10 Key Factors to Consider when Buying a Property
Whether investing in a new rental property, or searching for your forever family home, deciding on a house can be a tough decision, and involve a significant budget!
It is, therefore, essential to be practical, as well as understanding factors such as maintenance costs – to make sure you are led by your head as well as your heart.
The Tod Anstee team has compiled this guide to run through our ten essential considerations, to equip you with all the right questions to ask before you make an offer. For more advice on finding your ideal West Sussex property, get in touch!
1. Are There Any Maintenance Issues or Repairs Required?
Spending weeks planning your move, and then noticing an emerging damp problem, or mould spores in your brand new house can be discouraging, expensive and upsetting.
When you’re viewing a property, it’s vital to ask the seller, or their agent, if any such issues need addressing; whether they resolve them before the sale, or you negotiate the price to account for the costs. According to a recent study, the average cost of repairing property issues after moving in is a whopping £5,000, so it is essential to check these out for yourself, and not rely on the survey to identify any potential problems.
For example, of those homeowners who have discovered problems after their move, 24% found mould or damp, 20% found that the plumbing didn’t work correctly, 19% needed to spend money on fixing decor and 18% reported that the central heating wasn’t adequate.
There is nothing wrong with inquiring about recent repairs. A seller is obliged to disclose important information about the property’s condition, so this can save a lot of heartache.
2. How Accessible is the Nearby Parking?
Have you ever viewed a property during the day, or at the weekend? One of the most stressful problems is, if your home doesn’t have off-road parking, you find that it becomes overrun with shoppers, workers, or visitors during key hours – and you can’t get within a mile of your front door.
Even in areas with parking permit schemes, sometimes the number of spaces is far lower than the number of permit holders. Hence it is essential to visit at different times of the day and on different days of the week to see whether your prospective new home is easily accessible at all times.
A Which report shows that 26% of buyers purchase a home after only one viewing; therefore, you could easily miss out on crucial decision-making factors.
3. Which Rooms Get the Best Natural Light?
Particularly if you consider buying a property in summer, or view it first thing in the morning or later in the evening around work hours, it’s pretty challenging to know where the natural light hits the home.
South facing homes will usually mention this in their property details, as they get the most sun, so this is a selling point.
However, if you’re unsure, ask the agent or try driving past in different light conditions to ensure you’re not spending your hard-earned cash on a property that is gloomy for a large chunk of the day.
4. Do Extensions or Conversions Have Building Regulations Certification?
An important consideration is whether any improvements or extensions have been added to the property – and whether they have all the requisite planning permission, permitted development rights, or building regulations certification.
The seller should always provide this documentation, but if in doubt, make sure you ask before the paperwork completes.
Unauthorised extensions can be ordered to be removed, so it is well worth taking the time to check.
5. Will My Furniture and Furnishings Fit?
Always, always take a tape measure with you! If you have any pieces of furniture you are bringing with you, which is more than likely, you need to know they will fit through the door, or into the dimensions of the room in your new house.
The same goes for appliances, especially fitted cookers and cleaning appliances, and furnishings.
Unusual shaped bay windows, for example, can be difficult to fit without investing in bespoke curtains, and the seller might be happy to include these in the property sale.
6. Is There Any Sign of Damp?
In many cases, a seller will try to disguise any underlying issues. While a survey should spot any serious damp, there is always a risk, particularly in period properties, that the first signs will only start to show through the paint when you’ve been in residence for a few months.
Key indicators are lots of air freshener or plugins, so always enquire about damp and make sure your surveyors carry out a thorough inspection.
7. Does Everything Work as it Should?
When you attend a viewing, flick every light switch, turn on and off every tap, look for gaps or cracks in the flooring and walls, and check whether power sockets are in the right place and all operational.
These little niggles can be a nuisance, so you can ask the seller to repair any faulty light switches, for example, before you move in. Taking photos of the rooms to start planning your layout is always a good idea, and you can use this to prepare for any new plug socket wiring you might need.
8. When Was the Roof Last Repaired or Checked?
Roofing repairs can be extremely expensive. A tired, uncared for roof might not be leaking or show any physical signs of wear and tear – and then quickly become a severe problem next time the weather turns cold, or we experience heavy rains.
Ask for repair slips or receipts showing when the seller last cleared guttering, the roof was last checked or repaired, and if in any doubt take a look or ask your surveyor to inspect whether there are any missing tiles, wonky chimneys or signs of damage that could be costly to fix.
9. Are There any Noise Nuisances – and is the Property Soundproof?
Most of us don’t choose a property solely on the neighbours; but if you are close to commercial premises, near a busy road, or a through route for a workplace or school, it is wise to visit at different times of the day and see what the noise levels reach inside the property.
10. What is the Local Area Like?
Lastly, take your time to visit the local area to get a feel for what amenities are close by, and whether you feel like you’d fit in well with the local neighbourhood.
Are there public transport links within walking distance? Where is the nearest shop for when you run out of milk? Can you get to a park or outdoor area to stretch your legs without a long drive?
We’d recommend going back at rush hour, on the weekend, and a weekday to get a good overview of what the area is like at different times.
It’s so important to consider these questions because you have a powerful negotiating position before deciding to make an offer or when discussing the sale-listing price.
If you move into a new property and find significant maintenance issues, it can add stress to the house move, and incur substantial costs that could have been covered.
In some cases, if the seller is keen for a quick sell, you can leverage the anticipated cost of repair work to bring down the agreed price. They might offer to carry out the repairs themselves, saving you the time and hassle of needing to find a contractor in your new area.
Alternatively, if you’ve agreed on the cost, you have some leeway to put together a contingency budget, and potentially add this cost onto your mortgage agreement.
For more advice on the most important questions to ask at a property viewing – whether it’s the first viewing or the fourth – give Tod Anstee a call for professional advice from an experienced West Sussex estate agency team.