7 top tips for home buyers: how to avoid any nasty surprises

14th May, 2013

Moving house can be an incredibly stressful time, but it should also be an exciting one. Whether it’s your first time buying, or you’ve bought before and you’re now looking to climb another rung on the property ladder, at Radcliffe & Rust we’ve put together some top tips for making sure you don’t run into any nasty surprises along the way.

Follow our homebuyer advice and avoid the complications that many buyers fall into.

1. Do your research

Don’t wait until you’re actually inside a house to start asking questions. Be sure to do your research before you view a property.

Begin by reading the property listing very carefully – but don’t rely on a listing too much. The internet is an invaluable tool, so use it to gather as much additional information about the property and the area as possible.

Try searching for the property on Google’s Street View. It’s a great way to get a glimpse into how the property looked at a particular point in time. If you decide to visit the property, remember to pay attention and ask questions about any changes you notice.

Get to know the market. Find similar properties in a number of different locations and compare the prices. You might find that you pay a premium by choosing one location over another.

2. Don’t go alone

When you look round a house, it’s a good idea to take someone with you – whether that’s a partner, a friend or a family member.

Buying a house is an important decision, and having a second opinion from someone you trust can be invaluable.

3. Question the current owners

Don’t be shy to ask why the current owners are moving. Are they relocating for work, are they looking for something bigger, or are they moving because of problems with the property or with the local area?

Inquire about the public transport, the local schools, the crime level, where the closest shops are, and if there are any up-and-coming developments that may change the face of the area.

It’s also good opportunity to gauge the motivation of the seller.

Are they looking for a quick sale? Then you may have leeway to negotiate on the price if you decide to make an offer.

4. Is anything included in the sale?

Never assume. Always be clear about what will and what won’t be included in the sale of a property.

If you see something that you would like to see remain in the house, don’t be afraid to tell the seller. Let them know as soon as you can. Getting in early gives you plenty of time to negotiate – and be sure to put your requests in writing to avoid any confusion or dispute down the line.

Ensure that appliances are spelled out in the contract, and be careful with speciality light fittings and other items that could potentially be classed as ‘personal property’ (i.e. things that the seller will be taking with them to their new house).

5. Property alterations and potential for change

Has the property been redecorated recently? Don’t assume that a redecoration has been undertaken just to make the property look nicer – it could be hiding something.

A repaint could be hiding signs of damp, and if you notice any large cracks you should consult a surveyor for a full and comprehensive structural assessment.

And remember: if you’re buying a property with the intention of developing it,¬†always¬†make sure that you secure planning permission first.

6. Visit again

If you think you’ve found the right place, don’t jump into anything. Go back and take a second look around.

You might want to arrange your visit at another time of day. If you previously went in the morning or early afternoon, try for an evening visit. Things will look much different, and it will give you an opportunity to see what the neighbourhood is like at night, and whether it feels like a safe area.

If you went on a Saturday or Sunday, arrange for a weekday visit. You might find that the location isn’t as peaceful or as relaxing as you might previously have been led to believe.

7. Don’t overdo it!

No matter how you look at it, shopping for property is a big undertaking – and it can take some time to finalise.

With this in mind, try to spread out your property viewings and avoid fitting too much into a single day. Doing too much over such a short period of time isn’t a healthy way to go about things, and the frustration may tempt you into making an offer on the first property you like.

Emotions and the way you feel about a property play an undeniable part in the buying process, but don’t let them get the better of you!