If you are looking for a property to buy then you will know it is likely to be one of the largest purchases you will ever make and for that reason it can seem very daunting. However, it does not have to be a long and confusing process, particularly if you buy through a professional and experienced agent.

  1. Decide if buying a home is right for you
  • Although 86% of people in the UK want to own their own home, it’s not always right for everybody all the time
  • There are a number of things you need to think about before setting off on your home hunting quest – not least whether you can actually afford it. To arrange a call from one of our recommended independent financial advisors contact us on 01634 730672.
  1. Decide if you should sell first
  • If you are already a homeowner, decide whether you want to sell your house or flat before you buy. It can be dangerous in a rising market, but there are upsides. In particular, you will be able to pounce quickly when you do find the home of your dreams, and you won’t be trapped in a housing chain
  • If you decide to buy and sell at the same time we can advise you on the steps you can take to make things run more smoothly.
  1. Decide on your budget
  • How much do you want to spend? This might be dependent on how much of a deposit you can get together. See our useful mortgage calculator. 
  1. Get your finances in place
  • If you are a first-time buyer,work out how much of a deposit for the mortgage you can get together. Think about savings, the “bank of mum and dad”, the “bank of Granny and Grandpa” and If you have any savings on long term deposit that you plan to use, cash them in.
  • If you are selling your property in order to purchase a new one, get a valuation in order to see how much you would get if you put your current home on the market and how much equity you could use towards the next purchase.
  • Decide what sort of mortgage you want.
  • While you can’t get a mortgage before you buy, you can get a mortgage in principle, which will put you in a stronger position.
  • A mortgage broker can be particularly helpful if you would like advice on mortgages, they are able to search the full range of mortgages available in the market or if you have special circumstances such as being self-employed.
  1. Decide where you want to live
  • If you want to move to a new home close to where you already live, there is little to decide.
  • If you want to move to a different part of town, or across the country, then deciding on the area is more difficult and time consuming.
  • This is a very important decision – get it wrong and you will either be unhappy with where you live or face the costs of moving again. You must do your research thoroughly.
  • You may be considering whether to buy a new build or an existing older or period property.
  1. Choose a specific property
  • Once you know the area you want to live, you should start researching the properties in that area thoroughly, so you really get to know the local market well
  • You then need to contact local estate agents.
  • You need to visit as many properties as possible, and make sure they are no hidden surprises.
  • It’s also important to understand whether the property is freehold or leasehold, and that it is not on a short lease.
  1. Make an offer – and get it accepted
  • Make sure you are in the strongest possible position as a buyer. Having your finances in place will certainly help with this.
  • Decide how much you want to pay, including for fixtures and fittings.
  • Make the offer to the estate agent and seal the deal.
  • Hopefully your offer will be accepted by the seller.
  1. Arrange a mortgage
  • You should ideally have got your finances in place as much as possible before making an offer. If so, you now just need to go back to your mortgage company with the agreed offer and complete the process
  • If you haven’t got your finances in place, you must now scramble to do so as quickly as possible, before the seller loses patience.
  • You will need to get the lender to make you a formal mortgage offer before you can exchange contracts.
  • If buying with a mortgage, it is also a good time to consider getting life insurance advice.
  1. Appoint a solicitor or conveyancer
  • Once you have agreed an offer on your house, you need to get a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal work to transfer ownership of the property to you.  Greenleaf have a panel of recommended solicitors who are able to assist with your purchase.
  • Your mortgage company might require you to go with one that is on their panel, which might make the decision for you, however with our extensive panel we are sure to be able to place your case with an acceptable solicitor.
  • Work out how much conveyancing will cost with our free quotation system.
  • The solicitor or conveyancer will do the searches, such as with the local authority and Environment Agency, to ensure there are not any major problems with the property.  
  1. Decide if you want a survey
  • Your mortgage lender will require a valuation by a surveyor, to ensure that the property is a good enough to lend against. This is not a proper survey, and will only look very superficially at the property, if at all
  • You can usually either get the valuation upgraded to a full survey, or you can commission a separate survey. This should tell you everything you need to know about the property, and alert you to any potential problems you will face once you move in. Unless you are very experienced with property, it is usually worth getting a survey done.
  1. Arrange a deposit
  • Before you can exchange contracts, you need to arrange your deposit for the property to be transferred to your solicitor or conveyancer.
  1. Exchange contracts
  • When you exchange contracts with the seller you become legally committed to buying the property – and they are legally committed to selling it to you.
  • If you pull out after this without due reason, your deposit can be forfeited.
  • You should only exchange contracts after you have received the surveyors report, and any necessary action has been taken.
  • Before you exchange contracts, you need to agree a completion date with the seller.
  • You can only exchange contracts after the solicitor/conveyancer is satisfied with the searches, a formal mortgage offer has been received, and arrangements made for the deposit
  • You need to ensure that you take out buildings insurance for the property from the date of exchange, as you are responsible for it from then on. Indeed, it is usually a condition of the mortgage that you have buildings insurance in place.  
  1. Final arrangements and negotiations
  • You need to make arrangements for the supply of electricity, gas, water and telephone service. Often, it is easiest simply to change the account name for the existing suppliers to the property, rather than change suppliers, which you can do at a later date.
  • The solicitor/conveyancer will inform the land registry that they are in the process of transferring ownership of your property
  • Your solicitor/conveyancer should be liaising with the mortgage company to ensure the money will be ready for completion.
  1. Complete the sale
  • Completion is when you pay for the property and take ownership of it, and takes place at a certain time of day – often midday
  • On the day of completion, the money is transferred, and the deeds of the property are transferred, between each side’s conveyancer
  1. Take possession of your new home
  • The seller must leave the property by the time of completion, and you should then be able to collect the keys, normally from the estate agent
  • You are now free to move in.
  1. Pay stamp duty and settle with the solicitor and conveyancer
  • After completion, your solicitor or conveyancer will send you an account, covering all their costs and disbursements, as well as the purchase price of the house and stamp duty. Please see our handy stamp, duty calculator.
  • Your solicitor or conveyancer will normally pay the stamp duty for you, and ensure that the change of ownership is registered with the land registry.


If you require any advice or assistance the sales team at Greenleaf are on hand to answer any questions you may have.