Checklist for first-time buyers

20th December 2017

Buying your first home is a rewarding yet complex process. There are many points to consider in order to ensure a smooth and successful move.

From saving for your deposit to picking up the keys, our property experts are here to offer their expert advice. We’ve brought together a comprehensive guide to the entire buying process, so you can stay in the loop from start to finish and make your home-owning dream a reality.

1. Budget thoroughly

There are many costs to take into account when buying a house, and it’s important to budget before you start house-hunting so you have a realistic idea of what you can afford. 

Consider your deposit, your mortgage, and up-front fees such as stamp duty land tax and fees for valuation, surveying, conveyancing, and transferring funds.

If you are a first-time buyer purchasing a property worth £300,000 or less, you won’t have to worry about paying stamp duty. If you’re paying between £300,000 and £500,000, you’ll pay stamp duty at 5% on the amount of purchase price above £300,000.

Figure out your stamp duty with our handy tool, and get in touch with our independent financial advisor with any questions you might have about mortgages, fees and budgeting.

2. Sort your mortgage

Seek professional advice as soon as possible, and start your mortgage application process. This will put you in a far stronger position for negotiating to buy a property. Make an appointment with a financial advisor to discuss mortgage types, and find the right option for your situation.

Our mortgage specialist Graham Griffin CeMAP can meet you at any of our branches to explain how much you can expect to borrow and what your monthly repayments might look like.

3. Start your search

Your estate agent can help you narrow down your options to the perfect property, but it helps to come to the table with a good idea of what you’re looking for.

Write a list of the areas you’d most and least like to live in, taking into account commute, schools, and local amenities. If you’re moving somewhere unfamiliar, take the time to visit a local estate agent and ask about areas that meet your requirements.

This is also the time to list your “must haves” and “nice to haves” when it comes to the property itself. Consider number of bedrooms and bathrooms, parking, outdoor space, and accessibility. Ask yourself how long you’d like to spend in your first home, and ensure you search for a property that can grow with you and your family.

4. Get acquainted

Take this chance to get to know the areas you’re considering moving to. Spend a day strolling around the area taking in the scenery and getting an idea of the local community. Drop into a local pub or cafe, and imagine yourself as a local. Check out transport links, or work out how long it would take for you to walk or cycle to work.

Our team is made up of proud Brighton and Hove locals, happy to share their knowledge. Check out our area guides for an introduction to Brighton’s varied and vibrant communities, from Lewes Road and Hove to Fiveways and Woodingdean.

5. Make the most of viewings

A viewing offers a very brief window of time to inform a big decision. Make the most of every viewing by bringing your list of requirements, and coming equipped with any questions for the estate agent showing you around.

Make sure you attend viewings with a partner or friend - an important question or observation might slip your mind, but two pairs of eyes are better than one. Plus, you can bounce ideas around for potential renovation and redecoration as you go.

Above all, be thorough. Check the property for signs of damp such as peeling paint or tide marks above the skirting board, have a peep under the sink, and ask if you can view any loft or cellar space. This may seem excessive, but it could save you a lot of time and money when it comes to surveying and insurance.

6. Make an offer

Found your dream home? Then you’re ready to make an offer. Before you jump into negotiations, however, it’s worth asking yourself some questions. 

Be realistic about whether the property meets all of your requirements. It might have stolen your heart, but it’s important to take a step back and carefully consider all the potential implications of purchasing your new home. If after this it still feels right, you can move forward with the confidence that you’re making the right decision.

This is also the time to consider your own negotiating position - as a first-time buyer, you’re not in a chain, so if you have a pre-arranged mortgage offer, this could be the difference between a seller jumping on your offer or overlooking you. Check the seller’s status, and work out how long the property’s been on the market for. If sellers are keen for a quick sale, they may be willing to accept a lower offer.

7. Solicitors and surveyors

Once you’ve made your offer and had it accepted, you will need to contact a solicitor or conveyancer. 

It’s important to work with a reliable conveyancer, who will keep you updated at every step. We’ve joined forces with two of Brighton and Hove’s leading conveyancing companies, giving you the option of efficient, transparent online communication throughout the process.

