estate agents
buying a house

Our Surbiton Sales Manager, Suzanne Morgan, is here to help de-mystify the process by answering your most frequently asked questions about buying a property.

How long should I expect to have to look for the right home when buying for the first time?

It depends on the research you have completed prior to viewing as a buyer. Many buyers know the area they wish to buy and usually have a connection of varying degrees to the location. You may walk into your first viewing and fall in love with your new home but also want to view others to compare which can add to the time it takes to make a decision.

It really does vary from individual to individual but we usually see buyers view 3 - 10 properties before committing. A lot of first-time buyers like a second opinion so bring a friend or a family member with you if you would like that morale support. It’s a big decision but it is made so quickly when you see the right one.

What fees are involved with buying a house?

When you’re considering your budget for buying your first home it’s important to remember that there are plenty of other costs

Stamp Duty. You will pay Stamp Duty on properties costing more than £250,000 for residential properties unless you're a first-time buyer. In that case if your property costsless than £425,000, you will not have to pay any stamp duty. If your property costs between £425,001 and £625,000, you'll have to pay a rate of 5% for the remaining part.

  • Mortgage fees.
  • Surveyor's/valuation fee.
  • Legal fees including disbursements e.g. land registry, search etc.
  • Estate agent's fee.
  • Insurance.
  • Council Tax.
  • Moving costs: remember to include packing items, removal van costs and cleaning services into your budget.
  • VAT on many of these costs


What should I look out for when buying my first home? Are there any common pitfalls a buyer should be aware of?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your solicitor and estate agent. When we work with our buyers we’re with them throughout the process, so if you are in doubt about the legal process and timescales etc just ask. You’ll see from our google reviews that our job doesn’t end when you find the right house - we’re with you all the way!

When it comes to securing a mortgage we’d recommend trying to have as little credit as possible as lenders will investigate this. To get the best mortgage possible make sure to take financial advice and look at a variety of lenders to get the best for you.

Plan for your search before even stepping through the first door. Speak to a financial adviser, research Rightmove and Zoopla about the area you wish to buy in and look at previous sales. When registering with an agent give them as much information about you as you can. The more we know about your search criteria, individual circumstances and life plans the more we can match the perfect property to you. We are here to work with you as a team and to find you your dream home.

It’s easy to get excited when you’ve found your dream home. However I’d recommend not giving notice if you are renting until you are 100% sure on an exchange and completion date. If you have somewhere to go temporarily then this may work for you but do not make yourself homeless.

What should I tell/ask my estate agent to make sure they understand what I want from my new home?

At HJC we like to get to know our buyers so the more you share the more we can match you to the right property. Time is precious to everyone and wasting a buyer’s time looking at the wrong property is frustrating for the buyer and the owner too. When you meet with your agent consider sharing with them:

Time scale: when do you need to find by? Do you have a deadline in mind for when you;d like to be in your new home?

Budget: Sharing the price you’d like to pay and also the price you could stretch to for the right property will be really helpful for your agent to make sure that we’re including the right properties in your viewings.

Your must haves and nice to haves: Who is the property for and what do you need in order to call a place home e.g., parking, close to train, office space, garden etc. The more detail we have the better for everyone.

Talk to us: Share with us any properties you like the look of, even if they are no longer on the market, and always give feedback after a viewing. It helps us build more of a profile for your search.

Ask lots of questions: If you don’t ask you won’t know and we are here to answer all your questions. Viewings are usually only 20-30 minutes so do your research before you view and come prepared.

Advise us when it’s best to contact you: If, for example, you are a teacher and cannot take calls at certain times of the day tell us and we will make a note. We don’t want to disturb you when it's inconvenient and if you never answer we will conclude you have found a home already.

Your current situation: Let us know where you are living and whether you’re in a rental property with a notice period. Knowing how flexible your current living arrangements are will help us negotiate during the buying process.

Paint us a picture: We love getting to know our buyers and the more you tell us about you, the better we’ll get to know you and be able to match you with your dream home.

For more advice and helpful tips on buying a home, take a look at our other blog posts here.