Buying a house can be stressful. It’s a big, long-term investment, so you want to make sure everything is perfect. For first time buyers in particular, it can be hard to know where to start the process and what to look out for. There can be a lot of pitfalls and new buyers can get overwhelmed so they might miss key issues.
Many buyers want to rush into things, but on average it takes at least two months from when you put in an offer to getting the contract signed.
A lot of home buyers also don’t think to look at the resale value of the property. No matter how long you intend to stay and live at the house, you always need to think about how hard it would be to sell again. Whether or not it makes a difference to you, see the distances to the nearest schools, transport lines, hospital and shops, as well as the environment and area. If you don’t feel safe, it’s possible that future buyers won’t either, making it harder to re-sell when you need to.
Many buyers are also scared to ask the right questions, but landlords and estate agents have to disclose important aspects of the house. After all, you have a right to know what you’re buying. If there is a communal garage, parking space or garden, ask if access is included in the price, especially if you’re buying a flat. You can also ask about neighbourly issues with the Property Information Questionnaire, and be sure to find out about any upcoming works and buildings in the area, such as a new train line or shopping centre, that might have an effect on the price.
Don’t be scared to put in an offer a bit below the asking price. On average you can start off 10-15% below and estate agents are likely to negotiate down if it’s been on the market for a while or if it is a property that needs to be sold quickly.
The important thing that many buyers do wrong is pick a place before dealing with finances, meaning that there could be more long term struggles. Falling in love with a place before dealing with all the documentation would mean that you’ll then be trying to fit your finances around the buy, whether it’s in your budget or not. You need to make a rational decision rather than an emotional one. Make sure you budget correctly by looking at both incomings and outgoings – no matter how small. You also shouldn’t say yes to the first property you see no matter how much you love it. See what else is on the market and if you can get something that’s more value for money.
Not only should you be looking at the price of the house, but also have a look at other costs such as being able to keep up with the Council Tax or maintenance costs and see if your long term budget matches. You are allowed to ask to see documents such as Council Tax bills, so you can make estimations on whether you can afford that, as well as see how the price has changed over the years. Make a budget and stick to it.
And tying into all of this is the house itself. Is it structurally sound? Are there any immediate issues that you’ll have to pay for? Look at the house properly before putting in an offer. You’ll need a surveyor in to look at the house anyway, but having an idea of what to look out for can save you making a costly mistake early on. That’s why Aviva have put together the House Viewing Checklist, so you can know what to look for when viewing a potential buy. It gives you the signs to look out for, guide costs for repairs to be made and even a checklist you can use whilst viewing a property.