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House buying tips

If you’re thinking of moving and it’s been a while since you last bought a property, it’s possible that you may have forgotten some of the tasks ahead in the buying process. So we’ve put together some points for you to ponder, and what to look for when buying a house.

House buying checklist

Is buying right for you?

You might have your eyes on your dream home, but it could turn into a nightmare if you don’t do your due diligence. Can you afford the mortgage payments on your new property? How much would you expect to sell your current property for? Have you got spare funds in your budget if refurbishments are needed on a new property?

Using the Just Mortgages mortgage calculator will help as you scrutinise your finances.

Work out the full cost of buying

Your new mortgage and running costs won’t be the only expenses involved when you buy a house. You also need to factor in:

  • Removal costs
  • Survey fees
  • Conveyancing fees
  • Stamp duty
  • Estate agency fees (if you are selling your current property)

Read our complete guide to the costs of buying a property.

Arrange a mortgage in principle

A mortgage lender will want to know if they will be able to lend the funds you need to complete the property purchase. This is called a mortgage agreement in principle (AIP). You will need to provide details of your income and monthly outgoings, and a credit check will be carried out. An AIP does not guarantee that you will receive a mortgage offer.

Sell before you buy

If you are selling at the same time, estate agents and vendors won’t take you seriously until you have accepted an offer on the property you are selling.

Consider resale potential

Assuming you are not planning to live in the property for the rest of your life, consider its resale potential.

Is it in a good location? Does the property have curb appeal? Are the local schools well regarded and the neighbourhood safe and quiet? Is the property floor plan or footprint of the property likely to appeal to the widest range of buyers? For example, single storey homes are very popular with both older buyers and families with very young children.

Use property search tools

Searching for properties online is your first step to finding that dream home. Most property websites will enable you to filter by price, number of bedrooms, location and property type, and you may also be able to use keywords or exclude particular property types from your search results. 

Check out the neighbourhood

You should do some research on the local area, finding out about schools and transport links. What’s the traffic noise like? Is there enough car parking? If it is a property without off-street parking, check if there are enough spaces to park, or ask the vendors if permits are needed. Are there shops or amenities within walking distance?

Ask plenty of questions when viewing

There are many important questions you can ask the vendors while viewing a property. They include:

  • How long has the property been on the market?
  • Are curtains and light fittings included in the sale?
  • What are the neighbours and the local area like?
  • Have they done any major renovations?
  • How long have they lived there?

Items to check when viewing a house

  • Exterior – are there any obvious structural problems, loose tiles, bricks or damage to guttering or pipes?
  • Interior – is damp evident anywhere? Mould and peeling wallpaper are tell-tale signs.
  • Garden – who is responsible for the fences? Is the garden north or south facing?

View at different times of day

A street may be perfectly quiet at the time of your viewing in the middle of the day, but go back during the early morning or early evening to find out how busy or noisy it is at peak periods.

Research how much to offer

Before making an offer on a property do some basic research to check how much similar houses or flats in the area have sold for. You might find that you can offer less than the asking price and save yourself several thousands of pounds! There are lots of tools to find out this information on property websites.

Ask the seller to take if off the market

Once your offer has been accepted make sure you ask the vendor or their estate agent to take the property off the market. This will ensure that a rival offer cannot be placed, and confirms the vendor’s word of mouth agreement to sell the property to you. However, it does not guarantee that the sale will proceed, or that ‘gazumping’ won’t take place.

Get fixtures & fittings in writing

The vendor’s solicitor will have provided a “fixtures and fittings” document that the vendors should complete. This document sets out to you, the new buyer, what the home comes with and what the current owners intend to take with them. So if they plan on leaving their dishwasher that will save you the expense of disconnecting and moving your current one.

Instruct your solicitor or conveyancer

After your offer has been accepted it is time to instruct a conveyancer to act on your behalf in your property transaction. They will liaise closely with your sellers’ solicitors to finalise the draft contract, resolve any pre-contract enquiries, obtain copies of any existing guarantees and planning consents, and conduct local authority searches.

Get the right survey

Before you buy a property you should arrange for a survey. A survey will tell you if a property is a good investment, or whether there are structural faults or significant problems you should address. There are four different types of survey:

  • Valuation report – the most basic survey, required by all mortgage lenders to establish that the property offers sufficient security to cover the loan
  • Home Condition report – assesses the condition of the property through a traffic-light system to highlight any areas of concern
  • Home Buyer’s survey – a more thorough survey of the fabric of the property which goes into greater detail about the condition of windows, walls, doors, roof, stairs and exterior features. This is the most popular survey chosen by homebuyers
  • Building survey – ideal for very old or run down properties, this offers the most thorough examination of a property’s condition and construction.

Get home insurance quotes before buying

Mortgage lenders will usually make it a condition of a mortgage agreement that buildings insurance is in place before exchange of contracts. Shop around for the best insurance quotes.  

Compare removal costs

Get a few quotes from local removals companies. Ask friends and family if they can recommend a company, as you want a firm you can trust with your belongings. They will usually want to come and visit the property you are moving from, so that they know what size van and how many staff they will need on the moving day.

Contact your local haart branch to find your perfect property