Buying a house is the biggest purchase of your life, and small mistakes can be very costly. Here are some of our top tips.
THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU REALLY NEED
This may sound obvious but it's all too easy to get carried away with dreams. So before you go out on a viewing be sure to make a list of all the important aspects of a property that are important to you, and write down the questions you want to ask — as it's easy to get distracted.
FIND OUT ABOUT THE AREA
Even before going on a viewing you can look at the property and the area. You can get a first impression for how the property looks from the road as well as the neighbourhood itself, and assess things such as traffic noise, parking, the area at different times of day, how far the schools are, transport routes, and local facilities.
WHAT’S BEING LEFT
Remember to ask the current owner what they will be leaving behind as part of the sale. Items such as carpets, light fittings or kitchen appliances might be included or you may be able to negotiate for them. Buying everything all at once can be expensive and time consuming. On the other hand you don't want to be left with bulky items you then have to pay to get rid of!
SCUTINISE THE OUTSIDE AS WELL AS THE INSIDE
When buying a property remember to check the outside of the property carefully so that you have a good idea of the condition of the house. Check for loose or missing tiles and damaged, blocked guttering. Don’t be afraid to be meticulous during the viewing; you need to be fully knowledgeable on the condition of the house you could potentially be purchasing. A detailed survey will give more accurate information on its true condition and allow you to create a plan for any repairs or improvements you will need to make, but taking a detailed look around initially will help you decide whether it's even worth putting an offer on and paying for a survey.
INTERNET & PHONE SIGNALS
What's the internet and phone signal like at the property you're thinking of buying? There will be nothing worse than having to go half way up the garden or lean out of the bathroom window just to receive a text message. And the kids will make your life miserable! With the majority of the country well provided for signals are something buyers overlook. Can you make a call during the viewing? Does your signal keep cutting out? Try out different areas of the property when you do your viewing.
ASK ABOUT THE NEIGHBOURS
Find out about the neighbours. Ask about who lives upstairs, downstairs, next door or down the street and if there have been any problems or disputes.
ASK ABOUT THE PLUMBING HEATING AND ELECTRICS
How old is the boiler and when was it last inspected? When was the house last rewired? If there's a real fireplace, is it safe to use? Older houses can often have fewer wall sockets so that's something else to consider. Finding out the answers to these questions early on will help you understand if there are likely to be expensive additional costs or work that will impact the decor e.g. chasing out walls for additional sockets and even how you would use rooms.
LOOK OUT FOR STAINS AND PROBLEM AREAS
Heavily textured wallpaper or wood chip is sometimes used to disguise damaged walls and will often take half the plaster with it when removed. Rugs can be used to cover stains or damage to carpets and floors. While it’s not always possible to determine what’s underneath it's worth being aware that there could be problems and additional costs or replacements that will impact the decor and your moving in plans.
VET THE SELLER
It’s not always the case that you will meet the seller but if possible it’s worth doing so that you can gauge the type of person you are buying from. Do they come across as honest and reliable? Or are they indecisive and likely to hold the process up for months? We’ve all heard of sellers who have put their house on the market just to test interest, a buyer makes an offer then is kept hanging around for months only for the seller to take the property off the market because they didn’t really have any intention of actually selling and a whole chain of people is left stranded.
AVOID KITCHEN AND BATHROOM NIGHTMARES
In the kitchen imagine preparing dinner and in the bathroom imagine getting in and out of the bath or shower. Is there enough room and enough work space? This may seem over the top and a little mad but these are important rooms and they are not always set up practically.
And finally, don't rush the viewing. Obviously if you just don't like the property there is no point wasting time scrutinising it but if the property is a serious contender for your new home TAKE YOUR TIME and view more than once. This is an huge purchase and it's important to be sure it's the right one and you know exactly what you are taking on.