Get a mortgage in principle. We went through London and Country (recommended by Money Saving Expert) and ended up going through them to get our actual mortgage with the Bank of Ireland. Couldn’t find a better deal on the market and they are super helpful and you do everything over the phone / email and they don’t make you feel like totally thick twats. They will help you work out a budget and what you can afford.
Meanwhile: book property viewings. Work out if things go for more / less than the asking price. Register with agents. Look at Zoopla for actual prices and what things have been sold for recently.
You will also need to work out the extra cash you need. Stamp duty. Legal fees. Survey. All the other shit like moving, budgeting for decorating and stuff. This turns out to be a fucking load of money, nearly 15k for us on top of the deposit.
When you’ve found somewhere you like you’ll need to put an offer in. At this point some agents may ask for a holding deposit, I can’t remember if ours did. They will also need to see your mortgage in principle and maybe other documents and they might do checks on you. This is the point, when your offer has been accepted, that you need to go ahead with properly applying for the mortgage and getting a solicitor.
For us, the survey was arranged via our lender, who we paid extra to for getting the Homebuyers Report, so we didn’t need to bother finding our own surveyor. Be prepared to investigate further any problems which might come back from that.