Detailed First Time Home Buyer Checklist | Checkatrade
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First time home buyer checklist

Planning to buy your first home can be overwhelming. Thankfully, our first-time home buyer checklists break down everything essential into easy steps.

Reaching the point in your life where you’re ready to buy your first home is incredibly exciting. Not to mention the sense of achievement that comes with getting a foot on the property ladder. However, the house buying process can be very complicated and long. That’s why we have put together a first-time home buyer checklist to guide you through this process.

We’ll be covering everything you need to know about buying your new home. From legalities to inspections and getting a grip on your finances.

First-time home buyer checklist: navigating the process

The home buying process can take months and over that time you’ll need to be prepared to undergo many checks, fill in a lot of paperwork and look at a range of new properties. Don’t worry if this seems scary, our 1st time home buyer checklist is designed to simplify this process and ensure you don’t forget anything important.

Use the following first time home buyer checklist to assist on your journey:

Save for a deposit

Before you even consider buying a home, you’ll need to save up a deposit. Depending on the type and size of home you choose, you’ll usually need to save anything from 5%–20%.

Budget for fees

You’ll also need to budget for different necessary fees, these include solicitor fees and stamp duty (more on this later).

Speak to a mortgage advisor

The next step is to speak to a mortgage advisor about how much you can afford. Remember to be honest about your expenses and debts as giving false information is a crime.

Get a mortgage in principle

You can then obtain a mortgage in principle from your chosen mortgage provider. This is an agreement with your lender that they’ll give you a specific amount towards your new home.

Register with estate agents

Look around your local area for estate agents and tell them you’re on the hunt for a home. They can organise showings and help you to decide exactly what type of property is perfect for you. They may even be able to show you properties before they get listed online.

Browse property websites and apps

You can also look at different homes online, although you’ll need to work with an estate agent to organise viewings.

View properties

Visit and look around different properties. It’s worth viewing a range of homes to help you choose the property that best meets your requirements.

Make an offer

Once you fall in love with a home, it’s time to put in an offer. This doesn’t have to be for the full value of the property, although if your offer is too low it won’t be accepted.

Find a conveyancing solicitor

Once the homeowner has agreed to your offer, you’ll need to find a conveyancer to help you navigate the legal process of buying a property.

Get a survey

While the conveyancing process gets underway, you’ll need to get a survey of the property. This will flag up any issues, structural and cosmetic. Never forego a survey as there could be serious issues that will cost you thousands to fix.

Exchange and complete

Finally, follow the legal procedure for exchanging contracts. Then you’ll be the proud owner of your first home.

Find a trusted local surveyor to check your new property over by typing your postcode into the search box below.

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first time home buyer expense checklist

First time home buyer expense checklist: what to budget for

As we briefly mentioned, there’s a range of expenses you’ll need to be aware of when moving house. These can add up, so always ensure your budget is flexible enough to cover the essentials.

Luckily, our first time home buyer expense checklist should assist you when calculating how much to save. You’ll usually need to pay for:

A house survey

This could range from around £300 to around £550 depending on the level of investigation you opt for.

Mortgage arrangement fees

This is a fee you pay for the lender to set up your mortgage and can be as high as 1% of your property’s value. You can normally choose whether to pay it upfront or add it to your mortgage.

Mortgage broker fee

Not all mortgage brokers will charge you a fee but many will. This will typically be either a fee of around £500 or commission, depending on how big your mortgage is.

Stamp duty

First time buyers only need to pay stamp duty if the property is over £425,000. If you do need to pay it, it will only apply to the amount over the threshold. Stamp duty can vary between 5-12% depending on the value of the property.

Valuation of the new property

Some mortgage lenders will conduct a mortgage valuation on the new property for free, but others will charge you a small fee – usually under £150.

Searches

You’ll often have to pay a small fee for the local council to check if there are any local issues that could affect the property’s value, which can include a drains search. Your conveyancer will normally arrange this but it can cost up to around £300.

Conveyancing fees

You’ll need to pay for all the work carried out by your conveyancing solicitor. This can be charged as a percentage of the mortgage price or as a flat fee, often between around £800-£1,500.

Buildings and contents insurance

The average cost of buildings and contents insurance is around £216 per yearaccording to MoneySuperMarket data.

Moving costs

You’ll likely need to hire a moving truck or even a company to pack and move your possessions for you. As a ballpark cost, for two removal professionals and a van you can expect to pay around £50 - £80 per hour.

Repairs and heavy-duty cleaning of the new house

You could always do these yourself, although that’ll take time and effort. If you decide to use a professional, the average house deep cleaning price is around £14.50 per hour.

