Getting to know the local agents
Get to know your local estate agents and make sure they understand exactly what you are looking for. Be proactive, too - chase them every now and again. This will make sure you are at the forefront of their mind when a new property comes to the market.
Line up a good solicitor from the outset. Get recommendations from friends, family, colleagues and even local estate agents. Don't necessarily opt for the cheapest either - it could prove to be a false economy. Keep in regular touch with them.
Arranging your finances
Research what mortgage deals you can get. Price comparison websites can be a great resource if you have the time to keep checking them. Alternatively, find a good mortgage broker - seek recommendations from friends, family and colleagues. Winkworth recommend Trinity Financial - click here to read more about their services.
Make sure you have a written 'in principle' mortgage offer from the start, as this can really speed things up once you have an offer accepted. Likewise, you'll be in a much stronger position if you find yourself in a bidding war with a buyer who doesn't have their financing in order.
Set a budget for the entire process and stick to it. There are many other costs to consider outside of buying the property itself. Think about stamp duty, solicitor's fees, removal costs, any work that may need doing on the property, the first month's council tax and utility bills, possible service charge and ground rent etc.
Do your research
Fully research the area you are interested in buying in. Think carefully about the things you need and the things you would like, such as good local schools, transport links, green spaces, shops etc. Research the types of properties that are available in your price range and be realistic about your expectations.
Try to be as flexible as possible when it comes to viewing times. Evenings and weekends may be best for you, but possibly not the seller. It might be worth taking a day or two off work and lining up multiple viewings. Be punctual for all your appointments, otherwise you risk missing your slot and annoying the seller, who is likely to have gone to some effort to get the property ready for you.
View the property three or four times and do so at different times of the day, so you get a real feel for what it is like.
After the viewing, be sure to give the estate agent some honest feedback. That way, they get a better idea of what you will and won't accept. Keep an open mind though; very often, people end up buying something that is very different to the 'dream' home they imagined.
Making an offer
When you make an offer, make sure you let the estate agent know your position, like how flexible you can be on moving dates and whether or not you have a mortgage offer.
If you really love the property, try not to make very low offers that will no doubt be refused. You could end up annoying the seller and this might make future negotiations that bit harder.
Book a survey as soon as your offer is accepted. These can take a few days and you want to keep the process moving.
Although it's an additional cost when you're already throwing money about left right and centre, a survey could identify any serious problems with the property and ultimately end up saving you £thousands.
Try to avoid moving on a Friday. The roads tend to be busier and removal firms often charge more because Fridays are the most popular time to move. If you can, take some time off work and move mid-week.