Army & You kindly asked us to answer the above question as part of their "Our Experts" section in their Summer 2015 edition. You can read the article below.
Taking action early is important, the mortgage process can take a while and it is typical for a purchase transaction to take a number of weeks to complete. Doing as much research as possible will arm you with all the knowledge and tools that you will need to make applying for your mortgage easier.
Having a good search on property websites will offer you a broad view of what is currently available in the market. Have a look for the type of property that you would like and see what is available within the area you are relocating to. This is also a good way to help you understand what price range you can work within and how much you will need to borrow.
Use a budget planner to go over your finances so you know exactly how much you will need for your moving costs. Don’t forget the cost of removals!
Look for help from companies that offer whole of market advice so they can identify the most suitable solutions for you and also those that are not tied to a particular mortgage company so their advice and recommendations are based on your individual needs.
A company that has experience dealing with the military would be extremely beneficial so they understand your situation and in particular the challenges you can face if you have been in BFPO for some time. It is important to check whether they charge fees for their service also, sometimes these can be quite high but there are companies that do not charge for their advice.
Familiarise yourself with the options that are available to you like Forces Help To Buy, which is a scheme aimed purely to assist military employees to get moving quicker by providing financial support for your deposit. If you do not have a solicitor, you will need to do some research and find one that is suitable to your needs, to apply for the Forces Help to Buy scheme you will need a solicitor.
Searching for a mortgage can be challenging but if you do some research and get as prepared as you can before you apply, the process will become much more manageable.
What experience have you had trying to get a mortgage before your return to the UK?