First time buyer guide making an offer

When you’ve found your perfect home, you’ll want to make an offer on it. But it doesn’t stop there. There’s still lots to do once your offer has been accepted. Here’s some help, so you know exactly what to do next.

What you need to know

  • You should already have your Agreement in Principle. If not, don’t worry – the previous step in this guide explains what you need to do.
  • When making an offer, remember not to go over your budget.
  • When you apply for a mortgage, you'll be able to speak to one of our mortgage advisers, who will help you choose the right rate and term.
  • It can take a month or two to exchange contracts. This can vary, depending on circumstances. Your conveyancer will be able to keep you updated.
  • On the day your mortgage is complete – known as ‘completion’ – you’ll be able to pick up the keys and move in.

Want to talk it over?

You can speak to one of our mortgage advisers in person, or chat things over on the phone.

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  • Once your offer has been accepted, you’ll need to apply for a mortgage. There are two main steps to applying:

    1. Complete an Agreement in Principle (AIP)
    An AIP will give you an idea of how much you could borrow. It should only take 15 minutes to complete and you don’t have to apply for a mortgage with us.

    Apply for an Agreement in Principle

    2. Book an appointment
    Once you have your AIP, you can speak to one of our mortgage advisers, who will help you choose the mortgage term and rate that’s right for you. They’ll also discuss your insurance and protection needs.

    You can have your mortgage appointment in branch, by phone, or by video chat.

    Contact us

  • How long will it take me to get a mortgage?

    The time it takes to get your mortgage can vary. It will depend on your personal circumstances, as there are a number of stages during the mortgage process.

    The actual time from you finding a property to getting the keys is often up to three months. It is mostly down to how quickly the conveyancer does all the legal work and what arrangements the seller has made for moving out (e.g. they might be buying another property etc.)

    What documents will I need at my appointment?

    One of our mortgage advisers will get in touch before your meeting. They'll confirm what you need to bring and can answer any questions. But most of the time, we ask people to bring:

    • ID, such as a passport or driving licence.
    • Most recent three payslips.
    • Details of any borrowing, including credit cards, personal loans, car finance, overdrafts and student loans.
    • Most recent three month bank statements which show your income and outgoings.
    • Details of home, life or critical illness policies.
    • Latest pension statement (if you have one).
    • If you’re self-employed, we’ll need your last three years tax return, online tax year overviews or accounts.
  • Conveyancing

    Whether you’re buying or selling a home, you’ll need a conveyancer to carry out the legal work for you.

    With us, you can compare quotes from up to 200 conveyancers. We base this on what's important to you – cost, location or service rating. And it will save you time getting quotes from different companies.

    You don’t have to use the Halifax Conveyancing Service if you’re applying for a mortgage with us. And just because a firm is listed with us does not mean we endorse or recommend them.

    You can use our conveyancing service to compare quotes for your legal costs.

    Valuation Schemes

    When taking out a mortgage to buy your home, we'll want a professional opinion of the property’s value. We’ll ask you to choose from two levels of inspection. Unless we tell you otherwise you will have to pay for the cost of this.

    If you require a more detailed customised report, then you may wish to consider a building survey. We do not offer these, but you can make your own arrangements to get one.

    The two levels of valuation available can rise in detail but also in cost;

    Mortgage Valuation

    • This is the minimum requirement to value the property.
    • It gives you limited information and is unlikely to highlight any defects that might affect your decision to buy the property.

    Survey and valuation

    • This is often referred to as a Homebuyers report.
    • It tells you information on things you may need to know about, such as defects and problems that are of concern or that may affect the value of the property.
    • You will receive a full report with all of the findings.

    Building survey

    • This is a detailed report that can be tailored to fit your exact needs.
    • It is the most comprehensive type of survey.
    • We cannot provide a Building Survey, this needs to be obtained independently. You can find a surveyor accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors at
    • Your chosen surveyor will discuss what kind of report you require before the survey takes place and you will receive a full report of the findings.
    • We will have no involvement in the process and will receive no information from your chosen surveyor, therefore we will still require you to choose a Mortgage Valuation through us to enable us to provide a lending decision.
    • Any questions or concerns relating to a Building Survey must be raised with your chosen surveyor.

