Our recent podcast series on the Home Report covered what you should look out for on paper but what about the actual buying process itself? Where do you even start?

Whilst there is a huge amount of information readily available in the media regarding the property market, in general there doesn't seem to be a straightforward guide to what buyers should be doing and what they should be watching out for. This factsheet should take you through the buyer's process/minefield in a straightforward manner.

Morton Fraser's Simple Steps to Buying Residential Property…

The Criteria

Wish list

It's important, at the very start, to sit down and think about what exactly it is that you want from a property. The best way to do this is to split up these requirements into 'musts', 'preferables' and 'bonus features', that way when you go to view a property you'll be able to check off which requirements it fulfils and what might be a deal breaker in an otherwise 'perfect' property.

Location

You may or may not have an ideal location in mind but have you taken into consideration the property prices in this area or even the drawbacks; is it within an easy commute to schools or work?

What might seem like the perfect place to raise a young family might not be so perfect when you become a taxi service to teenagers or find yourself in an isolated area as you grow old!

DIY

Don't overestimate your DIY skills. A lick of paint is very different to rewiring an entire property! If you find a property that is in need of repairs beware of the planning and building control requirement of any alteration or extension. Also keep in mind conservation areas and listed buildings as this may significantly impact on what you can do to your property even down to the colours you can paint it. These factors can also influence the cost of carrying out these repairs/alterations.

If you do wish to take on a property that needs maintenance carried out, remember to budget, budget and then recalculate! You don't want to get half way through a job to then realise that your money has run out, or that you have in total spent more in buying and doing up your property than it is now worth.

Compromise

No two properties are the same and it is quite rare that a particular property ticks all the boxes on your wish list and meets your price and location requirements. This means an element of compromise is essential and is where having a wish list can come in handy.

Planning your Finances

Finance/mortgage

Along with talking about your wish list of requirements in a property it's important to figure out your finances at an early stage. Find out what is available to you and what you can afford. A financial advisor will be able to talk and guide you through this process.

Budget

When it comes to budgeting it's important to be realistic. Think about how much you can afford in terms of monthly mortgage payments, a deposit, and all the costs and fees associated with buying and owning a home.

Also don't forget to budget for the actual cost of the move: removals, stamp duty, etc.

Finding the right agent (fees)

You usually get what you pay for - you may think that you're saving costs but you don't want any problems when it comes to moving day.

A good agent will be worth their fees when it comes to selling and buying and often will obtain a better sale and purchase deal that more than covers their outlay, but a poor agent is expensive no matter how low the fee is.

The Search

Finding a property

If you've not bought in central Scotland before, you might be wondering where to even begin looking for your dream property. We would recommend checking the listings in ESPC or GSPC (depending on your area) and perhaps also checking S1 Homes.

Viewing properties on the internet or in print is really no substitute for seeing them in the flesh though, so why not take a walk around the area you're looking to buy in and look for For Sale signs?

Viewings

When it comes to viewing a property it's best to go back more than once and at different times of day to get a feel for the property and area. It's also a good idea to take a drive, or even walk, around the local area so that you can form your own opinion rather than relying on what others may say. Testing out the morning run (to work or school) is another way to get to know if the property is right for you.

Take the Home Report with you and talk through any issues that have been highlighted in it with the seller. Look beyond the décor; why's there a newly painted patch on a wall? Don't be afraid to pick up on things and ask questions, the seller should be happy to answer your questions. You certainly shouldn't feel embarrassed about opening and checking inside cupboards for any hidden problems; buying a property is likely to be the biggest purchase you'll ever make!

Surveys

Take time to read the Home Report for each property - and question them! As well as guiding you in your viewings of properties, this may also save you wasting your time viewing unsuitable properties. For further information and advice on what to look for in the Home Report, listen to our podcasts.

Remember, depending on the style age and value of the property it may be in your best interest to commission your own independent survey/valuation.

The Offer

Stamp Duty

Remember: the increase in percentage goes on the whole amount not just the amount above the new band.

Don't forget to include this in your budget!

Making an offer

Don't get carried away - upping your offer by £10k might not seem like much but it will impact on your budget and if it's over the Home Report valuation won't have been included in your mortgage offer.

At this point it might be tempting to agree a price with the seller yourself or even contact their agents yourself - our advice would be 'don't' - let your agent handle this. After all, they are the expert and will be able to keep any emotion out of the transaction that might otherwise creep in without their supervision.

Our advice is to clearly calculate what the property is worth to you. Try and do this dispassionately, and work out what it is worth to you, not what the valuation is nor what someone else might pay. Every situation is different and what you're prepared to pay may be higher or lower than the property valuation. Once you have decided, keep that figure in mind; if you don't get it as a result of another party entering a higher bid remember it wasn't worth that much to you and move on to the next property. Ultimately it is your decision in regards to how much you want to offer for a property or how much you're prepared to go up to, but listen to you agent - they work in this market every day.

Panic

Simply - don't! If you make a realistic offer and the seller doesn't accept, don't panic, and resist the temptation of going go straight back in with a higher offer. Let them stew. Stop and think about the top figure it was worth to you and discuss your next move with your agent, whether that be a higher offer in line with your strategy or deciding to walk away and look for something else. It is really easy to get drawn in and end up overpaying.