14 July 2014

House buying stress-busters

It’s well known that buying a house is one of life’s most stressful events. What with mortgage applications, dealing with solicitors and packing up all your belongings, there’s a lot to think about.

These top tips might help the house-buying process run a little more smoothly for you, ensuring you get settled in your new abode as easily as possible.

Sort your mortgage in advance

Before you begin looking for a house, you need to find out how much you can borrow. Once you’ve found a suitable mortgage deal you should get a mortgage Decision in Principle (DIP) agreement from your lender to show how much they’re willing to lend you. There are no guarantees with this, as it’s subject to affordability and credit checks, but at least there’s less chance of a property offer falling through with this in place. You will also be in a much stronger negotiating position.

Take a look at Nationwide's mortgage range to see if we can help.

Get the estate agent on side

Estate agents act on behalf of the seller, so to increase your chances of getting your ideal property, they need to know you’re a serious buyer. Introduce yourself, always be polite in your dealings with them and tell them your mortgage has been agreed in principle. Keep in regular contact with them so you’ll be top of their list if a suitable property comes on to the market. Be clear on what you’re looking for in a home so they don’t send you on visits to inappropriate properties. When they do organise viewings, be sure to turn up on time.

Don’t be rushed into putting in an offer

Estate agents would have you believe there are lots of other people interested in the property you have your eye on, making you feel pressured into putting an offer in quickly. But take your time to consider whether the house really is right for you because it’s one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make. Remember, if you are buying a house in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, even if you do put in an offer and it’s accepted, you can still back out if you change your mind. Your offer is not legally binding until contracts are exchanged. This is slightly different if you are buying property in Scotland, see Step 8 of our First Time Buyer guide for more information.

Get a survey carried out

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland it is the buyer’s responsibility to have a survey carried out. This avoids stress further down the line. As part of your mortgage agreement, you must have a valuation report, but this is not enough if you want to know about any potential problems the property has, such as subsidence or damp. A homebuyer’s report or full structural survey will give you a more detailed account. If there are any serious defects, you can walk away or negotiate a lower price with the vendor.

In Scotland, things work slightly differently. The seller will arrange a Home Report before putting their property on the market, which contains three documents; a Single Survey, containing an assessment by a surveyor, an Energy Report and a Property Questionnaire, which contains information from the current owner.

Choose a good solicitor

The legal process involved in buying a house is very complex, so it’s important to find a solicitor who is an expert in conveyancing and someone you can trust. A good solicitor will draw up and explain contracts clearly, deal with the land registry and manage stamp duty charges. Don’t be tempted to cut corners and go for the cheapest option as you may get a poor service. Look for a solicitor who is not overworked or inexperienced as this could mean important details are missed. Appoint one as soon as possible in the home-buying process so they will be ready to set the wheels in motion as soon as you’ve had an offer accepted. 

See our buying and owning a property guides for more information.


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