We sold our first home 5 years ago. Since then I have lived with rental anxiety for fear of having a rental contract terminated and being stuck for somewhere to live with my two children and most importantly… My dog. Landlords aren’t generally fans of dogs in my experience. It can be very much a case of taking what you can get when you need to house your furry friend too.

After relocating 3 years ago and renting the same lovely house we’re taking the plunge and trying to buy a house. It’s been almost 12 years since we last bought and I had completely forgotten the process so I thought I’d put together a bit of a guide for how to buy a house in case you find yourself in a similar position.

How To Buy A House In The UK

There is a massive culture in the UK that owning a property is ‘best’. That’s not always the case. Don’t be pressured into a buying a property if it isn’t right for you at that time – you need to think about the future and the investment you’re making and if it is right for you regardless of others opinions.

From a recent Instagram poll we ran, 13% of you are currently renting. I have rented my current house for 3 years and that has been the right thing for us. Yes we’ve spent money paying off someone else’s mortgage but we know in the grand scheme of things it would be for a short term and it has allowed us to get to know the area we live in, create an amazing community of friends and more importantly it has given us time to make decisions about our future and what is the right thing for us. And now the next step for us is to buy. We have started the process of buying a new build. I’m going to try and cover off all aspects of buying existing and new builds but as always please do let me know in the comments below if there is anything I need to add in from your experiences.

First Steps When Buying A House

Check your credit score. I believe there are three main credit reference agencies that lenders use including Experian. When applying for a mortgage your lender will run a full credit check so it’s good to know what your score is and if you’re unsure of what it all means you can call Experian (or your chosen credit reference agency) and they will run through it all with you and give you tips on how to improve your score should you need to. There are specialist mortgage lenders out there that will cater for people with adverse credit so just because you might have a low score doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get a mortgage – it is just likely that you will pay a higher rate of interest.

So credit score checked, the next move is to calculate how much you can borrow. You can use a mortgage calculator which you will be able to find on most mortgage lender websites and you can also look at a mortgage deposit calculator. You can also check their lending criteria whilst there as well. Check savings and see if you have enough in place for the deposit that you would require. Lenders also accept gifting for deposits if anyone wants to contribute to your deposit.

Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice to take at this point is don’t max yourself out. Just because you have seen how much a mortgage provider will lend you doesn’t mean that you have to take that amount. What you can lend and what you can actually afford can be two different things. The last thing you want is to have bought a house you love and not be able to keep up payments on it. Also be aware that for you, it is a huge undertaking but for your estate agents and solicitors it’s their every day job. You’re not the only one buying a house so you will find that you’ll likely have to chase for things.

What Is Help To Buy

When it comes to buying a new build you could be eligible for the governments Help To Buy scheme. If buying straight out it’s likely you will have to find a minimum of 10% of the property value for your deposit but with HTB you only need to find 5%. The government then contributes 20% so in total you are lending 75% of the value of the property. In brief, you pay 0% interest on that 20% investment from the government for the first 5 years, following that you start to pay interest only on it. You can either pay that 20% back in half or full at any point during ownership or upon sale of the property. You will pay 20% of whatever the value of the property is at point of sale/pay back – so if your property has increased in value you pay more back or if the value has dropped you pay less.

You can read more about Help To Buy here.

Benefits For First Time Buyers

If you are a first time buyer and aged between 18 and 39 you may be entitled to get up to £32,000 of funding through the government if you open a new Lifetime ISA. You may recall this launching in 2017. Essentially you can save up to £4,000 a year (by depositing a lump sum or by saving as and when). The government will then add a 25% bonus on top fof that if you use the funds to purchase your first home. So for example – if you save £4,000 your total will actually be £5,000 and that’s before any interest has accrued too.

How Much Does It Cost To Buy A House

So you’ve done all your research into lending and deposits and you’ve started house hunting (I’ll go more in to that shortly) but how much does it really cost to buy a house?

Here is around up of fees you should consider:
• If you’re using a mortgage advisor you may have fees for them – these are often absorbed by lenders but always check with your advisor upfront.
• Valuation fee – You pay this to your mortgage lender upfront and it can be between £200 – £500.
• Arrangement fee – This is to set up your mortgage and is typically about £1000. It can be added on to your loan if you choose.
• Legal/solicitors fees – Your fees are made up of several factors including your stamp duty fee, mortgage application review, local search fees, land registry fee, possibly a fee for processing a gifted deposit if that applies to you and identity search fees. Legal fees typically come in somewhere between £850 – £1000.
• Surveys (where they are looking for subsidence/damp/structural issues etc) – these can come in anywhere between £300 – £700 and depending on the type of house you’re buying you might need more than one.
• Your mortgage company is likely to charge you a telegraphic transfer fee of around £25.
• Removal fees – If you’re looking to hire a decent sized van and move yourself you could be looking to spend about £60+ a day or for a professional move, possibly where the movers pack your stuff and dismantle and rebuild furniture you could be looking at upwards of £700 depending on how much you have to move.
• Furnishing – If you’re moving into your first home or even a new one where existing fixtures/fittings/furniture doesn’t fit you will need to kit it out so allow budget for furnishings as well.
• Home repairs – if after viewing you know there is work that will be required at the property try and get quotes for all of these jobs before committing so you can make sure at least the most urgent jobs can be accommodated in to your budget.

With all these costs it’s really important to make sure you have some savings to see you comfortably through the ew months before, during and after sorting your house purchase. You are asked to shell out £400 for a valuation here and £300 for searches there your funds may soon deplete so make sure you have enough to see the full process through.

How Much Is Stamp Duty

If you’re a first time buyer you will be exempt from paying stamp duty on properties up to a value of £300,000. (You can find out more about stamp duty relief here). If you’re not a first time buyer you will pay stamp duty on properties with a purchase prince of £125,000 or more. Our stamp duty is being dealt with by our Solicitor so I presume that is the norm. You don’t need to do anything separately for it.

You can find a stamp duty calculator here to work out how much yours would be.

I have made this handy Buying A House timeline that you can pin to remind yourself of the steps involved. It includes asking questions when you go to view houses that you really like… You can see what we think are ten really important ones to ask here.



I hope if you’re thinking of buying sometime soon that this has been helpful and as always I’m sure our wonderful community will pitch in below with anything I might have missed or any great tips to consider when buying a home. If you want to know more about the exchange period and how long that might take you can read Lauren’s really helpful post here. There is tonnes of reader insight to read through too.