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Buying a home privately

Updated: 22 Oct 2014
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There can be a lot of hidden expenses when you buy a house
A woman moving out of a sold property
Buying your own home is one of the biggest commitments you can make. You need to think it through carefully and plan well in advance.

What is the best way to look for a house?

First of all you should decide upon your ideal location and calculate the price range you feel you can afford. At this stage you should remember to take into account the hidden costs of buying a property. These include:
  • estate agents fees if you are also selling a property
  • solicitors fees
  • valuation fees
  • removal costs.
You should also consider whether your furniture would be suitable for your new home, as replacement can be expensive.
Tour the areas you have chosen, covering small areas at a time so that you can get to know the houses and their prices. This will help you compare different properties.
Keep an eye on the property ads in your local press and contact the relevant estate agents. They will usually be happy to post out a regular list of property on their books.

What do I do once I have found a house I like?

The first thing to remember is not to sign anything at such an early stage. View the property at different times of the day. An area that appears to be quiet at certain times may suffer from excessive traffic noise at others.
You should negotiate a price with the seller or their agent, then apply for a mortgage from a financial institution.
There any many different mortgages available at present. The amount you can borrow will depend on your income and the value of the property. Deposits are not always necessary but it is likely that a 100% mortgage will have a higher interest rate.

How do I make sure there is nothing wrong with the property?

Most lenders will arrange a valuation inspection. We would strongly advise, however, that you arrange for a detailed survey of the property you are hoping to buy, before you commit yourself.  
This will cost more than a valuation inspection, but it will identify any defects and could save you money. You may be able to negotiate a reduction in the price because of defects you have identified.

If my mortgage application is successful, is there anything else I should do before proceeding to complete the sale?

As long as your solicitor has found no problems with the property, and you are satisfied with its condition - on the basis of a survey - you can go ahead and complete the sale.
Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make, and financial considerations should always come first. Never overstretch or overcommit yourself. Your circumstances may change, interest rates may rise and house prices may not rise as you expected them to.
For further information you should contact your local estate agent, lending agency or solicitor.