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10 essential steps when buying a home

You’ve been searching, viewing and considering properties for months and the day has finally come. Now the offer you have made on a house has been accepted, what next?

10 essential steps when buying a home

Congratulations – the searching, house viewings and big decisions have paid off and your offer on the house of your dreams has been accepted. Although it may seem like all the hard work is over, you are still at the early stages of the property purchase and able to pull out of buying the house without facing a financial penalty should you change your mind.

Additionally, the seller of the property can still decide to take a higher offer from somebody else, or choose to not move at all.

Before the property is legally yours there are still several steps to go through in your property transaction.

1.    Ask the estate agent to take it off the market

Although this is something that many estate agents will do once an offer has been accepted, it is worth asking to make sure that the house is taken off the market as soon as possible. Doing this reduces the possibility of another home buyer visiting the property and making a higher offer.

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2.    Appoint a conveyancing solicitor

It is your conveyancing solicitor that will complete the legal aspect of your move, therefore it is important that you appoint a professional and reputable solicitor that is aware of the checks and searches relevant to your property.

All conveyancing solicitors partnered with reallymoving.com are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Council of Licensed Conveyancers, so when you receive your quotes you will be confident that the conveyancer undertaking your transaction is professional and experienced.

3.    Complete mortgage application

For the majority of home buyers, a mortgage will be needed to fund the house purchase. Once your offer has been accepted you will need to fill in a mortgage application form and provide your lender with the necessary documentation.

The documentation they will require includes:

  • Proof of ID

  • Proof of address

  • Proof of earnings

  • Recent bank statements.

To facilitate the early stages of your move, it will help to have already researched the mortgage you’ll be getting and have an agreement in principle from the lender, as it’s likely the estate agent will want to know details of how you will finance the purchase before they put your offer forward to the vendor.

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4.    Organise an independent survey from a RICS surveyor

Although your mortgage lender will be organising a mortgage valuation survey for the property, it is important to commission an independent survey from a RICS Chartered Surveyor for a detailed report on your potential new home.

The mortgage valuation is conducted for the benefit of the lender to ensure the property is worth what is being paid for it and thus the security of the mortgage. A house survey is performed by a RICS Chartered Surveyor for the home buyer’s best interests. It will include an in-depth, impartial account of the structural condition of the property that will assist with your decision about whether to proceed with the purchase.

You can find out more information about why you should not rely exclusively on your mortgage valuation here.

5.    Get quotes for a removal company

You won’t have an exact move date to give them yet, but it is worth getting in contact early with a removal company so you can ensure there is time for a pre-move survey to assess the volume of your belongings. You will also be able to discuss the requirements of your move and whether there are any parking restrictions at either address.

To find the best price for your removal, you can compare quotes from Ombudsman-regulated, professional removal companies.

6.    Exchange contracts and pay deposit

Once your mortgage has been approved and the searches have been completed by your conveyancing solicitor you will now be able to sign and exchange contracts which legally commits you to the purchase of the property. You will then be asked to pay the deposit, which is usually 10% of the property’s value. Through the government’s Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee scheme it can, however, be reduced to 5%.

At this stage of the transaction you can no longer pull out without losing your deposit and further costs that were incurred.

7.    Confirm date of completion and date of move

The contracts have been exchanged and the deposit has been paid, you can now agree a completion date.

On the day of completion the vendors will have to vacate the property, so once you have this date you will be able to organise a day for you to move into the property. You will then be able to confirm the date and the details of your move with your removal company.

Although the time between exchange of contracts and completion can be anything from days to months, it is usually between 5 and 20 working days.

8.    Completion

At the stage of completion the mortgage lender releases the funds for the cost of the property and ownership of the house is transferred from the vendor to the buyer.

The house is now legally yours.

9.    Pick up keys

Following completion, you can now pick up the keys to your new home from the vendor’s estate agent. It is best to organise a date with the estate agent a couple of weeks in advanced, to ensure both parties keep a convenient time free.

It is recommended, if possible, to pick up the keys before the moving date to reduce the amount of time your removal company will be waiting at either property.

