Your perfect home
Before you have even chosen your first house to view, it may be worth spending time creating an image of your perfect house. Make a list of the various features you want your perfect house to have. These features should cover the obvious criteria such as the size of the house and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms but also criteria relating to the environment in which your house will be located as well as special needs that will relate only to you.
“The number of rooms requires careful thought: do you have guests to stay often or do you need extra space for children’s friends? If you work from home then a separate office is crucial. In fact, the top end of the market often requires two home offices.”
Plan your day
Do not try to see too many properties in one day. It takes time to view a house properly and viewing too many will make you tired and irritable and make the whole process much more stressful. It may also make you overlook a potentially great house, simply because it happens to be the last one you arranged to view on a particular day by which time you are simply fed up of the whole thing.
“Allow enough time to properly view each property. Talk to your estate agent about the best way to plan your day’s viewing. Take time to view each property and don’t be afraid to ask the owners or the agent to revisit rooms.”
Don’t be embarrassed about asking direct questions. Buying a house is a huge investment and you will regret not asking something if it turns out to be a problem later. However remain friendly towards the owners because if you do decide to make an offer, the whole process will be made easier if there is a good relationship between owner and buyer.
“Keep the lines of communication open with your estate agent and try to be as flexible as possible when it comes to viewing property. Developing and maintaining a good relationship with agents is paramount and in a competitive market, it will stand you in good stead and may mean your are at the front of the queue when something new comes onto the market.”
Eyes open for problems
Be wary of problems such as damp and even if you can’t see it, you can sometimes smell a musty smell, which is a strong indicator that there is damp around. The seller may also try and hide imperfections and common problems can include painting over damp patches, putting furniture in front of cracks and using rugs to hide any floor issues.
“Don’t necessarily be put off buying the property if you do spot any problems during the viewing. Get a professional opinion to work out how serious they are and use this information to negotiate on price.”
Ask for the history
Ask for the sale history of the property as it might give you indicators of any past problems. Find out how long has it been on sale, have there been offers, if so, have any been withdrawn and why? Has it had a full survey? Prepare questions and your own list of minimum requirements.
“While you need to have the full details of the property you are hoping to buy, it is also important not to forget to have your own details up to date. In a fast moving market, it is important to have your mortgage in place and be as ready to go as possible because if more than one person makes an offer, buyers are more likely to go with the person who can move the fastest.”
Older homes tend to have bagged the best locations. Many have larger rooms, more storage space and larger gardens than their more modern counterparts. However, there are potential problems that you need to keep an eye out for. A chocolate-box cottage or a Georgian gem is truly gorgeous but before taking a step inside, look up to the roof. If there are any missing or slipped tiles or slates or the flashing looks like it might need repairing you may want to think twice about making an offer: re-roofing is a expensive and disruptive business.
“In older homes, there can be problems with electrical installations that do not meet today’s standards. Because much of the wiring will be hidden under floors and behind skirting boards, it may be impossible to see some things, but if sockets are the old-fashioned two-pronged variety (which do still exist), or any visible wiring looks damaged, rewiring will certainly be required.”
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