 150 years old.
  • It includes a check for major faults and gives approximate repair costs.
  • It includes a property value estimation.

Structural survey

  • The most comprehensive survey type (also known as a ‘building survey’).
  • It won’t value your property – you’ll still need a valuation survey for that.
  • Usually for older, unusual, or listed properties with extensions or renovations.
  • Includes thorough checks for faults (major and minor), estimated repair costs, and any follow-up, guaranteeing the property with the ability to challenge back from a legal perspective.

Insuring your mortgage and home

Regardless of the mortgage you choose, you'll also need insurance to protect your first home and everything in it. It's also really important to think about how you’d keep up your monthly mortgage payments if your circumstances changed. For example, if you or anyone else responsible for making payments became ill, lost a job or died.

There are a number of insurance products available to protect you, your family and your new home.

Home insurance

Buildings insurance:
Buildings insurance is compulsory and covers you financially for any insured risks to your home’s structure caused by things like fire, flood or storm. Before signing on the dotted line, always check carefully what the policy costs, what it protects you from, what’s covered, and how much it will pay out in the event of damage.

Contents insurance:
Contents insurance is optional and covers the cost of having to replace the contents of your home if they’re damaged or stolen. You can get cover for contents, including TVs, jewellery, furnishings, laptops and even precious antiques or art. You may even be able to extend cover for things you take out of the home such as phones, cameras, bikes etc.

Combined insurance:
It is possible to buy these policies either independently or combined under one policy. Combined policies may offer better value as many insurers offer healthy discounts when buying buildings and contents cover together.




 

Protection insurance

Life Insurance:
There are two major types of life insurance, as well as some variations you could consider. Basically, they both aim to pay out a lump sum if you die during the policy term:
Level – this type of policy is designed to pay out the original amount you chose to cover, no matter when you died during the policy term.
Decreasing – this is a policy where the amount that would be paid out gradually goes down as the policy continues. It’s designed to work alongside a repayment mortgage, so the amount of payout goes down roughly in line with your shrinking mortgage debt.

Critical illness:
This is available on its own or as an addition to straightforward life insurance. It means that if you’re diagnosed with one of the critical illnesses defined in your policy, you’ll receive a cash lump sum just as you would if you died under the life insurance plan.

Income protection:
Income Protection is designed to support you financially if you're unable to work due to an illness or injury. Before you take out a policy, you’ll need to think about how much income you’d want to replace, and how long you could wait before the policy started to pay out. State benefits and employer sick pay schemes can be quite complex, so most people tend to take advice from an expert before taking out this sort of cover.

YOUR MORTGAGE IS SECURED ON YOUR HOME. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DON'T KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE.

Applying for a mortgage

Completion and moving in