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Tips For Your First Move

It can be the most stressful time of all - after all, it is the biggest single transaction many of us are likely to make. In some ways, it gets easier each time you move, but it can still be a complicated business.

Here are our ten tips for making the process a little less painful!

  1. Start with some questions: what is your income and how is this likely to change? Where do you want to live and how many bedrooms will you need? If you don't know what you're looking for, you won't know when you've found it!
  2. Speak to a range of mortgage providers to see who you are comfortable dealing with - not just on the high street. Ask for explanations of the various mortgages available: discount, cashback, endowment, fixed rate and so on. How much can you put down as a deposit?
  3. You'll need a solicitor or licensed conveyancer. Some mortgages provide a cash sum to cover legal costs as part of the package.
  4. Before you visit the estate agents, do your homework: make sure you know what you're looking for and how much you can afford, and emphasise that you are in a position to move quickly. Remember that the estate agent is acting for the vendor at all times!
  5. List the features you must have and those which are 'nice to have'. Try to find out why a house is being sold, what the neighbourhood is like and whether you can visit at different times of the day.
  6. When you've found a place that you like, make an offer through the estate agent. If it is accepted, inform your mortgage provider and legal adviser, and await their instructions before signing anything. (Remember, in Scotland an accepted offer is legally binding). The lender will arrange a basic valuation which you may have to pay for, but it is often sensible to commission a homebuyer report or full structural survey as well.
  7. Leave the background work to the experts - searches, preparation of the mortgage offer, checks on legal title and so on - that's what you're paying them for. However, don't be afraid to chase them up if needs be.
  8. If all goes to plan, your solicitor will ask you to sign the contract, after which he/she will 'exchange' it with the sellers' solicitor. In England and Wales, you are now committed to the purchase and you will be asked for your deposit. Remember, you need to insure the buildings at this point, but not the contents.
  9. Whilst making arrangements for removals, don't forget to sort out gas, electricity, water and phone changes, plus mail forwarding.
  10. Of course, completion day is when the house becomes yours, and you have to deliver the balance of the purchase price. Time to move in - now the fun really starts!

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