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What are the Different Ways to buy a House?

Written by Reviewed by Emma Lunn

1st Apr 2020 (Last updated on 2nd Jul 2020) 6 minute read

There are several ways to buy a house with no one method that suits everyone. These include buying on the open market via an estate agent, at an auction, or using a government scheme.

Compare My Move work with the best property experts in the game to help keep you informed throughout the buying process. This guide will explain in detail the many ways to buy a house. From buying a house at auction to using a Shared Ownership scheme, we cover it all. 

Here Are Some Different House Buying Options:
  1. 1. Buying A House Through an Estate Agent
  2. 2. Buying A House At Auction
  3. 3. Buying A House With a Help To Buy or Lifetime ISA
  4. 4. Buying A House With Shared Ownership
  5. 5. Buying A House Using Right-to-Buy
  6. 6. Building Your Own House
  7. 7. Buying A House With Another Person
  8. 8. Buying Off-Plan
  9. Save When Moving House With Compare My Move

1. Buying A House Through an Estate Agent

Buying property via an estate agent is the most common method of purchasing a house. Doing so means you’ll be buying through “private treaty” with the deal negotiated between buyer and seller.

Buyers will put in an offer via the estate agent marketing the property. The purchase price can then be negotiated with the estate agent acting as a go-between. 

Having a mortgage in principle in place at this stage can help negotiations as it shows you are a serious buyer.

You’ll need a conveyancer to help you with the legal side of the transaction, so when you’re ready to make an offer on the house, make sure you compare conveyancing quotes to ensure you’re getting the best deal. 

2. Buying A House At Auction

Auctions are a popular way to buy and sell non-traditional and unusual properties, those needing renovation work and properties that are unmortgageable. 

Buying and selling at auction is becoming increasingly popular, with Auction House recording a record year for sales in 2019. They sold more than 3,800 lots throughout the UK last year, an increase success rate of 77.3% from the previous year.

When you buy a house at auction, you will avoid being part of a property chain, which usually slows the buying process down. In recent years, auctions have become popular among many buyers as the sale of the house is agreed on the day, avoiding the chance of being gazumped.

Ideally potential buyers would get a survey done on the property they are interested in before the auction.

Remember to factor in your property survey costs to your moving house budget.

3. Buying A House With a Help To Buy or Lifetime ISA

There are a number of government schemes buyers can use to help them get onto the property ladder. A Help to Buy ISA and Lifetime ISA are just two of these options. 

Buying with a Help to Buy ISA

One of the best options for first time home buyers is to use help from a government scheme. Although the scheme is now closed, those with a Help To Buy ISA open can still take advantage of the 25% government bonus until 1st December 2030.

This Help To Buy scheme allows first-time buyers to save up to £200 a month towards their first home. The government will top up your savings by up to £3,000, with the minimum bonus you can receive being £400.

Buying with a Lifetime ISA

The Lifetime ISA (LISA) is a government savings scheme that helps British residents save for their first home or for their pension. It allows you to save up to £4,000 every tax year with a 25% government bonus on top - the maximum amount for this bonus is £1,000 a year. 

The interest for the LISA is tax-free, as it is for any other ISA. The government bonus means that for every £4 you put into the Lifetime ISA, the government will put in £1. Your deposits are capped at £4,000 per tax year until your 50th birthday. Any UK resident aged between 18-39 can open a Lifetime ISA.

4. Buying A House With Shared Ownership

The Help to Buy: Shared Ownership scheme is another government scheme that is ideal for people struggling to afford to buy their first home. You must not already own a home and have a household income of less than £80,000 a year to be eligible for the scheme, or below £90,000 if you live in London.

The scheme allows you to purchase a share of your home, whilst paying a discounted rate rent on the remaining share. You’ll have the option to purchase a bigger share of your house at a later date. The scheme has low deposit requirements of 5%, helping people who struggle to save a bigger deposit.  

There is also the option of a shared equity loan where you pay a small deposit and use an equity loan to top it up. To find out which is best for you, you can read our article debating shared ownership vs shared equity for more information. 

5. Buying A House Using Right-to-Buy

Right to Buy is a government scheme to help council tenants buy their home for a discounted price. The discounted amount is up to £80,900, or £108,000 if you live in London. 

Similar to Right-to-Buy, the Rent to Buy scheme also help council tenants buy their first home by offering more affordable rent. The idea is to use the money saved on discounted rent towards your house deposit. 

6. Building Your Own House

Whilst this option is not suitable for everyone, you can build your own house as a way to get on the property ladder. To build your own house, you’ll need to purchase land and gain planning permission as well as paying for fixtures, fittings and materials. If you plan and budget carefully, building your own home could work out more affordable than buying a property via an estate agent or developer. 

Building your own home will give you more freedom to create your dream home, more affordable Stamp Duty charges and the option to reclaim VAT for your labour costs. However, the process of building your own house will take significantly longer than the traditional way of buying a house, so remember to factor in a longer timescale when weighing up your options.

7. Buying A House With Another Person

Buying a house with someone else is a great way to buy your first home. Whether it’s your partner, a friend or family member, purchasing a house with another person is an easy way to save on the cost of buying a house. There are joint mortgages available to help with buying a house with a friend or partner

There are two ways to own a house with someone else:

Joint tenants: 

This type of agreement is more suited for married couples or long-term partners. It allows you both to have equal rights to the property and if one person dies, the other will automatically inherit the property.

Tenants in common:

The tenants in common option is suitable for buying a house with friends or family and means each of you will own a different share of the house. Couples might buy as tenants in common if they have contributed different deposit amounts. Tenants in common means you can choose who you leave your share of the property to when you die. 

8. Buying Off-Plan

Buying off-plan is when you purchase a new-build property before the developer has even finished building it. With some properties it’s even possible to buy at a discount before construction work has actually begun. It can come with a variety of risks, but can also mean a smaller deposit of 5% or more. You may have the opportunity to customise some elements too, such as non-standard fixtures and fittings. 

Getting a mortgage for an off-plan property can be difficult and the buying process can be a little complex so it’s important you do your research before committing to the purchase. Many developers will want you to have a mortgage agreement in principle before you exchange contracts and so it's important to be prepared before continuing with this option. 

Save When Moving House With Compare My Move

When you’ve decided on the best option to buy a house, make sure you compare your solicitor fees, property survey costs and removal costs with Compare My Move. We have a network of verified and trusted conveyances, property surveyors and removal companies all across the UK to help with your house move.

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.

Emma Lunn

Reviewed by Emma Lunn

Freelance Personal Finance Journalist,

Emma Lunn is an award-winning journalist who specialises in personal finance, consumer issues and property.