Buying a house can be a stressful business that can involve months of viewings, offers, counter offers, surveyors and solicitors. Not to mention that it’s most likely going to be the biggest financial outlay that many will ever commit to!
This means that it’s imperative to make the right decision!
Below are several things to consider when identifying and viewing your potential new home.
What to look for…location
Location is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a house as this can affect everything from the quality of schools and healthcare available right down to the cost of your car insurance. To see just how much a postcode can affect you premium click here.
When identifying an area in which to live it’s a good idea to have a good look around at various times of the day and night to get a real feel for the place and identify any potential problems.
For example, nearby railway lines and main roads can cause problems through excessive noise and traffic congestion and, if near an airport, it’s also worth checking if the area is under an airplane flight path.
Also check out the local amenities, such as shops, leisure facilities, pubs and restaurants and be aware that, although it’s often practical to have these facilities close to hand, places such as pubs and restaurants can bring problems such as excessive noise and anti-social behaviour.
In addition, it’s a good idea to get a feel of how friendly the local community is and try to find out how the local crime level rates against the national average. These figures can be easily obtained on websites such as upmystreet.
It’s also worthwhile checking out the geography of an area to ensure that there are no developments in progress that could lower property values and that there is no risk of flooding.
What to look for…the property
Once you have identified a suitable area it’s time to start looking for a property and, again, there are a number of factors that should be considered before making a decision.
Firstly, you need to make sure that the property meets your needs and, whilst there are some things you can compromise on, you need to make sure that there is sufficient room for yourself, your family and your furniture.
In addition, is there enough storage space? This is something you need to be aware of particularly when viewing new build show homes as vendors often employ interior design tricks to make them appear more spacious than they actually are.
Then you need to consider any structural issues such as signs of subsidence, damp or rot. Tell tale signs of subsidence include major cracks in walls and doors sticking in their frames whilst damp can be identified through peeling wallpaper, watermarks or mould. Also check window frames for signs of rot, if the paint around the sills is flaking and you can easily push your finger into the frame then it is rotten and will need replacing!
You also need to check out if the property needs updating and, if so, how much this will cost. For example, check the light switches and plug points and if they appear to be very old there’s a good chance the place will need re-wiring. The cost of this can vary dramatically depending upon the property so it is always best to price up these jobs, or consider whether you can do them yourself, before making an offer.
This may sound obvious but it’s always best to arrange viewings to take place during daylight hours. This makes it easier to spot potential problems and will also give you an idea of how much natural light the property benefits from.
In addition, it’s always best to take someone with you as they may be able to offer a different perspective on the property and might also be able to pick out flaws that you might otherwise have missed.
Always take your time when looking around a property, making sure you thoroughly check every room and don’t be afraid to question the seller. If you have any doubts over any aspect of a property it’s always best to just be blunt and raise these concerns so you are armed with all the facts before making your decision.
And, when making your decision, take the time to weigh up all the pros and cons and make an informed choice on whether or not to go ahead. There’s a chance that the vendor may try to pressure you into making a decision, particularly if they are desperate to offload the property, so make sure you’re aware of this and don’t fall into the trap of rushing into a decision.
As stated above, be sure to ask the seller as many questions as you possibly can so you can make a truly informed decision on whether or not to make an offer.
A good starting point is to ask the seller why they are selling up and then move on to questions about the neighbours and the area in general to try and identify any potential problems.
Try to clarify what is included in the sale from external factors such as land and garages to any built-in furniture, fixtures, fittings and carpets. This is important as it has been known for buyers to enter their newly bought home only to find that the previous owners have taken everything from the carpets to the light bulbs!
Find out how much the annual council tax bill is, how much the monthly gas, electricity and water bills are and whether any energy saving work such as loft and cavity wall insulation has been carried out.
In addition, ask questions about the heating system and the boiler. For example, does the whole property benefit from central heating and is the water heated by a combination boiler or a tank? And, whilst on the subject of the boiler, how old is it, have there been any problems with it and when was the last time it was serviced?
If the property has been extended or modified in any way be sure to inspect the relevant planning and building control consents and also find out if the building is listed or in a conservation area as this will have an impact on any future alterations.
Make an offer..?
Once you are satisfied with the property you have viewed it’s always a good idea to have a look around other properties in the area, if only for the sake of comparison.
But if you have your heart set on the one place then it’s time to make an offer, and that’s where the hard work really begins. A great deal of patience is required at this point as, even if the seller accepts your initial offer, you still have to go through the process of dealing with solicitors, surveyors and the plethora of paperwork they bring with them!
At the very least this process will take 12 weeks but, at the end of it all, you should have the keys to your dream home!
Article written by Les Roberts, writer for Moneysupermarket.com Moneysupermarket.com.