First Time Buyer Process | NatWest

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What is the first time buyer process?

From budgeting to
unlocking your new front door

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Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

NatWest mortgages are available for over 18s.

Knowing where to start in a maze of mortgages and paperwork can be daunting. We've put together this guide to help you along the way:

Check how much you can borrow

Before you start looking at properties, it’s a good idea to talk to a mortgage lender or take a look at our how much can I borrow tool to get an idea of how much you may be able to borrow. You’ll also need to work out how much your monthly mortgage repayments may be. Remember, the larger your deposit, the more likely it is that you’ll pay a lower rate of interest or maybe less fees. 

 

Don’t forget you’ll also need to set aside some savings to pay for other costs like legal fees, surveys and Stamp Duty (or LBTT in Scotland).

 

It’s a good idea to ask your lender for a ‘Agreement in Principle’ now too.  Even though it’s not a guaranteed offer, it shows agents that you could be serious about getting a mortgage. 

 

Get started with an Agreement in Principle

Decide what you're looking for and where

Do your research. Think about your criteria. Write a list.

 

Buying a home is likely to be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make so think about what you really want and need. Is a garden a necessity or is off-street parking more important? How many bedrooms will you need? And if buying a flat, would you like it to be freehold or leasehold?

 

Location is important too. How good are the nearby transport links and local schools? How far will you need to travel to work or to the shops? Draw up your own checklist and work out what are must-haves and what you could live without.

 

If you're looking for property in London, our London Borough Comparison tool might help when you're weighing up the different areas to live.

If you’re looking to buy in an area where the market is competitive, like London, you may end up looking around properties at the same time as other potential buyers. You might found our London Borough Comparison tool helpful when you're considering areas to live.
If you’re looking to buy in an area where the market is competitive, like London, you may end up looking around properties at the same time as other potential buyers. You might found our London Borough Comparison tool helpful when you're considering areas to live.
If you’re looking to buy in an area where the market is competitive, like London, you may end up looking around properties at the same time as other potential buyers. You might found our London Borough Comparison tool helpful when you're considering areas to live.
If you’re looking to buy in an area where the market is competitive, like London, you may end up looking around properties at the same time as other potential buyers. You might found our London Borough Comparison tool helpful when you're considering areas to live.

Start house hunting

Register with estate agents and start looking on websites like Zoopla. Sign up for email alerts so you’ll know as soon as a property that meets your criteria is listed online. And when you find something that you like, call the agent and arrange a viewing. Don’t expect to fall love with the first place you look at, you might need to see a dozen places before you even consider making an offer.

Make an offer

When you’ve found the right place, make an offer through the estate agent. Remember, the sale price is what the seller hopes to get and not necessarily what they realistically expect. You may be able to negotiate a lower price. Make sure you know how much you’re prepared to let the seller push your offer up. 

 

As a first-time buyer you could be in a strong position to negotiate on price. Don’t forget the estate agent is working for the seller and a reduced price could lower their commission – so make sure they put forward every offer to the seller. Know what you can afford and stick to it.

Offer accepted? Time to finalise your mortgage

Now’s the time to find a solicitor or conveyancer so ask around for recommendations. They will take care of the legal transfer of the property from one owner to another. But before that can happen they need to do all the necessary land searches to check for past and potential problems.

 

Your mortgage will need to be arranged now so speak to your lender about what you need to do. They’ll need to see paperwork that proves your income and expenses, and they’ll ask about any other personal circumstances that may affect your ability to pay. They’ll also need to know what the property is worth so will arrange for a Standard Valuation.

 

Surveys and survey results

While it’s a legal requirement to have a Standard Valuation carried out, you might like to get a more detailed survey to avoid any nasty surprises later. You can find out more about the different types of house surveys in our guide.

 

If your valuation or survey highlights problems with the property, get a tradesman or builder to quote how much it will cost to fix it. Use this information to lower your offer and renegotiate on price. Be prepared to walk away if you need to.

Exchange contracts

At this point your solicitor or conveyancer will have carried out all the land searches that are needed.

 

You’ll need to have buildings insurance now too, just in case something happens to the property before you move in. Your mortgage will usually include this as a condition, so not having a policy in place could put your house purchase at risk.

 

If you're buying a leasehold flat, the building might be insured by the landlord who owns the freehold. So you'll need to check with your solicitor to see if your lease means you have to take out buildings insurance too, or just contents insurance.

Read more about home insurance

 

You’ll be asked to sign a contract that legally commits you to buying the property. Money will be moved, which your solicitor or conveyancer will arrange, and you’ll need to pay your deposit.

 

The signed contract will be exchanged with the seller’s solicitor or conveyancer, and the two sides will agree a date to complete the sale. Your solicitor will also prepare for the transfer of deeds.

Start packing

As soon as you know your moving date you can start getting organised. You might want to book a removal firm to help with your move – it’s a good idea to book early to get a good price. When packing, remember to label everything clearly and know where you’ve packed your everyday essentials – like your toothbrush, bed sheets, mugs and tea bags. 

 

If you have contents insurance, it’s a good idea to check if you’re covered during moving – just in case anything gets damaged during the move. And let your insurers know when you’ll be moving to your new address.

 

Completion

It’s time to pick up the keys from the estate agents to your new home. This is when the property becomes legally yours. All the forms will have been signed, Stamp Duty (LBTT in Scotland) has been paid and the money has been transferred to the seller’s solicitor. Time to pop the champagne and pick up your new keys.

 

Don’t forget to:


Tell your old gas, electricity, water and phone suppliers that you’re moving out and take final meter readings

Let the council know you’re moving so you can stop paying council tax at your old address

Ring your new utility suppliers to let them know that you’ve moved in and give them meter readings

Get in touch with the Royal Mail to redirect your post from your old address

 

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Useful links

There’s a lot to think about and research when buying your first home. Here are some websites to help you research before you buy. 

Find out about the government scheme
Help to Buy

Useful tips for first time buyers
Money Advice Service

See property prices in your area
Zoopla

Work out what you’ll pay
Stamp Duty Calculator

Find a surveyor near you
Surveyors

These links are to non-NatWest websites. NatWest is not liable for the accuracy of the information provided on these websites. 

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