First Time Buyers

Buying a new home is one of the most important purchases you will make, and buying a home for the first time will be an even more daunting prospect. Add to this the vast array of mortgage products available from a wide range of sources and you could be left with a high-stress, confusing decision.


Do not despair. Our experienced advisors will guide you throughout the entire process, from obtaining an initial Agreement in Principle (AIP), making an offer, to collecting your keys. We provide you with a single point of contact from start to finish so you only need to plan for moving day.

We are so committed to you, our client, that we’ll help you to do all the following;

1. Agree your Budget

Before you go looking for your first home it is vital that we calculate how much you can afford to borrow and, more importantly, how much you can afford to repay

Your expert adviser will help you work out how much you can afford to pay on a mortgage by adding up your monthly bills and looking at your other financial commitments over the year. By thinking about everything from gas and electricity bills, to big one-off purchases such as holidays or appliances for the home, you should have a better idea of what you can afford, before you go looking for your first home.

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2. Obtain an Agreement in Principle

Put simply, an Agreement in Principle (AIP), sometimes referred to as a Decision in Principle (DIP) or mortgage certificate, is an agreement from a lender to lend you a certain amount of money, subject to the usual checks. Most lenders will perform a credit search on you before issuing an Agreement in Principle so try not to apply for too many because this may affect your credit rating with some lenders.

An Agreement in Principle will show agents and sellers that you are a serious buyer with a mortgage lined up and will, potentially, put you a step ahead of other buyers.

Your expert adviser will obtain a full Agreement in Principle, on your behalf, before you go looking for your first home. This will put you in a strong position as a buyer and give you the confidence that you can raise the new mortgage, subject to the usual checks.

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3. Find a Property

Most buyers now start their search on the internet with websites such as rightmove.co.uk, primelocation.com and findaproperty.com, all proving very popular. See as many properties as you can to get an idea of what you like, which location you prefer and how prices compare. Go to viewings with a list of questions and don’t be afraid to request a second viewing if you are unsure. When you see lots of properties, it can be hard to remember what you thought of them, so you may want to compile a checklist of your requirements and jot down notes as you go along.

You expert adviser will be happy to arrange viewings on your behalf.

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4. Make an Offer

When you have found the right property for you, it’s time to make an offer. This for many first time buyers can be very daunting but your expert adviser will be right beside you. Don’t be afraid to offer below the asking price – if you don’t ask you don’t get! It is important to make an offer ‘subject to survey and contract’ as this allows you to withdraw if you find out anything you’ve not discovered so far in the process. The agent is legally obliged to pass on all offers to the seller, and should let you know if your’s has been accepted or rejected. In England and Wales, the acceptance of an offer is not legally binding, meaning either party could still back out or the seller could accept a higher offer from someone else later on – this is sometimes known as ‘gazumping’. To help avoid this, we can ask for the property to be taken off the market once your offer has been accepted.

Your expert adviser will help put forward your offer and ensure that the property is taken off the market once your offer is accepted.

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5. Instruct a Solicitor

Once your offer is accepted, you’ll need a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to handle the conveyancing. Conveyancing, put simply, is the legal process of transferring a property from one owner to another. The seller’s solicitor will send a contract to your solicitor including information such as the price of the property and its boundaries; it will also state the proposed date of completion of the purchase. Your solicitor or conveyancer will check the contract, all associated legal documents including the lease if there is one, and find out about the property’s history through planning and title searches. They’ll also contact the local authority to ask about any planned roadworks or new developments that might affect the property.

Legal fees vary from one solicitor to another and are normally dependent on the purchase price of the property. Your expert adviser will recommend a reliable and competitively priced solicitor.

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6. Submit your Mortgage Application

To formally apply for a mortgage, you’ll need to complete and submit an application. You’ll usually have to provide proof of ID and address for each person applying, evidence of your income and copies of your bank statements as well as details of the property you are looking to buy. You’ll also have to provide your solicitors details.

Your expert adviser will complete the mortgage application on your behalf and provide you with a list of your lender’s requirements. Sending all the documentation your lender needs at the outset will speed up your mortgage application.

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7. Valuation and Survey

Before making you a formal mortgage offer, your lender will do a basic valuation and survey to make sure the property is worth the agreed price and is suitable security for the loan. However, you may want to instruct a more comprehensive survey. This will make sure the building is sound and help to avoid any nasty surprises later on. There are three levels of survey:

  • Basic valuation and survey: this is carried out. Services are inspected but not tested. Again, fees are dependent on the purchase price of the property and generally range from £200 upwards.
  • Homebuyers report: this is intended to provide an overview on the general condition of the property. Generally, a surface examination of the parts of the property that are visible and readily accessible is carried out, and services are inspected but not tested. Again, fees are dependent on the purchase price of the property and generally range from £400 upwards.
  • Full structural survey: sometimes referred to as a building survey, this is a more detailed report on the property. It is generally carried out by a surveyor rather than a valuer and they tend to be carried out on properties more than 100 years old, listed buildings or buildings that have any unusual constructions. These generally cost upwards of £500.

Your expert adviser will discuss your survey requirements, before submitting your formal mortgage application, to ensure that you understand your options and instruct the most appropriate survey for you.

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8. Obtain a Formal Mortgage Offer

Once your lender is happy with the valuation, reference(s) and credit credits, you will receive a formal mortgage offer in writing and a copy will be sent to your solicitor, as well as ourselves. Your expert adviser will check this document to ensure that the terms and conditions are as expected. We will also confirm that your solicitor has received a copy of the offer document too. Once signed and returned, you are ready to exchange contracts. Most mortgage providers will require you to have valid buildings insurance in place by exchange of contracts in case something happens to the property before you move in. Your expert adviser will also ensure that your mortgage is fully protected from this point.

Your expert adviser will confirm that your mortgage offer is correct and that your solicitor has received a copy. Your adviser will also ensure that your mortgage is fully protected in readiness for exchange of contracts.

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9. Exchange Contracts

By this time, your solicitor should have finished all the paperwork, such as carrying out a local search, and a draft contract should have been approved for signing. The contract is a legally binding document that commits both you and the person selling their property to the deal. There’s no backing out once the contracts are exchanged. That’s why it’s essential that all the following steps have been completed before you sign and exchange the contract:

  • Your solicitor has completed all the searches and;
  • You have received a copy of your mortgage offer (in writing) from your lender and you have read it carefully and are happy with the terms and conditions and;
  • You have the required deposit available and;
  • You have agreed a completion date with the seller and it is noted within the contract. This is usually about two weeks after the contracts are exchange but may be less if all parties agree.

Your expert adviser will liaise with your solicitor to ensure that all of the above have been agreed and completed before the contracts are exchanged.

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10. Completion

On completion day, your solicitor or conveyancer pays the rest of the money from your lender to the seller, as well as any outstanding deposit due from you (only applicable if your deposit is greater than 10%). They will also sort out payment of Stamp Duty (if applicable), their fee’s and any other outstanding charges. Once all this is done, you’ll get the legal documents that prove your ownership of the property and you can collect the keys to your new home. Congratulations – you now own your new home.

Your expert adviser will liaise with your solicitor to ensure that completion of your purchase takes place in a timely manner and the keys are released to you without delay.

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The above is intended as an overview of the normal buying process in England & Wales.

Some purchases progress more quickly than others but White Mortgages are committed to making your purchase as stress-free as possible for you. Your adviser will do everything they can, in a timely and professional manner, to facilitate your purchase.