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How to buy a house - our guide

There’s a lot to think about when buying a home, especially your first one. So whether you’ve just set up your savings account to get the ball rolling, or you’ve found a home you can’t stop thinking about, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the home-buying process in England and Wales.

If you are buying a house in Scotland please download our Guide for Buying Your First Home in Scotland [PDF].

  1. What types of mortgages and schemes are available?

    • There are a number of different schemes and mortgages which might be available to help you on your journey to home ownership depending on your circumstances.
    • At Skipton we support a number of government backed schemes, such as Shared Ownership. We also have other options such as our Track Record Mortgage for renters and our Income Booster scheme.
    • Find out more by visiting our Mortgage help for first time buyers page.
  2. Check you can afford to repay a mortgage

    • Before we (or any lender) can give you a mortgage, we need to make sure you can afford to pay it back. You can get a high level calculation using our affordability quick check in a few seconds or you can use our affordability calculator to get a more accurate idea of what you can afford and what we might be able to lend you based on your income and outgoings.
    • When to do it: before you start your property search.

    Extra costs

    Along with your deposit and checking how much you might be able to afford for a mortgage, there are other costs to consider when buying a house.

    Read our article on the costs of buying a house to find out more about the extra costs you might need to pay.

  3. Finding out how much you could borrow

    • When you’ve found a house you want to buy, it’s worth getting a Decision in Principle (DIP) to show you how much you may be able to borrow before you make an offer on it. Our DIP involves a ‘soft’ credit check, which won't affect your credit score. You can find more information on our Credit Scoring Guide [PDF].
    • You’ll have the option to request a DIP once you’ve completed our affordability calculator. You can request a DIP straight away or within 30 days of receiving your affordability calculation.
    • When to do it: when you’ve found a house and you’re ready to make an offer.
  4. Making an offer on a house

    • You make your offer directly to the estate agent selling the house. They may want to see the DIP as proof that you are able to afford the mortgage and get the financing in place. If you aren’t offering the full asking price be prepared that they may not accept your first offer, so set yourself an upper limit you’re comfortable with. Do some upfront research to see if you can find out what the house has sold for in the past and what similar properties are going for in the surrounding area. There might be room for negotiation.
    • When to do it: once you've got a DIP.
  5. Find a conveyancer

    • Conveyancing is the legal process involved in the transfer of title of the property from the seller to the buyer, and the lender taking the mortgage on the property to secure their loan to the buyer.
    • A conveyancer (also known as a solicitor or licensed conveyancer) is a type of property lawyer who takes care of the legal aspects of buying your house. If you're using a Lifetime ISA towards your deposit, you'll also need your conveyancer to help you withdraw the money from it.
    • The conveyancer will act for the buyer and the lender, so the conveyancing firm needs to be on the lender’s conveyancing panel. If you don’t know a conveyancer, ask people you know for recommendations or search online.
    • We have a panel of conveyancers who are eligible to act on our behalf. If you know that your chosen firm is not on our panel then they can apply for membership on our conveyancing panel, however, this may cause delays.
    • When to do it: it's best to be prepared, so the sooner the better. You may want to get a conveyancer in place before you complete your mortgage application.
  6. Completing a mortgage application

    • Not all mortgages are the same, so with Skipton you’ll get your own personal mortgage adviser who will be with you from day one right up until completion. They’ll take you through an appointment and recommend a mortgage from our range that suits your needs. This could be a fixed or variable rate and might include cashback, they will also discuss buildings insurance with you.
    • You can speak to them via our video appointment service or over the phone. An appointment takes around an hour and a half and you’ll need supporting documentation like payslips, proof of ID, utility bills etc. At this point we will run a hard credit check. Most mortgage offers last for six months.
    • Read our article on ways to prepare for your mortgage application to find some useful tips about what you may need to have ready for your appointment.
    • If you’re happy with our mortgage recommendation and you’d like to proceed, we’ll start to assess your mortgage application.
    • When to do it: after you’ve made an offer on a house.

    Buildings insurance

    You won’t be exchanging contracts for a while, but as soon as you do, you’ll need to ensure you have buildings insurance in place (usually a condition of your mortgage). You can’t insure the building until you own it, but a bit of research comparing providers at this point could save you a lot of time later. We offer a choice of home insurance policies to cover your home and its contents, which are provided and underwritten by Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Limited.

  7. Starting the conveyancing process

    • At this point your conveyancer could start handling the legal elements of buying your house. We will give our instructions to the conveyancer when we’ve completed all of our checks, we’re satisfied with the valuation (see next step) and we subsequently make a mortgage offer.
    • The conveyancing process usually takes several weeks. How long it takes will depend on your own individual circumstance and if there is a chain of sellers and buyers.
    • When to do it: once your offer to purchase the property has been accepted.
  8. Lender valuation and independent surveys

    • If you choose a Skipton mortgage, we may instruct our own mortgage valuation from a valuer. This will be for mortgage purposes only and properties up to the value of £1.5m there is no charge for this. We need to ensure the property is sufficient security for the loan and the valuation is for mortgage purposes.
    • You can also arrange for a more detailed survey of your own if you want to. A survey is an inspection of a property’s condition which is carried out by a qualified Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) assessor. The type you choose depends on the home you’re buying and how much detail you want. If faults are found, you might be able to negotiate a lower price or even ask for them to be put right before you buy the property. You can search for UK surveyors on the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors website or we can help you find a surveyor – just ask your mortgage adviser.
    • You can find out more about valuations and surveys on our valuing your residential or BTL property page.
    • When to do it: once your offer to purchase the property has been accepted.
  9. Exchange contracts

    • Once you’ve received your mortgage offer and the conveyancer has completed the legal work, they will arrange the exchange of contracts and give your initial deposit to the seller’s conveyancer. When you’ve signed and exchanged, you’re committed to the purchase, so make sure you’re happy with it before putting pen to paper. As well as it being in your own interests, a lender will require you to have buildings insurance in place at this point.
    • When to do it: this will happen once the initial conveyancing process is complete.
  10. Get the keys and move in

    • This is what all those years of saving have been building up to. Once the seller’s conveyancer has the money, they’ll instruct the estate agent to give you the keys. Congratulations! You're officially a homeowner. Moving day can be exciting and rewarding yet a little tiring - but that’s another story - just make sure you’ve got the essentials, like a kettle, milk and coffee - and don’t forget the loo roll!

Useful links

The Skipton Home Conveyancing service and standard valuation are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
You could lose your home if you don’t keep up your mortgage repayments.

Need help?

Call us

If you need more help one of our friendly members of staff would be happy to assist.

0345 607 9825

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