Redecorating the new house to suit your taste

When it comes to redecorating, you can expect to pay around £325 per day in painter and decorator prices. Don’t forget to add on new furniture and fittings to make your new property a home!

1st time home buyer checklist

First time home buyer inspection checklist: what to check in your new property

When it comes to buying a new home, there are a wide range of checks that need to be done to ensure there are no nasty surprises hiding in the property. You should always hire a surveyor to carry out a professional inspection. However, there’s no harm in checking the property over yourself as well.

Remember that you can ask the estate agent for information about elements that you’re unable to check yourself.

Location

Check that the location of your new home works well for you. For example, is the property on a flight path, near to a train track or main road? Are the neighbours friendly? If you have children, is it near a school?

Structure

Ensure there are no obvious issues with the walls, roof, ceiling and floors.

Electrics

Check for any problems with lighting, sockets, internet and phone signal.

Plumbing

You can also look for any damage to the pipes, boiler, radiators, waste management system, bath, toilet, sinks and shower.

Gas

This is an important check as issues with gas connections can be deadly. However, don’t attempt to check these yourself.

Gutters

Look for blockages and any damage.

Doors

Check the doors are sturdy, secure and properly fitted. You should also change the locks when moving into a new home.

Windows

Look for the type of glazing used, whether the windows have proper locks and that any openings are safe for children and pets.

Stairs

If you have mobility issues, steep stairs may impact your decision to buy a property. Always check for creaking and that the stairs are safe for use.

Garage

Check whether the garage is watertight if you intend to use it for storage. Also, make sure it’ll be emptied before you move in.

Loft

Make sure the loft is leakproof and there are no signs of rats or asbestos.

Odours

See if you notice any odours when walking around the house. If the current owners have pets, the carpets may be damaged by urine so will need to be replaced. Any strong odours should be investigated.

Mould or damp

Check for signs of mould or damp as this can be a costly issue to remedy.

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First time home buyer checklist: after closing

Once you’ve closed on your new home, you can really start to get excited. At this point the property is legally yours, so congratulations! It’s important to bear in mind that there are still some important things to remember. Thankfully, this first-time home buyer checklist for after closing will help to ease you through the transition:

  • Deep clean your old and new house. Cleaning your old home may be a part of your tenancy agreement but even if it isn’t, it’s considerate for the new property owner
  • Get a locksmith to change the locks on your new property for security. You could even upgrade the locks to prevent burglars from gaining access to your home
  • Consider hiring a moving company. Packing and moving your possessions can be very arduous, but professionals can do the hard work for you
  • Find a safe place for documents. Always keep all your important documents together – you never know when you might need them!
  • Get buildings and contents insurance. Buildings insurance will likely be a requirement of your mortgage offer and will protect you in case of accidents or damages
  • Consider changing utilities. Check whether you can change to new utilities providers to save money
  • Budget for decorating. Decorating your new house can be costly unless you plan to do the work yourself
  • Set up a postal redirection. This can be useful to tide you over until you’ve had a chance to update your address everywhere
  • Update your address. Change your address and, if necessary, your phone number with everywhere essential using our checklist below

First time home buyer moving checklist: where to update your address

Moving home means changing your address. Make sure to do this sooner rather than later so you don’t miss any important post.

Using our first-time home buyer moving checklist will ensure you don’t forget anything important. So, remember to update your address with:

  • Financial businesses like banks and creditors
  • Legal departments like the DVLA, HMRC and your TV license
  • Different store loyalty cards
  • Employer
  • Children’s school and clubs
  • Utilities including water, gas and electric
  • Insurance companies including home, car and health insurance
  • Hobby subscriptions and memberships like your gym, monthly magazines and regular newspapers
  • Health providers like your GP surgery, optician, local vet and dentist
  • Connection services like your mobile phone company, internet provider and any TV subscriptions

How can Checkatrade help?

We want your move to your new home to be as fun and simple as possible, and there are a number of ways we can help. Moving home will usually mean you need professional assistance from a range of tradespeople including moving companies, surveyors, locksmiths, decorators, cleaners and more.

Luckily, our free search feature can instantly connect you with highly qualified tradespeople close to your new home. Checkatrade Approved members have to pass up to 12 checks – including receiving regular reviews from homeowners – so you’ll know you’re hiring someone you can trust. Not only will they be able to help you nail your house move, but they’ll also be able to take away some of the pressure on your shoulders and make your new house a home.

Ready to turn your dream property into your home? The first step after getting your offer accepted is to get a survey completed. Just enter your postcode below to get started.

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