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understanding the homebuying process

The purpose of this page is to try and guide you through some of the main steps involved in buying a house and applying for a mortgage.  You may also find it helpful to look at some of the other pages within our mortgage tools section to the left of this page.

Talk to a Mortgage Advisor

The first thing to do when you are planning to buy a house is to make an appointment to see a Darlington Building Society Mortgage Advisor to find out how much we will lend you.  You should also have a clear idea of your outgoings so you can work out realistically how much you can afford to borrow.  

There are a number of ways to repay your mortgage and mortgage deals can vary considerably.  Your Darlington Building Society Mortgage Advisor will advise and make a recommendation for you after assessing your needs and circumstances and therefore the suitability of the mortgage.

At the start of the process of getting a mortgage your Mortgage Advisor will give you an initial disclosure document.  This provides information on the services which we can offer.  Before you complete the mortgage application process you will receive a key facts illustration about the particular mortgage product you are interested in.  

Find your dream home

Then you need to decide on the type of house that you and your family want to buy.  You need to think about such things as its age, size, the location of the property, what local amenities are close by and how easy it would be to sell in the future.

You should visit several estate agents to make sure you are covering fully the area you are looking for. Newspapers and the internet are also useful tools to help you find a property.

The estate agent can arrange property viewings and will do the bargaining between yourself and the vendor when you decide to make an offer.

Shop around for a solicitor

Once your offer for a property is accepted you should instruct a solicitor or conveyancer so that they can start the legal work.

You should choose a solicitor or licensed conveyancer who specialises in residential conveyancing.  Fees can vary considerably so it pays to obtain a number of quotes.

Your solicitor will coordinate your buying chain and conduct searches to check for anything that might affect your property.  They will also deal with the paperwork associated with paying off your existing loan and they will protect your legal interests.

Value the property

The next step is for us to instruct a valuer to carry out a mortgage valuation of the property, to assess whether or not it provides enough security for your mortgage.

You may want to instruct our valuer or an independent valuer to carry out a more in-depth inspection of the property.  The Homebuyers Report and Valuation gives you a more detailed report on particular points about the property.  

You could choose a full Building Survey if the property you are buying is very old, if it is not built from traditional bricks or stone, or if it is built in a complex or unusual way. The cost of this type of report can be quite high as a result of the amount of time spent preparing it.

Arrange property insurance

Before you purchase the property you should arrange insurance for the building and the contents.  

The valuation report or survey will show the reinstatement value of the property. This figure is not the value of the property, but it is the cost of totally rebuilding the property. Any insurance you get for the property must cover a rebuilding cost at least equal to the reinstatement value of the property.


You can visit the Association of British Insurers website to find out what your home's rebuild cost is.

You can find out more information on property insurance, and get an online quote, by visiting our insurance section.

Exchange of contracts and completion

A completion date is usually set for 28 days after exchange of contracts, though it is possible for this to be done quicker.  

It is best if you can complete selling your old home and buying your new one on the same date to avoid expensive bridging finance.  The longer the chain of buyers and sellers involved the harder it will be to settle on a date so be prepared to compromise. 

Moving in

Don’t forget to book the removal firm or hire a van for the date of the move.

You should also make sure that you have informed all service providers, such as electricity and telephone, for your old and new home, as well as telling all of your family and friends about your change of address.

You may also want to arrange for your mail to be redirected to your new home.

And finally, open the champagne and toast your new home.