Your solicitor or conveyancer will conduct searches with the local authority and Environment Agency, ensuring that there are no major problems with the property.

Your lender will also require a mortgage valuation from a surveyor, to check any superficial issues with the property. You may have the option to upgrade this valuation into a full survey, which will give you peace of mind about any hidden difficulties before you sign.

8. The big move

Congratulations, you just bought your first home! Make sure moving-in day goes as smoothly as possible by planning ahead. 

Pick a moving date and get quotes from removals companies. Find out what’s included in each quote - some companies offer packing materials and insurance as standard, whereas others require you to arrange these yourself.

Inform utility companies of your change of address. Arrange final meter readings and request final bills for your current home. Arrange to have mail redirected.

Make an inventory as you pack, clearly labelling each box with its contents. Keep one box aside for things you’ll need immediately in your new house. We recommend a kettle, teabags and mugs as a good place to start.

Once you’re moved in, it’s time to relax, enjoy your new home, and congratulate yourself for successfully getting your foot on the property ladder.

Ready to own your first home? Contact our friendly local property experts today.


  • A good team at Woodingdean helped us through a stressful time.

    Mr & Mrs Penton Sycamore Close

  • We were delighted with the service received from all the staff with whom we had contact,

    Dr Crichton The Ridgway

  • Very impressed with the service. Sharon Wareham works tirelessly, very professionally and is always there for advice. 

    Miss Matthews Kipling Avenue

  • As always, an excellent service. 

    Mr & Mrs Field Lewes Road

  • The staff were very helpful, an excellent service. I would recommend you to others.

    Miss Hockly Fiveways

  • Paul was absolutely brilliant. 

    Mrs Tasker Fiveways

  • Sold within 2 weeks for asking price "excellent!"

    Mr Grundy Bishops Road

  • Maslens as a whole were really friendly and professional. I have to thank and congratulate Paula Carter for being superb at her job and exceeding m...

    Ms Warren Hove

  • I wish we had used you to sell our property! Nice to meet honest people, who are genuinely interested in helping. Very pleased.

    Mrs Porter Taunton Road

  • A very committed team who made the sale process very easy.

    Ms Rees Ticehurst Road

  • Compared to your rivals, your service was excellent

    Ms McGrigor Milner Road

  • Ben was particularly enthusiastic and helpful. Martin, Paula, Sam and Will are all hard workers.

    Ms Goodey Franklin Road

  • Great service, always polite and friendly. Excellent contact and info all the way.

    Mr Wells Bishops Road

  • Fantastic service. By far the best agents we have ever used, I cannot recommend you highly enough.

    Mr Field Mafeking Road

  • Quality advice about when and how to sell, which was spot on. Thank you.

    Miss Coleman Buller Road

  • Paula was fabulous and we felt really informed and supported. 

    Mr & Mrs Walker Lewes Road

  • Cannot express our appreciation enough of all the efforts made by the Woodingdean team - they were fantastic.

    Mr John Mogridge Woodingdean

  • Our local office manager, Sharon Wareham was warm and friendly and kept us up to date at all times.

    Mr Hope The Brow

  • I was new to the area and viewed a lot of properties with a lot of different agents. Maslens were by far the best I came in contact with, so when i...

    Mr & Mrs Heer Lewes Road

  • We were very impressed with the Nick from start to finish. 

    Mr & Mrs Smith Lewes Road

  • It was a long, drawn out process that the people at Maslen helped me through, without the impression that it was a chore. So extremely professional...

    Mr McLagan Lewes Road

  • Thanks for an excellent service. 

    Mr King Hove

  • Very pleased with the experience. I would definitely recommend you and use you again.

    Ms D Edmonds Horton Road

  • Service exceeded my expectations overall at all stages of the process - I wouldn't hesitate to recommend you. Thanks. 

    Ms Greene Lewes Road

  • The whole team were excellent, each one of them felt like family. Sharon had a lot of sorting to do at times but coped very well, a true profession...