    To get more information on the valuation schemes and their associated costs, you can talk to your Mortgage Advisor and visit our valuation schemes page.

  • Before you exchange

    As part of the conveyancing work, there are numerous steps that need to take place, such as:

    • Liaise with the seller’s conveyancer and go through all the documents sent by them.
    • Carry out searches. These usually consist of a local search and a drainage search, but other searches are common based on where the property is, for example environmental or mining searches – in Scotland this is done by the seller's conveyancer.
    • Ask the seller's conveyancer any questions that are needed.
    • Receive a copy of your Mortgage offer letter from your mortgage provider.
    • Report any findings back to you and discuss any concerns you have.
    • Ask you to sign a copy of the contract.

    You will also need to have buildings insurance in place for the day you exchange contracts. Your conveyancer will ask for proof of this.

    On exchange of contracts you must pay a deposit to your conveyancer. This amount is usually 10% of the purchase price but in some circumstances it may be lower. It is not directly related to your mortgage deposit amount.

    Once all the legal work is done and you’ve signed your contracts, then the purchase will become legal. Until this point, both the buyer and seller can pull out of the deal.

    Before you pay the deposit, check that:

    • You have the mortgage offer in writing.
    • Your conveyancer has completed all searches.
    • You understand and are happy with the contract.
    • You have agreed a completion date.

    After exchange of contracts

    Your conveyancer will still need to do some work before you get your keys, such as transferring any remaining money and arranging the mortgage deeds etc.

    The time between exchange and completion (the day you get the keys) is typically between 7 to 28 days. But this can be more, or less if needed but will depend on the circumstances of everyone involved in the property chain. You should discuss this with your conveyancer before you exchange.

    The steps involved and time may vary based upon your circumstances. For more detail on the exact conveyancing process that relates to buying your home, please speak to your appointed conveyancer.

    Once you have your moving date, you’ll want to start planning. That means arranging any removals and letting the right people know. You can find out more in the next part of the guide.

Found the property of your dreams? Then it’s time to make an offer.

Decide how far you want to negotiate. When deciding, consider the following things, so you can get the best deal for you:

  • Compare your property to others that are for sale or just sold in the area.
  • Decide on the most you can afford to pay. Remember to use your Agreement in Principle as a guide for what you might be able to borrow. Also think about the other costs of running a house, not just your monthly mortgage repayment.
  • Will you need to spend any money to make home improvements?

To make your offer, you just need to call the seller's estate agent. Follow up with an email for confirmation. Tell the estate agent about where you are in the buying process. Your offer may have extra sway because you’re a first time buyer with no chain. The agent may ask to see your Agreement in Principle and proof that you have your deposit.

The seller may accept your offer or they may want to negotiate the price. This will usually be done through the estate agent.

Remember to keep to your budget and don’t get carried away. You don’t want to end up paying more than you can afford or what you feel house is worth.

If the seller accepts your offer, by law you still don't have to buy the property (unless you're buying in Scotland). After that, you’ll need to find a conveyancer and apply for a mortgage.

Keep in mind: if you’re thinking about buying a property in Scotland, there are different property laws to England and Wales. To find out more about buying property in Scotland, you can visit the ‘Steps to buying a house in Scotland’ page on the Bank of Scotland website.

You could lose your home if you don’t keep up your mortgage repayments

The next step

Need to know what happens on moving day? Still have questions about your mortgage? We’re here to support you all the way – even after you’ve got the keys.

Book an appointment

Once you’ve got your Agreement in principle, book an appointment with one of our mortgage advisers.

Contact us

Mortgage Calculator

Use our mortgage calculator to see our current mortgage deals. You can get an idea of how much you could borrow and compare what the monthly payments will be.

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