The steps to home ownership with Catalyst

Buying your first home with Catalyst New Homes

Buying your first home is an exciting personal milestone – from browsing online to discover what’s on the market, to trialling different restaurants to see what could be your new local, it’s a moment people wait their whole lives for.

However, finding the right home for you involves a number of important decisions along the way, which can feel overwhelming without the right support on hand to help guide you through.

Leading housing association Catalyst are here to help, with a whistle-stop tour of some of the key stages to buying your first home.

With their large range of developments across London and the South East, many of which are available through Shared Ownership and Help to Buy, Catalyst have helped thousands of first-time buyers find a home they love.

Step 1: The journey begins

The first steps in the journey to home ownership are some of the most essential. Before the search begins, buyers will need to assess their financial position and ascertain the best route on to the property ladder for them.

Alternative home ownership schemes such as Shared Ownership and Help to Buy are great routes for first time buyers who may otherwise be priced out of the property market. Shared Ownership is a part buy, part rent scheme that allows buyers to purchase a percentage share of the property’s value, rather than having to purchase the full market value.

Help to Buy is another Government-backed scheme that helps first time buyers onto the property ladder. Through Help to Buy, the Government lends up to 20% of the cost of your newly built home, or 40% if in London, supported by a 5% deposit and a mortgage to make up the rest.

Speaking to an independent mortgage advisor is often the easiest way to identify the best route for you. They will be able to help buyers understand how much money they could borrow, as well as what mortgage options are available. Buyers who have already found their dream home can ask their housing provider if they have a panel of recommended mortgage advisors. These experts are often specialists in new-builds and have likely helped buyers in a similar position, so they can be best placed to assist.

Catalyst has a fee-free arrangement with their preferred panel mortgage advisors meaning that buyers can benefit from these services at no additional cost.

The advisor can also help purchasers to secure a mortgage in principle. This is a statement from the lender outlining how much they are prepared to lend, subject to the approval of the property. Having this in hand will help show that you are prepared to buy and can afford to do so.

The Switch by Catalyst - available on Share to Buy

Step 2: Let the hunt begin!

With a budget in place, it’s time to start the most fun and exciting part of the journey – the house (or apartment!) hunt!

It can be difficult to narrow down the number of homes to visit, so it’s good to have a list of ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice to haves.’ These could include a spare room to turn into a home office, a private balcony to convert into an outdoor sanctuary, or proximity to a tube station – work out what is really important to you.

Visiting a show home is a fantastic way to get a feel for how new homes will look once complete. Many house builders use interior designers to decorate their show homes to show how the space will function as a home. On a tour of a show home, it is important to keep logistical aspects in mind such as storage space, natural light and outdoor areas.

The Printworks by Catalyst - available on Share to Buy

Step 3: Found the one? It is time to reserve!

Once a buyer has found the home of their dreams, the next step will be to reserve the property and pay the reservation fee. Once the reservation has been accepted, it will be time to apply for a mortgage. A mortgage advisor will be able to help complete the application and advise on the best mortgage product.

The mortgage lender will conduct a valuation on the property in question and check over all of the documentation. When the application has been approved, they will issue a formal mortgage offer.

At the same time, the purchaser will need to instruct a solicitor to support with the legalities of buying your home. The solicitor will be the go-between for the buyer, the mortgage lender, and the seller. Their primary role is conveyancing, meaning the legal transfer of a property from one party to another.

Once all parties involved in the sale are happy, it’s time to exchange!

The Lanes by Catalyst - available on Share to Buy

Step 4: Time to move!

Exchanging contracts is the point at which the buyer and seller are both legally bound to complete the sale. Before exchanging, make sure:

  • The mortgage offer is in writing
  • The solicitor has completed all their work
  • The contracts are fully understood and agreed to
  • There is an agreed completion date.

Now the countdown to move-in begins! It’s time for the final bits of preparation, such as booking the removal service, speaking with utility companies to transfer their services, and most importantly, preparing for life in your new home.

Nova at Queensbury Square by Catalyst - available on Share to Buy

Catalyst will be exploring the steps on to the property ladder in more depth in a webinar on Thursday 8th April. Register for a place here!

To find out more about Catalyst’s latest developments across London and the South East, visit:

Share to Buy is a one stop shop for affordable homes. On our website, you can search for propertiescompare mortgages and find out all you need to know about alternative home buying schemes such as Shared Ownership and Help to Buy.