    Mr Vernon Woodingdean

  • Very helpful and patient team.

    Mrs Shea Selborne Place

  • Best Agents in Brighton.

    Mrs Field Tarner Road

  • Sharon was amazing! She kept us up to date the whole way through the process. We cannot fault Sharon or the rest of her team. 

    Mr & Mrs Ashley Woodingdean

  • Excellent customer service throughout. I will definitely recommend you, and use you again. Thank you.

    Ms Longley Kingsbury Street

  • Thank you for everything!

    Ms Tucker Willow Close

  • Very thorough & very informative.

    Mr Michnowicz Waldegrave Road

  • The whole team were very committed from start to finish.

    Mr Pilgrim Lewes Road

  • Paula was absolutely amazing!

    Mr & Mrs MacKay Lewes Road

  • Very impressive - professional and friendly, both Martin Timms and Paula Carter were excellent at keeping in contact with sensible advice based on...

    Mrs O'Connor Hove

  • Thank you Maslens, you were all excellent!

    Miss Jasper Taunton Road

  • Very professional service. Thank you!

    Miss New & Mr Jackson Buller Road

  • Graham Griffin provided us, and continues to provide us, will all-round excellent advice. We trust his knowledge and expertise.

    Mr Blackmore & Ms O'Sullivan Financial Services

  • I have bought and sold 7 properties, and this was the best experience of an estate agents services I have found.

    Mrs Shepherd Hertford Road

  • You were amazingly helpful throughout - a real pillar of strength with a very difficult sale.

    Mrs Parkin Fiveways

  • A very positive experience - I had most contact with the Fiveways office and they were so friendly and helpful.

    Ms A King Balfour Road

  • Exceptional service throughout the process - should we decide to sell in the future we wouldn't hesitate to use your agency. You're a cut above the...

    Ms Windels & Mr Barham Fiveways

  • In February 2016 I was looking to buy and sell very rapidly. Competition among buyers at the time was very high. Sharon @ the Woodingdean branch sh...

    Ms Helen Lyons Woodingdean

  • A really good experience.

    Mr Tibble Lewes Road

  • It was an amazing experience, everyone involved were fantastic. 

    Mr & Mrs Knight Woodingdean

  • Very happy with the service we got from you guys, everyone we dealt with was extremely friendly, professional and helpful. Thanks!

    Mr Brown Titian Road

  • First class service. Friendly and professional.

    Mr Thorne The Avenue

  • Brilliant. Well done to Sharon and the Woodingdean team.

    Ms Curtis The Ridgway

  • The team worked very hard over a long period to ensure my sale went through - excellent service!

    Mr Patrick Gladstone Terrace

  • An efficient, professional and friendly service. Helpful and a pleasure to do business with.

    Mr Beddington Brading Road

  • Harvey was helpful and easily reachable at the beginning of the process and Sharon kept us informed and was always happy to help.

    Ms Murch & Ms Mapa Ticehurst Road

  • Thanks David, all very professional.

    Mrs Flowers Foxdown Road

  • The sale was dealt with swiftly, professionally and successfully. Thank you Maslen!

    Mrs Lincoln Hove

  • Paula's role was brilliant. Having someone office based and available was so appreciated and her promptness an impressive service - every Estate Agent...

    Ms Wynn-Jones Baxter Street

  • Sharon, Harvey and James were all excellent - very professional. Totally opposite to what I have experienced with other agents. Maslen have restore...

    Ms Lyons Woodingdean

  • Many thanks to Nick. It was an easy process thanks to you! I'm extremely satisfied with how the sale went, great job.

    Ms Mayanobe Aymer Road

  • Excellent Service from start to finish.

    Mr T Mole Cromwell Road

  • Very impressed with the efficient and friendly service, the staff were a pleasure to deal with. 

    Mr & Mrs Gill Lewes Road

  • A completely painless experience from start to finish. Thank you.

    Mr Woolven & Mrs Bessant-Woolven Lewes Road

  • From start to finish the sale was dealt with in a thoroughly professional manner.  

