Home Buying

Buying your home is filled with pitfalls

It might have been a wet summer but it’s been a pretty exciting one with so much pomp & ceremony and excellent sport to watch on the TV and for what seems to be a surprising number of my friends it’s an even more exciting time as they are moving house. I’ve felt like their personal property consultants as they have looked for advice on their house buying journeys.

Each friend is being a different style and type of property but they all seem to have the same kinds of questions which got me thinking about the confidence you need when making one of the largest purchases of your life. Most people spend less than 1 hour in a house before they commit to buying it and in that time what can they really discover. So much of home buying comes down to an emotional reaction and a gut feeling when you walk in, but don’t let that feeling get in the way of rational analysis.

Presumably before you have even contacted the estate agent you have done your homework in terms of where you want to live, transport links, schools or whatever else is on your moving agenda.

So once you start to look around there are a few things you need to consider before you end up like Tom Hanks and Shelley Long in ’The Money Pit’.

I would always recommend a full structural survey when you are buying a house, but even then many people that complete a structural survey don’t read or understand the results. So make sure you speak to the surveyor in person if you can and understand what they are going to be looking at.

Ensure the inaccessible points will be reached and investigated such as the roof, cellar, brickwork and common areas. Someone I know conducted a home-buyers survey on a property recently instead of a full structural survey and they had to have the roof lifted and relaid 5 months after moving in all this with a 6 month old baby at home. If there is a problem you can then make an assessment before you move about what to do.

If issues arise don’t let them put you off buying a property just take steps to get better informed of the issues and what the associated costs could be. For example if damp crops up on your survey (which in most older properties it’s likely too) don’t get scared and run away. Consult a damp specialist and ask them to investigate. You may have to pay a small fee but most would be happy to investigate and provide a quote for the work. You can then use this to negotiate on your purchase price or decide whether or not that amount of work is within your budget. Don’t forget to include a budget for redecoration after any damp work.

Check gardens thoroughly and make sure you are aware of any damage caused by plants and creepers. If there are creepers on the walls ensure you remove a section to check for damage. And think about any plants you might want to remove and find out what the ramifications of this may be.

When I last moved we were advised to remove a wisteria that had overgrown. It was extremely close to the house and after we removed it the root ball shrunk and caused the house to move slightly and a crack appeared in the wall. Be wary of any trees or plants close to the house and make sure you are aware of any damage they may cause.

Check plumbing and electrics out properly. It’s advisable to ensure that the consumer unit (or fuse board as we know it) is up to date and the right capacity to hold the current electrical output and also any additions you may want to make. It’s also worth just doing a quick check on the plumbing, run the taps, flush the loo and run the shower. You want to make sure the drains are running clear i.e. the water doesn’t stand in the sink and that the shower is of an adequate pressure for you. It’s unlikely that you will be able to do anything about these things before you move, but at least you will be aware of any changes you need to make and you can allocate a budget accordingly.

Home owners want to sell their homes so once you have made your intention to buy clear they will be happy to grant you access for any investigative work or visits from experts where necessary.

At Home Jane we often provide quotes for decorating or bathroom re-fits before a property sale has gone through. This allows us to start work immediately after the sale has been completed which means that the house is empty making it much easier for us to work and also causes less disruption to the home owner.

Finally feel that gut feeling but make sure you do it with knowledge behind you so you can be confident in your decision and enjoy your new home.

For mortgage advice find more here.

Jo Behari