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The timeline of buying a home

Buying your first home should be an exciting and rewarding journey, but it can also be quite intimidating. The road from making your first application to finally moving in might seem long, with a number of hurdles to clear along the way.

Our HSBC mortgage specialists are here to make the process of buying a home as simple and transparent as possible, so that you can focus on the more exciting part of preparing for this new chapter of your life. This step-by-step guide outlines what you should expect, and should provide a rough idea of the timeframes involved.

Please bear in mind that each mortgage journey is different. Your road to owning a home may take more or less time depending on your circumstances and the property you desire. But whatever you need, our dedicated mortgage specialists will be on hand to advise and assist throughout the process.

1. Finding the right property and obtaining a pre-approval

The most important stage of the home-buying process is actually finding a property you want to buy. How long this might take will depend on your individual needs, and what is currently available on the market that will tick all the boxes.

One very important thing you can do at this initial stage is apply for a mortgage pre-approval. This will give you an indication of how much you may be able to borrow, based on your personal circumstances and credit history.

The service is free and there's no obligation to proceed with a mortgage if you change your mind later. Obtaining a pre-approval straight away will help you to focus on properties that are within your price range. In addition, getting pre-approved for the financing you need will often make your offer more attractive to sellers. 

2. Making an offer and getting a property appraisal

Once you’ve found a property, the next step is to make the owner an offer. If they accept this, you can contact your HSBC mortgage specialist to formally begin the process.

There are a few practical things that need to happen at this point. First, your property will have to be appraised by an HSBC-approved property appraiser. This will determine the current market value of your property and flag any potential areas of concern.

The appraisal itself can generally be completed in a single day. However, finding a time that works for you, the property owner and the appraiser, plus the time after the inspection for your appraiser to compile his report, means this process generally takes 5-7 days.  

3. Instructing a lawyer

You'll also need to instruct a lawyer to prepare a sales and purchase agreement, which should then be provided to your HSBC mortgage specialist.

This can often be one of the lengthier aspects of the process, as your lawyer may need to negotiate a proposed date of sale with the current owner, which may depend on their own situation. For example, if you're buying a home from someone, and they, in turn, are buying a new place from somebody else, this can create a chain of buyers and sellers that need to move at the same time. 

4. Conducting a credit check

Once we have all the information we need from your lawyer, we'll need to carry out a full credit check before we can progress your mortgage application to the offer stage. This will identify any issues that might affect your application.

Completing a credit check is usually a relatively quick process. If there are no issues raised - such as bad debt or a history of missed credit repayments - you should expect this process to take no more than 7-10 working days.

5. Reviewing your mortgage offer and finalising the legal work

After all of the necessary checks have been completed, your application will be submitted for approval. If you're successful, we'll schedule a meeting in which you can review and sign your mortgage application and offer letter.

Once this has been completed, your lawyer should finalise the outstanding legal aspects of the mortgage and send the signed agreement to HSBC Credit Services for final closure of the documents. 

6. Confirming a completion date

Once the legal work has been processed, you should finally be ready to agree on a completion date. This is when you'll exchange contracts with your seller. On this day we'll also release the funds for your mortgage so that you can officially move into your new home! 

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