Things to consider when looking to buy a house
Buying a house is an exciting step in your life, but it is also one of the biggest financial commitments to will ever make most probably. Therefore, you have to make sure you do it right – taking into consideration everything possible before making the jump. A big financial commitment where small mistakes can cost you even more than expected.
Nonetheless, with the introduction of the government scheme Help to Buy, owning your own house is becoming more of a reality for more people. In consequence, there are more people in need of advice as to what they should be looking out for when going about buying their first property.
You wouldn’t just spend 20 minutes making a decision about a property which you are going to live in for the foreseeable future, or even for the rest of your life! Some would, which is why we have put together this guide which highlights some of the key things you need to look at when visiting a potential property.
Should you be buying at this moment in time?
Look at the current climate of the housing market. It is true that we have had some devastating years where house prices were so high people simply couldn’t afford to move and years where people were receiving only a fraction of what their house was actually worth.
As a buyer, you should concentrate on whether buying is affordable and will ultimately be the best decision for you in the long term. This is better than buying in the mentality that you should be a homeowner by a certain stage in your life.
With buying a property comes a need for a mortgage, for most of us anyway. Buyers need to factor into the budget how much they can realistically spend each month paying back their mortgage.
As mentioned previously, the Help to Buy scheme has been in place for some years now. As a feature of this, the government have helped to increase the choice of mortgages for people with 5% to put down. However, borrowers will pay a premium at this level. Mortgage deals become a little for competitive if you have 10% or 15% to put down and the really decent rates come in once you can put down 25%.
If you are in need of money to buy a house now but do not have time to wait for a mortgage to clear, an option for you might be a bridging loan. A bridging loan is a type of short-term finance which essentially ‘bridges the gap’ between you and the mortgage, allowing you obtain the property without a mortgage being cleared. Rather than losing a potential property, you can apply for a bridging loan and receive the money in one lump within a few working days. Once the property has been purchased and has access to more finance, you will be required to repay the loan.
Check out the overall neighbourhood
When looking to buy a house, the location should be just as important to you as the property itself. There is no point living in a lovely house in an area which is worn-down and crime-ridden. At the end of the day, you can do a house up in a nice area, but you cannot move a house out of a bad one.
We advise that you should take some time after finding a property that you like to explore the neighbourhood. See what it has to offer – are there shops, restaurants, pubs, parks and so on? What are the local schools like? Is the town clean and presentable, or is it covered in litter and graffiti?
Is the building itself structurally sound?
When viewing a property, you should look out for things like big cracks in the walls as well as smaller problems like damp which may affect the structure and the living environment. Hairline cracks should be nothing to worry about and most places will have these, it is the bigger and more serve ones you should look out for.
You should also look at things like where the extension joins, bay windows and end-of-terrace walls – all of these can start to bow away from the rest of the house if not done well.
The roof is also an area of concern for buyers. Replacing a roof can be extremely expensive and you may not have the budget to do this on top of buying the property. A roof should last about 15 to 20 years, so you should check with the seller how old the roof actually is before making an offer because an old roof may give you grounds to knock the price down.
Evaluate how much storage there is
Often, buyers get so swept up in the excitement of the buying process that they miss out whether the properties they look at have sufficient storage for their amount of personal possessions.
Storage is a massively valuable asset on a house, it increases the monetary value and makes it a nicer environment to dwell in.
When looking around the property, you should think things like “where will I keep my vacuum cleaner, towels, beddings and miscellaneous boxes and products?” It is not impolite to ask the homeowner where they store things like this, after all, it is a selling point to have good storage so they will probably be more than happy to show you.
In addition to this, you should evaluate whether the rooms are big enough for your needs? The way that it has been styled by the sellers may make the rooms appear bigger than they are, but you should consider what the rooms would look like with your furniture in them.
Is the plumbing good?
Run the taps to check out what the water pressure is like. Ask the homeowner if the pipes are insulated and make sure that they are not made of lead as you will have to replace these as soon as possible. Check the radiators and the boiler work and aren’t too old, again these might need replacing adding more cost on to your move.