    Mr Gibbs Lewes Road

  • Sharon was excellent - kept us well informed, thank you so much!

    Ms Waters Cowley Drive

  • All agents at Maslen were extremely helpful and polite from the beginning to the completion of sale. 

    Mr Johnson Fiveways

  • Please thank Paula at Lewes Road - Excellent service. 

    Mr & Mrs Nuthall Lewes Road

  • I would recommend Maslen to anyone. 

    Mrs Tripp Woodingdean

  • Nick and Paula are total stars! They were incredibly supportive and present throughout. Thank you!

    Miss O'Haire Hove

  • The Woodingdean team were very friendly and approachable.

    Mrs Palmer Pitt Gardens

  • Very comprehensive and professional. Nice people to work with and highly recommended. 

    Mr Alderton Ladysmith Road

  • I found the service to be courteous, friendly and efficient.

    Mr Upton Buller Road

  • Sharon was excellent, she kept us informed at all stages and was a really calming objective influence in the process.

    Ms Frederick Channel View Road

  • Outstanding service from Sharon. James is an asset to Maslens & Harvey was so helpful and polite.

    Ms Cianchetta Selhurst Road

  • Very pleased with the excellent service throughout. Professional, friendly, efficient and no hard sell. Achieved above asking price. Thank you!

    Mr Witten Lewes Road

  • Best Estate Agents ever experienced - professional, approachable, competent and exemplary. 

    Mr & Mrs Guest Riley Road

  • We were very pleased with services provided by the Fiveways office.

    Mr & Mrs Sawyer Shaftesbury Road

  • Thank you Paul and Archie, you gave an excellent service, as well as Kelly. I look forward to working with you again. 

    Mr White Fiveways

  • Very impressed with all dealings with Maslen. Paula Carter was in particular very knowledgeable and helpful. 

    Mr McBlane Hove

  • Very good service and communication. Paula was excellent.

    Mr & Mrs Scarboro 1 Pevensey Road

  • First class service from a first class team.

    Mr & Mrs English The Ridgway

  • Superb service as usual, I would always recommend you.

    Ms S Hike Blackthorn Close

  • Paula is amazing!

    Ms Aspnall Gladstone Place

  • Very pleased with the service. Many thanks to Sharon and the boys!

    Mr Flynn Woodingdean

  • All very professional, kept updated throughout. Very pleased - Would recommend. 

    Mrs Hammond Hove

  • Paul Wilkinson was extremely helpful and efficient. The only problem was the vendors solicitor and Paul warned me of this. A good transaction all r...

    Mr Lavender Fiveways

  • Very, very happy we chose you, felt right from the start! Thank you!

    Miss Blackadder Coniston Court, Holland Road

  • All the staff I dealt with were excellent. Sharon worked really hard to complete the sale.

    Mrs Bent Falmer Gardens

  • Already recommended you! Thank you.

    Mr Edwards The Ridgway

  • Excellent service from the Lewes Road branch. Martin Timms secured a quick sale & at a good price & Paula Carter worked really hard to secure...

    Ms Schulte Bear Road

  • Hugely impressed with Ben & his team.

    Mrs Mead Upper Lewes Road

  • Good team. Straightforward. No nonsense.

    Mr Standing Newmarket Road

  • Extremely efficient. Nick and Paula are excellent. The weekly phone calls were much appreciated. 

    Ms Gray Lewes Road

  • Excellent communication and advice throughout. It felt very reassuring to be in good hands.

    Mrs Brooker Buller Road

  • We cannot recommend Maslen's estate agents enough.

    Many thanks to Paul, Donna, Janette and the...

    Linda & Les Wigmore Close

  • Excellent service as always

    Mr Field Ringmer Road

  • Sharon and her team could not have done more in what was a difficult sale. 

    Ms Daly Woodingdean

  • Ben and Paula were calm and reassuring throughout a very difficult process!

    Ms Easterbrook Bear Road

  • Thank you. We found all the staff knowledgeable and really pleasant to deal with. 

    Ms Ansloos Lewes Road

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