A. If you have another property to sell, then the first thing you need to do is put it on the market. As a buyer, whatever the state of the market, it is always better to be either completely unencumbered or at least well on the way to selling. Besides, it will also make it easier to work out your budget.

Next, house-hunting. These days, most people conduct their initial searches via the internet, and registering with agents online is pretty straightforward. But remember, they’re not all the same. Even though you’re a buyer rather than a seller, you still want personal service and a good working relationship. So – everything else being equal – the best agents to register with are likely to be the ones who take the trouble to reply with a phone call, rather than just an email.

Before registering, however, take the time to establish clearly in your own mind exactly what you’re looking for – and make sure you explain those requirements fully. Also, make sure to give the agent all the information you can regarding your own situation, financial and otherwise.

When it comes to checking out individual properties, be selective – otherwise you risk wasting a lot of time and effort, most of it your own. Go and inspect your chosen properties - preferably in the company of the agent, and always in daylight. Write a list of all the questions you want to ask the seller, and make your own notes afterwards, so you can review them at your leisure. Lastly, be patient. This is the biggest investment you will probably ever make – at least, until your next move! – so don’t rush.

When you eventually find the property you want (a second viewing is always a good idea, to confirm whether your initial impressions still hold good), then make a formal offer through the agent.

Assuming your offer is accepted, then it ought to be plain sailing from here on – so, the main thing is simply to make sure that the agent continues to keep you fully up to date on developments at every stage.

Nevertheless, it’s probably worth keeping your fingers crossed as well!