10.    Move in

Congratulations – you’re in! Except for some unpacking, but this can be done at a leisurely pace, all that is left to do is to relax and enjoy your new home.

The hard work is now finally over.

Last Updated: September 2017

Comments (10)

  • sandra ottway

    posted on 29 Jun 2015

    thanks, it was really useful, we are at stage 6 (exchange contracts) im so excited

    Jamie Meredith

    posted on 17 Jun 2016

    This was a great read, our offer has just been accepted so it was nice to see the steps left. Getting very excited!!! :)

    Kenny philip

    posted on 25 Aug 2016

    Easy steps to understand and very helpful. Thanks kenny

    mrs P

    posted on 31 Jan 2017

    Oh thank God you explained that to me. The estate agent's pushing for solicitors next day post accepting the offer making my life very stressful. Now I'm more confident as I know how to go about it ! Thank you


    posted on 16 Jul 2017

    Excellent guide, was totally lost as a first time buyer, at stage 1 sadly .. awaiting sellers feedback on offer


    posted on 18 Aug 2017

    We made an offer which was accepted but the vendors won't take it off the market despite us asking. Is this ok? Is there no rule estate agents have to follow regarding this?

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Lindsey, 
    Unfortunately the estate agents are not obliged to take it off the market, but this is down to the seller. If your offer is 'accepted' but the property still looks like it's on the market, your seller may think they can get a higher price further down the line, which will leave you 'gazumped'.
    This would be a particular shame if you then spend money on surveys etc, only to lose out on the property. Be upfront with the agents, ask why it's still up, and consider if your offer was significantly below the asking price, how much you're willing to fight for the property. If it had been for sale for quite a while, you can consider whether you want to threaten withdrawing your offer unless the property is taken off the market, but this can be risky.
    Good luck,
    The reallymoving team


    posted on 6 Sep 2017

    We are the seller and had accepted an offer OVER TWO MONTHS AGO. However, our buyer is unwilling to commence the conveyancing process and has, despite several requests, not even given us her solicitors contact details deeming it impossible to even start the ball rolling! We originally had a mutual sales agreement whereby she would pay a small deposit in order to 'hold' the property as sold, however she has twice requested this deposit be delayed - there has been no contact now for over 3 weeks, she is refusing to answer our telephone calls or reply to our emails, this silent treatment is extremely frustrating. We would like to think that if she has now decided against the purchase she would at least let us know out of common courtesy. She does seem quite keen to buy the property, but keeps moving the goal posts and in effect, delaying the completion by some margin. Our property is still on the open market, but we have had very little other interest apart from this 'buyer' - what can we do to encourage her get the process moving? We are getting desperate!

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Julie,

    Sorry that this sounds like such a stressful situation. Whilst the potential buyer has technically had the offer accepted, if she has not paid the 'holding' deposit that you agreed on after two months, it does not seem that she's serious about the offer. You could say that you're going to put the property back on the market unless the deposit is paid, and at least that way you may get a definitive answer. It may be worth considering if you want to continue with a buyer who has drawn out the process and is not responding to your calls and emails. You would be wise to chat to a conveyancing solicitor to get an expert assessment of the situation and where to go next.
    Best of luck, 


    posted on 3 Oct 2017

    Really useful guide! Frustratingly waiting to see whether our offer has been accepted, we were meant to find out but now the estate agents want us to come in and talk about mortgage! Does this mean they just want to check we have the money/can borrow the money? I hope it means we are in a good position or else why would they bother!

    Reallymoving response

    It seems the estate agents are eager to move on to the next stage, and be sure that everything is in order if/when a purchase goes ahead. As you say, hopefully that's a good sign.
    Best of luck Rebecca!


    posted on 22 Oct 2017

    Very good read. I’ve just got the offer today so really happy after 6 months and previous company cancelled the application twice. Can’t wait now!!


    posted on 13 Nov 2017

    Found this article really useful, especially for fist time buyers like myself to follow steps. I'm now on stage 7 and couldn't be happier. Thanks for posting it.

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