Ultimate Guide: Buying Your First Home

Navigating the world of property as a first-time buyer can be an exciting yet daunting task. With many factors to consider and many decisions to make, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Fear not, aspiring homeowners!

This comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and strategies to confidently navigate each stage, from assessing your financial readiness to securing an offer on your dream property to move-in day.

We’ve split it into three sections:

Section 1: Laying the Foundation for Success

The purpose of this planning stage is to enhance the chances of finding your dream home and increase the possibilities of you being the winning bidder on your dream home.

1. Seek Expert Advice

In other countries, it’s prevalent to instruct an agent to assist you in buying your home. It is rare in Southbourne or the UK to do this, but I would seek expert advice and do as much research as possible. If you’re reading this guide, that’s an excellent place to start.

2. Assess Your Finances

Gain a clear understanding of your financial capabilities by calculating your income, expenses, and potential mortgage borrowing capacity so you can establish a realistic budget.

3. Obtain Pre-Approval

Securing pre-approval from a mortgage lender demonstrates your financial readiness to potential sellers and strengthens your position as a buyer. This pre-qualification process will also provide you with an estimated loan amount, allowing you to focus on properties within your price range. I always recommend seeking a great mortgage broker as they can often assist with advice in many parts of the house-buying process.

4. Conduct Thorough Research

Immerse yourself in research about the Southbourne property market, including average prices, trends, and the availability of homes that align with your needs and preferences. Utilise online resources, attend open houses, and speak to locals to gain a comprehensive understanding of the area.

5. Define Your Requirements

Define your property requirements, considering size, location, amenities, proximity to schools or workplaces, and any special considerations for your family or lifestyle. This process will help narrow your search and ensure you find a home that suits your needs. If you’re wasting time viewing homes that were never going to suit you, that is time you could have spent on more fruitful tasks.

Everybody compromises when buying a home, even the super-wealthy. Working out what you’re happy to compromise on will be a constructive task.

Section 2: Embarking on Your Property Search and Securing an Offer

With a solid foundation in place, it’s time to embark on your property search and secure an offer on your dream home:

1. Register with agents

Use online property portals for research and highlight estate agent listings to identify properties matching your criteria. Shortlist potential homes and schedule viewings to get a closer look and assess their suitability.

2. Attend First Viewings Differently

Focus on the core fundamentals of the property, space and light. If it feels wrong, there’s no need to spend 30 minutes critiquing every part of it. Move on to the next one. The agent will appreciate the honest feedback, but they’ll also understand that not every home is for you.

3. Make Informed Decisions

Don’t rush into decisions. Carefully consider each property’s strengths and weaknesses. If you’re unsure about a particular property, it isn’t for you. In the many years I’ve been doing this job, a maybe is a no. That’s okay, go with it. Trust your gut instinct.

4. Craft a Competitive Offer

When you’ve found your dream home, it’s time to make an offer. Remember, there is more to an offer than the price, but the price is almost always the most critical factor. Determine a fair and competitive offer price, considering the property’s market value, condition, recent comparable sales in the area, and what you’re happy to pay.

5. Be Prepared to Negotiate

Compromising is a standard part of the home buying process, and negotiation is the game for who compromises between buyer and seller.

6. Upon Offer Acceptance

You’ve taken a significant step towards securing your first home, but there’s still a long way to go.

I see so many first-time buyers at this stage in their excitement, not 100% sure exactly what the seller has agreed to regarding fixtures and fittings, timescales, whether they will tie in an onward purchase, etc. Take time at this stage to double-check.

Section 3: From Offer Acceptance to Completion Day

With your offer accepted, the next stage of your home-buying journey is to confirm your finances and process the legal checks… before finally moving into your dream home. This phase involves a series of crucial steps, including instructing your solicitor, arranging surveys, securing Insurance, and arranging moving services.

1. Instructing a Solicitor

Your solicitor plays a critical role in the chance of success in buying your home and the amount of stress you will suffer getting there. They will conduct searches, review contracts, and handle conveyancing. Choose a reputable conveyancing solicitor with experience handling first-time buyer transactions.

A solicitor’s two most fabulous skills are quick and efficient communication and problem-solving. Finding a solicitor who has both ensures a different home-buying experience.

2. Arranging Surveys

Before completion, arranging surveys to assess the property’s condition and identify any potential structural or hidden defects is essential. Common surveys include:

  • Structural Survey
    This in-depth examination comprehensively overviews the property’s structural integrity.

  • Homebuyer Report:
    This less detailed report focuses on the property’s significant defects and suitability for occupation whilst giving generic information on what else might need checking. I find this survey level confusing for buyers as it often reads like a house is falling down if not given context.

  • Mortgage Valuation:
    Although you pay for this, it’s for the benefit of your mortgage provider to assess the property’s suitability for them to lend you the money.

  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC):
    This mandatory certificate assesses the property’s energy efficiency.

3. Securing Insurance

Protect your investment by securing appropriate home insurance on the exchange of contracts.

4. Arranging Moving Services

As the completion date approaches, it’s time to arrange moving services. Compare quotes from reputable removal companies and carefully plan your packing and transportation of belongings. It’s worth having plans A and B as completion dates can move around in the run-up to exchange, and your first-choice removal company might be booked on the eventual date.

5. Completion Day

Completion day is agreed upon and set on the exchange of contracts. There is usually a week or two between exchange and completion for you to finalise all your moving arrangements. It is the final stage of the homebuying process. It marks the official transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer.

6. Moving In

Once it is complete, you can finally move into your new home! Enjoy the excitement of unpacking, decorating, and making your new house a haven.


Remember, buying your first home is a significant milestone, and enjoying the journey is essential. With careful planning, expert guidance, and a confident approach, you’ll successfully navigate the homebuying process and find your dream property in Southbourne or the surrounding area.