What Are the Stages of Buying a House in the UK?

An open door showing the lock and empty home behind

Buying a new house can be a daunting time for many people, especially first-time buyers. Understanding the process in advance can help you calm your nerves and make an informed decision at each step. In this guide, we’ll explain the 6 stages of buying a new home.

So what are the stages of buying a house in the UK? In the UK, there are 6 stages of buying a new house that should be performed in order to ensure the process runs as smooth as possible:

Finding an affordable property

  • Making an offer
  • Finding a solicitor and surveyor
  • Finalising your offer and mortgage
  • Exchanging contracts
  • Completing the purchase

Read on to find out more about the 6 stages of buying a house in the UK.


What Are the Steps of Buying a House in the UK?

Buying a new house can often be a complicated process. With so many loops to jump through, many first-time buyers can feel lost and confused, and worry that they aren’t covering everything that’s needed. Below, we’ve broken down the 6 steps of buying a house in the UK.

Find an Affordable Property

The first step is to find a property that you can comfortably afford. To do this, you’ll first need to spend some time calculating how much you can actually afford to spend without breaking the bank. This will affect the house that you’re able to purchase and the mortgage that you can afford. Make sure to include any known budget changes that might happen in the future, and ensure that you’re able to afford to live on top of it.

At this stage, you should also be looking at applying for a mortgage as it can be a time consuming process. Once you’ve found one and been accepted ‘in principle’, the lender will tell you how much they’re likely to offer you and the interest rate you’ll pay. You can then use this to further narrow down your budgets and property choice.

Take your time finding a property and ensure you’re happy with your choice. View as many as you can within your budget and look at external factors such as schools, transport, and anything else that matters to you. Once you’ve made your decision, you can move onto making an offer.

There are a lot of options out there for ways to purchase a property. Check out our blog, ‘Is buying a shared ownership property a good idea?’ to see if it’s right for you.

Make an Offer

At this stage, you’ll want to make your offer. This is usually done through the estate agent that’s advertising or managing the sale. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about what the seller wants, but bear in mind that they’re trying to get the best deal for their client!

You won’t need to pay the estate agent to receive your offer, as you only have to pay for the estate agent if you’re the one selling the property. 

Find a Solicitor and Surveyor

Once your offer is accepted, you’ll need to find a solicitor and a surveyor to make sure everything runs smoothly.


The solicitor’s job is to handle the legal work regarding the property’s purchase. They should provide you with information around how much you should expect to pay for their services in total, and might ask for an upfront deposit – around 10% of their fee.

The solicitor will submit requests to the local council to find out whether there are any planned works or local issues in the area that might inadvertently affect the property’s value.


two people surveying a house

The job of a surveyor is to provide a thorough inspection of the property and a detailed report based on the inspection to highlight any defects. This can also include a valuation if required. 

The surveyor will independently value the property and check for any defects that will devalue the home, such as damp issues or structural issues. There are a few surveys that might need to be carried out:

RICS Property Valuation

A RICS property valuation is an independent analysis  of a property by a RICS registered valuer. Once completed, this is followed by a detailed report that highlights the findings and provides their valuation. 

Valuations can be particularly important, as the property may be valued less than the estate agent’s valuation to put the property up for sale. Their valuation may have also been completed a long time ago if the property has been on sale for some time, so there may have been things that occurred to devalue the property since then.

At Crest Surveyors, we offer valuations backed by years of experience from highly qualified RICS registered valuers. Our RICS Property Valuation prices start from:

  • £349 for up to a 2-bed property

  • £369 for a 3-bed property

  • £399 for a 4-bed property

  • £449 for a 5-bed property

Should you wish, you can add a valuation to one of the surveys below for an optional cost of £99.

RICS Homebuyers Survey (Home Survey Level 2)

The RICS homebuyers survey is a standard report designed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The report highlights important information about the condition of a property. This assessment will cover all areas of the property, beyond what can be seen visually, with the aim of evaluating its condition and helping buyers make an informed decision.

This is a vital step in the house buying process. Once you complete your purchase, any unidentified defects are now your financial responsibility, so it’s important to identify these and negotiate the price accordingly to cover it. For example, if the identified defects will cost you £6,000, instead of having to pay that yourself, you can negotiate the price down by this amount to cover the costs.

