Buying your first property is bound to be one of the most exciting yet nerve wracking experiences you’ll go through in life. On the one hand you’ll have the chance to make a place your own and will feel a great sense of satisfaction and security in owning your own home, but on the other hand you’ll likely be feeling overwhelmed with responsibility and stressed about the amount of money this purchase is going to cost.


But have no fear, Lisa’s Law is here! Sure, the process is scary but many of the best things is life do not come easy! If you read this article you’ll be very well informed on how the process works and what you can do to make it easier on yourself.


When is a good time to apply for a mortgage?


You should definitely get your mortgage application sorted before your house hunt officially begins. If you were to find a perfect property that matched everything you were looking for in your new home, but you hadn’t gotten anywhere with your mortgage application, it is likely that your dream house will get snapped off the market by someone else with a more solid mortgage plan.


Having a mortgage application in place before you go shopping around for houses is also a good way to establish some personal guidelines. For example, you’ll have a much better idea of what your budget is, so narrowing down options becomes a lot easier to do.


Mortgage agreement in principle – what is it and do you need one?


An agreement in principle (AIP) is how your chosen lender/bank will tell you how much money you will be able to borrow from them during the purchase of your property.  They will take some basic information and perform a credit search and credit score before coming up with a figure that ‘in principle’ they will be able to provide you with. An AIP doesn’t take very long to get and will often be completely free of charge.


The benefits of an AIP are that it makes you stand out as a more appealing buyer, as you have gone an extra mile in the purchasing process and have some proof to back up your financial standing.


It will also leave you in a better informed position about what price range you should be looking at, saving you any chance of being disappointed or wasting too much time looking at unrealistic options.


What are the main types of mortgage?


While there are a lot of different mortgage options available, there are to main ones to keep in mind. These are a fixed rate mortgage and a variable rate mortgage.


Fixed rate mortgage:


With fixed rate mortgages, the interest rate of the loan remains the same for the length of your agreement. Lenders/banks often offer fixed rate deals of between one and five years, although some lenders may offer a longer period of ten years.


A positive aspect of a fixed rate mortgage is that the monthly repayment does not change even if the lender’s interest rate changes. This can be helpful for budgeting your finances and means you know that you will not be getting any surprising increase of charges at any point.


However, the disadvantage of a fixed rate is that if the lender’s interest rate falls, the borrower will not be able to benefit from lower repayments. As the interest rate on the mortgage is fixed, longer deals may have higher annual percentage rates than shorter deals. This is so lenders can compensate for the money they may lose on monthly repayments should interest rates rise.


Fixed rate mortgage deals can also include penalties for ending the agreement early or overpaying – but not in all cases, it is always best to check this before signing anything.


Variable Rate Mortgages


Variable rate mortgages offer a fluctuating interest rate over the duration of your mortgage, which can change the amount of your monthly repayments. With this type of mortgage, you would need to prepare for the possibility of their monthly repayments increasing if the interest rates rise – but they may also consider the possibility of their payments decreasing if the interest rates drop.


Having consistent communication with your lender is essential on this type of mortgage, so be sure to keep in contact so you are aware of any impending changes.


A step by step walkthrough of the mortgage process:


  1. Prospective buyer contacts the bank/lender directly to obtain a mortgage agreement in principle.
  2. The bank/lender will request for some information regarding the client’s income and expenses.
  3. The mortgage in principle is provided by the lender and will give the client a rough idea about the total loan they can get.
  4. With the mortgage in principle, the client can start looking for a property within their budget.
  5. Once the offer for a property has been accepted by the seller, the client will update the bank or broker with the offered price and tell them the address of the property and the details of the solicitor handling the case.
  6. The bank or broker will request for more documents for the mortgage application which include the proof of income. This can be 6 months’ worth of payslips, proof of the source of funds for the down payment such as gift letter, proof of savings etc.
  7. Once the documents are satisfied, the bank/lender will arrange for a valuation report to be commissioned (to check everything is fine with the property).
  8. Note: the bank will only request for a simple valuation report. The client may consider carrying out a full building survey which includes the structural survey if the property is aged or the condition is poor.
  9. The bank will then issue a formal mortgage offer for the client to read through, agree to and sign. Mortgage offer is issued to secure the loan.
  10. The same copy of the mortgage offer will be sent to the solicitor working with the buyer.
  11. With the issuance of the mortgage offer, the broker’s work is done. The remaining work will be carried out by the solicitor to secure a safe draw down (aka completion of the deal).
  12. The solicitor will advise the client on the contents of the mortgage offer and loan agreement. They will carry out the searches such as local authority search, drainage, environmental etc. At the same time, the buyer’s solicitor will deal with the seller’s solicitor to finalise the contract and raise enquiries if the search results show any discrepancy from the info provided by the seller.
  13. Solicitor will then provide a report on searches and enquiries to the client and also the bank and to confirm the date of completion.


After these steps have all been completed and all parties are in agreement then the process can begin, whereby the buyer will usually move into the property and start paying the monthly mortgage repayments until the house is fully paid off.


If you need any help with mortgages or have any questions about the process, we are always here to help. You can reach us on 020 7928 0276 or email in to


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