House hunting can be extremely exciting! It’s a new beginning in a new area and the opportunity for a clean slate. You could be upsizing, downsizing or it could be your first home. But regardless of whether it’s a mansion, or a hobbit hole, your first or 50th home, what should you be looking out for before you buy?
Age of property
There will be different things to ask depending on the age of the property. If it is a new build, it’ll most likely be in a good condition. However, the older the property, the more likely it is to have potential problems. Is it a grade II listed building? Are there any other restrictions on the property, is it in a national park? Is there woodworm or damp? It is important to remember that with older properties, not all problems may be visible. So it is always advisable to obtain a thorough survey of the property.
This is a nightmare of many to discover that the house they have just bought contains asbestos. However, the severity of this being an issue depends on whether or not the asbestos is exposed. If you are concerned that there could be asbestos in the house you are looking to purchase, it is strongly advisable to get a qualified asbestos removal company to check if it is asbestos and if the asbestos is exposed, to have it removed safely.
For more information, see the National Asbestos Helpline
Is it structurally sound?
Unless you are planning on undertaking a big renovation, the only things you’ll really want to be changing is the paint colour. So ask the questions, is the roof sound, how old are the windows, are there any cracks in the walls, how good is the insulation?
Location, location, location. They say it’s not just the size of your house or what it looks like, but where it is located that’s of equal importance. What are your neighbours like? Do the current occupants have a good relationship with the neighbours or at least know who they are?
If the property is situated on a busy road, train line, under a flight path or next to a commercial premises, how noisy does it get? Try and make arrangements to visit the property at different times of day in order to assess noise levels at different times.
Another of the five senses to consider is smell. Is there a local refuse site nearby, or a factory that emits smoke or other smelly substances?
Which way does the building face?
This can be particularly important if you’re a keen gardener or a sun lover. If you want your back garden to be a sun trap you want it to be south facing, that way you’ll get the sun into the evening.
What is the area like, schools, local amenities etc?
If you have a family, being close to a good school can be high on the priority list.
It might also be important to you to have local amenities within walking distance. Can you walk to get a pint of milk or bread?
Is it built on an old flood plain?
Some new housing developments are built on old flood plains. This is something to look into and consider before signing on that dotted line. Just because it hasn’t witnessed a flood in several years does not necessarily mean that it won’t be affected in the future. It is also good to check if this would impact your house insurance, as some insurers may be reluctant or charge higher premiums for houses built in such locations.
What land is included in the property? It is a good idea to make sure you are aware of what land is included in the property and where any borders are, as having a misunderstanding of what land belongs to your property can cause disputes. It is also important to ascertain if the property is freehold or leasehold, as leasehold properties can result in yearly fees.
How much will the bills for this property cost? If there is a communal area, will you have to pay any maintenance fees towards that? Make sure that you can comfortably afford the house you want to buy before you commit. It is good to be realistic and crunch the numbers and ensure that if bills or interest rates went up, you could still afford the property.
Is the road adopted?
Another important thing to consider is whether the road your potential house is situated on is adopted or owned by the local authorities. If the road is adopted, it is worth finding out if you will have to pay any upkeep charges to maintain the road, and if the road being adopted will affect local bin collections.
Extensions and Alterations
If there has been any work carried out on the property it is worth finding out how recently the work was carried out, and if the builder contacted the local authorities and obtained the appropriate approvals and permissions for the works.
This is of course not an exhaustive list. Each property is unique and will have different things to consider. So use this as a starting point and add onto this checklist. Always ensure you get a professional survey done, as that will be able to tell you of any possible structural issues that are not obvious on the surface.
For more information, please visit our conveyancing pages here.