Crest Surveyors offer a comprehensive RICS Homebuyer Survey starting from just £649. Our full list of prices include:

House / Bungalow prices start from:

  • £699 for up to a 2-bed property

  • £749 for a 3-bed property

  • £799 for a 4-bed property

  • £849 for a 5-bed property

  • Properties over £1 million are charged at a higher fee.

* Include a Property Valuation for an additional £99.

Flat / Apartment prices start from:

  • £649 for up to a 2-bed property

  • £699 for a 3-bed property

  • £749 for a 4-bed property

  • £799 for a 5-bed property

  • Properties over £1 million are charged at a higher fee.

* Include a Property Valuation for an additional £99.

For more information on what to expect from a Homebuyers Survey (Level 2), read the RICS guide on Homebuyers Surveys.

RICS Building Survey (Home Survey Level 3)

A RICS building survey contains a detailed analysis of the property’s current condition and construction. It also comes with a comprehensive report detailing the defects, repairs, and any costs associated with their maintenance and repairs. 

The building survey acts as a more detailed homebuyers survey that is designed to assess listed buildings or properties that are over 100 years old. However, there are other reasons you may want to perform a building survey instead of a homebuyers survey:

  • If the building has a history of structural damage

  • There are significant damages or defects in the property

  • If you suspect that the property might have damage

At Crest Surveyors, all of our surveyors are members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), providing you with the quickest and most cost-effective survey possible. Our RICS Building Survey prices start from:

  • £900 for up to a 2-bed property

  • £969 for a 3-bed property

  • £1049 for a 4-bed property

  • £1199 for a 5-bed property

  • Properties over £1 million are charged at a higher fee.

Should you wish, you can add a valuation to your survey for an optional cost of £99.

For more information on what to expect from a Building Survey (Level 3), read the RICS guide on Building Surveys. Alternatively, you can read our easy guide for information on the difference between valuations and surveys.


Finalise Your Offer and Mortgage

A couple shaking hands with their property manager

Once your surveys have been completed, you might need to renegotiate your offer if issues were uncovered, or the lender values the property at a lower price. This stage is generally the most stressful stage of buying a house in the UK, because there are often delays and a lot of back and forth.

These problems can include:

Rejection from your mortgage application

  • The seller withdrawing the property from the market
  • The seller accepting a higher offer elsewhere
  • The seller rejecting your revised offer

If everything has gone to plan, you can finalise your mortgage with your lender. There’s usually a fee for this called an arrangement fee, this can either be added to your mortgage or paid in advance. If you add it to the mortgage, you’ll end up paying interest on this for the life of the mortgage.

Exchange Contracts

You will then receive the contract from the seller to sign and complete the sale. Make sure that you go through the entire contract with your solicitor before signing to ensure that all the details are correct. You should also double check that you’re happy with what the sellers will be leaving in the property and that all of your questions have been answered.

You may also need to pay a holding deposit, but once you’ve covered this and exchanged contracts, the sale is ready to go! You should then find building insurance to cover the structure of the property.


Even though the contracts have been exchanged, the final steps of the process can still be stressful. The remaining money is sent from your solicitor to the seller’s, and your lender will normally charge a mortgage account fee to set up your account. Once these are completed, you’ll also need to pay your solicitor’s bill.

Your solicitor will then register the transfer of ownership with the Land Registry, as well as registering it with Land and Property Services.

You will have 14 days from the completion date to file the Stamp Duty Land Tax Return and pay any tax due. Your solicitor will usually arrange this with you, so ask if it isn’t mentioned. Once completed, that’s everything you need to do!

Homebuyers Surveys at Crest Surveyors

At Crest Surveyors, we provide RICS property valuationsRICS homebuyer’s surveys, and RICS building surveys across London and Surrey. With years of industry experience and in-depth knowledge of our local area, we work to provide you with the highest quality of service. Our surveys will let you know if there are any issues or defects with your property or potential new purchase, before you sign the contract. 

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or an experienced mover, you’ll need a Homebuyer Survey or building survey to provide you with a full understanding of the building’s current condition. Our local and affordable services are here to help you make the process simple and easy. Get in touch with one of our RICS-qualified specialists today to book your survey.

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