Buying a home, whether it’s your first time or not, is a daunting process for anyone. The worry of making the wrong choice can plague our minds for months and making that wrong choice could end up costing us a lot of money and the enjoyment of our homes. We all hear horror stories from friends and family about ill-thought property purchases, forgotten possessory title indemnity insurance, Land Registry applications turning up requisitions, nightmare neighbours and fault boilers, but what are the key things to consider when buying a house that are commonly overlooked?
Sometimes a deal may look too good to be true, so it’s worth doing some proper investigating.
These are stipulations written in the title deeds of a property that prevent the owner from certain things. This could be anything from no pets to not running a business from the property. Your conveyancer should flag these up in the early stages but this is often after offers have been accepted and surveys may have been completed. You may wish to pull out of the purchase if any restrictive covenants will prevent you from enjoying the new property and your funds may have been wasted. Ask the estate agent during viewings for a copy of the title deeds and ask a solicitor to look over them before making an offer.
Surveys do provide an insight into the condition of the property but the roof is not always included. A typical roof has a lifespan of 15-20 years, ask the vendor when it was last replaced and if there have been any repairs during their ownership period. Take note of this and consider having a survey done on the roof, you don’t want to move in and discover that thousands need to be spent on the ageing roof.
Are there any rooms or buildings that don’t look like they belong to the original structure, such as loft extensions or conservatories. If planning permission wasn’t sought, you could be liable. Even if the current vendor didn’t make the alterations, they should have a paper trail from previous owners. If planning permission can not be proved, make sure the vendor agrees to pay for lack of planning permission indemnity insurance, otherwise, you could be out of pocket in the future.
New builds are infamous for this but homeowners can also be crafty with staging. Fancy furniture and high-tech appliances can cause us to be blinded to the structure. Remember, when you purchase a home, the furniture won’t come with it. Take the time to look past the general aesthetics of a property and look at walls, floors and ceilings. Large items can sometimes be deliberately placed to hide imperfections, there’s no harm in asking for it to be moved so you can get a full view.
This is overlooked by so many homebuyers and can have one of the biggest impacts if not correct. Just because there is a modern shower unit installed, it doesn’t mean the water pressure is great. Ask to try the water pressure while viewing, vendors and agents shouldn’t be opposed to this and it means you can gauge what it’s like easily. If you fail to do so and you have to fix this after buying, it can be incredibly costly.
While you can easily see the garden when viewing, how many of us actually think about the space in depth? The garden could be beautifully landscaped and looks incredible, but this comes with a lot of care, time and effort. Are you willing to put this effort in to maintain it? If you fail to do so, the outside space can quickly become unsightly and no longer enjoyable. Although a perfect garden is desirable, sometimes a patio and gravel will suit you lifestyles better.
The world is online nowadays and it can be incredibly frustrating not getting a great signal while out and about, let alone in your new home. When thinking about placing an offer, call your broadband supplier and check they can provide a good connection in your new potential postcode. It isn’t just remote areas that fall victim to poor broadband speeds so always check. When viewing a property, use your phone to make phone calls, texts and use apps. A good mobile signal and 4G connection is also crucial and you won’t realise how much it can impact you until it’s too late.
Checking out the neighbours is good for two reasons, firstly, unruly neighbours can make your life a nightmare. What’s worse is knowing that once you have moved in, there is nothing you can do about them. An elderly couple are more likely to be pleasant neighbours than a student property. If you are a night owl and prefer to make noise after dark, having small children next door could cause problems. Avoid neighbourly disputes by choosing the right ones. Knock around and introduce yourself while viewing, the neighbours can be a great insight into the neighbourhood. They won’t be trying to convince you to buy the property so they will be honest with their answers if you do have any questions.
You have a mortgage in principle and have found your dream property, now everything is sorted right? Not always. Just because you love a property, it doesn’t mean your mortgage provider is willing to lend you the cash to purchase it. Lenders see a property as an investment and if they don’t believe they will get a return on that investment, they won’t payout. Every provider has different stipulations but common properties that won’t be mortgageable are character homes, flats above commercial properties and leaseholds with less than 80 years. Don’t get caught out with these factors that could easily be checked. Making a purchase on a new home is the biggest expense many of us will ever make, so we need to make sure it’s right.