Use a local solicitor
For some reason (alright, there's probably a very good one) solicitors insist on posting a lot of documents, using a local solicitor will mean you can collect and drop things off when necessary and cut out postage times. They also have better local knowledge and often a good relationship with your estate agent which can help. It’s best to try and find someone who has been personally recommended – by a friend or relative, the ones recommended by either your mortgage company or estate agents might not be the best. Get quotes from at least two as well, to check they’re reasonably priced.
Don't start 'moving in' emotionally
Sorry this is a bit of a depressing one, but until you actually exchange contracts there is still a lot that can go wrong. By all means celebrate your accepted offer, but I wouldn't recommend buying your paint. It's hard not to start planning and buying bits, especially when you're a first time buyer, but it makes it much worse if things go wrong (trust me on this!). Take it one step at a time.
Shop around for insurance quotes
Don't just take the home, contents and life insurance offered to you by your mortgage provider. We'd got to the point of being bamboozled by all the little costs associated when buying a house (lots of them, like particular searches and reports you have no choice over) so it's easy to get stuck into saying 'yes' just to keep the process moving. But set one evening and do some comparison quote searches for your insurances. You'll most likely find a better deal by going direct to a company rather than through your mortgage provider.
I'd love to hear any more tips you might have, leave them in the comments. Up next – moving day and what not to do (learn from our mistakes!). Don’t forget you can also look back at three things I learned when searching for a house.