If you are planning on buying a new property, then first things first; you've got to get your investigative hat on and be sure to ask the right questions!
We know how overwhelming it can feel when you are house hunting and so we've created an easy checklist that you can tick off as you go to make sure you ask the crucial questions before you buy your home. So whether you are a first-time buyer, second-time buyer, esteemed house purchaser or simply looking for your dream home then check out our easy and downloadable guide below so that you don't miss a trick in the search for your new home.
In a hurry? Click here to head straight to the bottom of the page to sign up for your free downloadable guide.
1.Location, Location, Location.
Always remember, it's better to be the worst house on the best street rather than the best house on the worst street. Not only is it great in terms of house pricing, but it will also mean that you are likely to end up on a street that is safer and better maintained.
2. Local Schools
Location is everything. Make your list of priorities, for example, good schools ( check out the OFSTED reports here), commuting, countryside views, great pubs, good sized garden size. The key is to pick your top 3 musts and then a few more desired (but not essential) points.
Once you've done this, take a score for each house you visit. This will help keep you focused on your objectives and not too distracted by the lovely interiors. Interiors can be changed, the location cannot.
3. Meet the Neighbours.
You will get lots of honest information from the neighbours so definitely knock on their door and get the down low on the house you are looking at. You will also get a chance to see who you will be living next to.
It's also a perfect opportunity to see what condition their houses are in and see what can be done, for example, conversions or changing windows etc. If they have got a conversion on their house you will likely be able to do the same.
3. Think to the Future.
It may just be you or just you two now, but take it from us, things move on fast! Where will you be in 5 years time? And, what will you need space for?
Depending on their age your family may be increasing or decreasing as they fly the nest.
4. Have a really good nose about
We mean it, open every cupboard and door and use your nose while you do. It is hard to hide the smell of damp or sewage problems. If you smell something not quite right definitely ask about it.
5. If in doubt get a survey done.
Old houses have cracks - yes, we know but are they serious? There is only one way to find out - bring in the experts. If you fall in love with a house and have any reservations at all, we suggest having a survey done. It is expensive but money very well spent - you will not regret it.
Plus it will come in very useful when it comes to a time when you want to sell.
6. Which direction?
Be sure to view the house at different times of day to ascertain where the sun hits the house. You will learn which rooms get the sun at different times. If you love nothing more than sitting in the evening sun, then you'll need a South West facing garden.
Other, essential property viewing things to check include, the areas wifi coverage, council tax band for the property, parking permits (if applicable).
7. Community Pages on Social Media
Check out any local gossip pages or community to groups on Facebook. This is an unfiltered way to really get to know the area. But, be cautious too. Every area will have at least some minor problems - there is no perfect city, town or village!
8. Crime Checker
If you are moving to a new area then crime checker is a great way to double check that nothing serious is going on in the new location.
9. Wifi Coverage
We live in a modern world and so essentials like wifi need to be considered. This is especially important if you work from home. Here is a handy wifi coverage checker that you can view here.
10. Transport Links
If you commute by train or bus, then it goes without saying that you'll want to make sure that the local transport links are good.
To the window, to the walls!
When you first walk into your prospective property, you want to keep your eyes peeled for potential concerns. We know that this may sound a little negative, but it's important to not get totally carried away by how beautiful the interiors are. By downloading our checklist and ticking off the important steps outlined below you will be safe in the knowledge that you've got it all covered.
1. Doors and Windows.
When it comes to the doors and windows on your house viewing checklist, what you really want to look for is the seals of the doors and window frames and any signs of water damage.
Questions to ask yourself include:
- Are the doors weatherproof?
- Do the doors open and close properly?
- Is there any damage to the window frames showing evidence of water damage?
Another important thing to consider is the views from your windows.
Questions to ask include:
- What do you look out upon?
- Are you overlooked by neighbours?
- Can you walk around in your pants? Live a free life?!
2. Walls and Ceilings
The four walls surrounding you are the very foundations of your home.
Things to consider include:
- Check for water damage.
- Check for cracks in the foundations
- Do the walls need painting?
- Are the walls soundproof?
- Do the walls appear straight? (obvious, but very important!)
Flooring can be incredibly expensive to replace. If it's a doer upper, try lifting the carpet when no one is looking to see what's under the carpet.
Things to ask yourself include:
- Are there any visible signs of water damage.
- Does the floor cave in slightly?
- Can you lift up the carpet to have a sneak peek under the floor?
- Ask to move any rugs, as it could be obstructing damage underneath.
When you are looking around your potential property, don't be afraid to test the electrics. If the home hasn't been lived in for some time, the electrics may be off, but otherwise, you should be able to switch the lights on and off to check for any lighting issues.
- Check for visible faulty wiring.
- Flick the light switches on and off.
Make sure you also consider natural lighting too! Here are a few essential questions to include in your house viewing checklist:
- Is there enough natural lighting?
For older properties, in particular, you will need to be mindful of how the house is insulated. Living in the UK, we know how cold and wet it can get during the winter months and so we want our homes to be cosy respites. So make sure that the windows and roof are properly insulated and if not negotiate this when making an offer.
Things to consider when viewing the house include:
- Are the windows double glazed?
- Is the roof properly insulated? (Your energy bills will be costly in the winter if not).
Be sure to check that there are no pressure or plumbing issues.
Things to check include:
- Running the taps to check the water pressure.
- Flushing the toilets to check for any backup or plumbing problems.
7. Loft / Attic
Make sure you check behind boxes piled against walls as this could be concealing water damage. You can always request that the boxes are moved for your second viewing. This is not an unreasonable request and if you're made to feel otherwise, proceed with caution.
Things to consider include:
- Is there any evidence of water damage?
- Are they any visible cracks of holes?
- Are there any signs or droppings from little creatures, such as mice or rats?
8. Storage Space
Take inventory of how much storage space there is. We're not suggesting that you dig around cupboards, but it is very helpful to note how much storage there is in each room.
Questions to consider:
- Is there enough storage space in the bedrooms? This is particularly important for small bedrooms.
- Is there extra loft space or cupboards under the stairs?
- Does the kitchen have plenty of cabinets and cupboards to cater to your families size and needs?
If you're not planning on renovating your new bathroom, then make sure you fully inspect and take photographs of the bathroom to ensure that it's fit for use.
Questions to ask yourself include:
- Is there enough cabinet and storage space?
- Is there any evidence of mildew and mold?
- If there are no windows in the bathroom, check for extractor fans.
Repairing the roof of a house can be very costly, so make sure you take inventory of this and ask lots and lots of questions to ensure that there are no issues.
- Are there any loose tiles?
- Any visible holes?
- Have any of the gutters come loose?
- Does the roof appear to be uneven?
- When was the roof last replaced?
If you're fortunate enough to have parking included with your new property then you'll need to make sure you research tha
Questions to ask yourself include?
- If you have a driveway is there enough room for your cars or on-street parking if not?
- Are there any cracks in the driveway foundations?
- If you have a garage, does the garage door open and close properly?
3. The Garden
Your investigation doesn't just end at the house! Make sure you check out the garden space too.
Here are important aspects to consider:
- Does the drainage slope away from the house?
- Are there any right of ways or is there public access to your garden?
- Trees. As beautiful trees are, they can totally mess with your foundations and, sadly, mortgage companies don't like that at all! So be sure that there aren't any trees around or near the foundations of your home.
- Japanese Knotweed. Be warned -don't touch a house with it! If a house has Japenese knotweed you may not be able to get a mortgage. Or, even worse, you may not be able to sell the house if you want to in the future!
And, that's it!
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