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Top 10 tips for Buying Property

Posted on by Karl

Buying a property is an understandably stressful experience; it’s not the fastest or simplest of processes, and it’s likely to be the most expensive purchase of your life. It’s important to make sure that you do everything right, as the last thing you want to do is buy a property that you’re not happy with, isn’t worth the price that you paid for it, or is falling to pieces!
That’s why we’ve shared these top 10 tips for buying property. We have a great deal of experience in the property sector, and if you keep these 10 pointers in mind during when looking at property for sale, this particular life milestone will pass by that much more smoothly!

1) Cut out the middle man

This is always a bit of an outside chance, but the savings that you could make both financially, and in terms of minimising potential stress, make it well worth looking into.
In essence, if you have settled on an area that you want to move into, it’s well worth distributing flyers advertising your interest in purchasing property in the area. If you’re lucky enough, someone in the same area will be looking to sell their property soon. If you’re even luckier, they’ll be living in a property that you really like the look of.
The aim is to cut middle men like estate agents out of the process, minimising cost and complication. Again, it’s an outside chance, but you lose nothing for trying!

2) Do some research into property prices and mortgages

There is such a diverse range of properties it can be important to know exactly what you can get for your money. Mouseprice allow you see the sale prices of properties across the UK and can often help you reduce the amount of time spent searching. Going to a estate agents or mortgage brokers with an idea of how much you would like to and can spend and the property you are going for also helps speed up the service they can provide you.
With mortgages being such a large expense, it’s going to make a world of difference if you can find the cheapest rate possible. Even the smallest difference on paper could result in a massive saving over the lifetime of a mortgage. A general rule of thumb is that, the higher deposit you put down, the lower the more competitively priced a more mortgage will be.
Beyond that, there are many free mortgage calculators and estimators online, so it’s definitely worth having a look at a few and seeing what kinds of deals are available. The Help to Buy scheme, instituted by the government in 2013 is also worth keeping in mind while looking into mortgages; as through the scheme, you can get a mortgage for a deposit as low as 5%!

3) Make sure that you’ve assessed the true/total cost of the purchase

It’s an unfortunate fact that there are more expenses tied up in the purchasing of a property than just that of a mortgage. Some are more obvious than others; removal hire, new furnishings and mortgage arrangement fees are all to be expected.
However, you’re also looking at potential repair costs to your new property after you’ve moved in, survey costs and valuation fees before you move in, and Stamp duty when you apply for your mortgage. It can all rack up very quickly if you’re unaware, so make sure you know exactly what you’ll be paying.

4) Ensure that you’re not walking into a trap!

This is an often overlooked piece of advice, but also an extremely important one in making sure that you enjoy living in your new home. As nice as the property may be, you need to be sure that the surrounding area is equally as desirable; if your neighbours are terrible, or your new neighbourhood is prone to burglaries and spates of antisocial behaviour, you are going to spend a long time regretting your purchase!
Make sure that you visit properties that you are interested in at different times of day, to ensure that your neighbours aren’t going to cause you any problems; keep an ear out for loud music and eye out for litter or vandalism.
Also, do research on the local area! Contact home insurers for potential clues about any environmental issues (such as a propensity to flood), while also checking online crime heat-maps, as well as local news reports for a rough history of crime in the area. If any alarm bells get rung, it may be worth looking elsewhere!

5) Ensure that there are no obvious problems

A similar tip to the previous one; but even more important! It goes without saying that you should have a few looks around the property that you are contemplating buying, but it’s paramount that you look out for some of these potential hazards and problems, as they could make your life extremely difficult a few months or years down the line.
Damp is something that, if found in sufficient quantity, should probably make you rethink your purchase, as it can be expensive to sort out, and cause a great many complications if left unchecked. Check all fixtures and fittings work as they should; this includes making sure the boiler works, making sure that all the property’s locks function correctly, as well as checking the superstructure of the building for cracks and mould.
The above are just a few examples; if you intend to live in a property, you owe it to yourself to check for such problems!

6) Know exactly what you’re getting

An easy tip to implement, but one that can pay big dividends; ask for an inventory list for the property that you are interested in, from the respective landlord or tenant. You may otherwise end up spending a lot more money in your first few months of residency than you originally expected, as many of the pieces of furniture, fixtures and fittings that you saw in the property when you looked around originally, may have left with the original owners when you finally move in. Don’t take the risk, ensure you get an inventory!

7) Don’t get gazumped!

Gazumping is the act of a property seller pulling out of an arrangement at the last minute, to sell to another party who has made a higher offer. This unfortunately happens more than you would think, which is an even greater shame as it’s a very easy problem to avoid.
Gazumping can only occur if you make an oral offer for a property, in lieu of signing a contract, or other legally binding agreement. For a choice as monumental as the purchase of a property, it really is mad to leave things to chance; if you like a property make sure you secure it!

8) Make sure that your credit score is the best that it can be

When applying for a mortgage, it’s an almost absolute certainty that your mortgage provider will be checking your credit rating, to ensure that you are who you say you are, and that you have the means to pay back the amount that you are borrowing.
There are quite a few fairly obvious things that can affect your credit score, such as having outstanding (or a history of) debt, or County Court Judgments (CCJs). There are some slightly less obvious tips that can also make all the difference when it comes to your credit score; for one it’s important to make sure that you’re registered on the electoral register, as mortgage lenders often use the electoral register to verify identities. Moving house frequently can also reflect badly on your credit rating; the lack of consistency that this can imply may make a mortgage lender nervous.
Ultimately, it’s not too difficult to check your credit score out; many credit rating agencies offer a free trial, so it’s entirely possible, with a bit of online legwork, to find out your credit rating, and in doing so, find out how to correct any problems.

9) Keep abreast of future developments

It’s a very good idea to ensure that your hopes and plans aren’t going to be buried under a future housing development being planned or built nearby! Make sure that the pleasant views and open spaces that originally attracted you to the property are going to remain unspoiled.
Simply researching the area and talking to prospective neighbours may be enough to ascertain the immediate future of your favoured property, though if these steps don’t do enough to assuage any doubts or suspicions, it may be worth checking the government planning portal.

10)… While safeguarding your own future plans

No matter what your intention for your new property, whether you intend to live there for the rest of your days, or if you simply intend for it to be the first leg up on the property ladder, it’s important to ensure that your investment will last the test of time. In essence, you want to be sure that your new property is not only worth the money that you are paying for it, while also being sure that the value will not depreciate with time.
The easiest ways to decrease the chances of this gradual devaluation is to apply a few of the steps listed above, but with a mind for long term issues. Problems with a property which you notice immediately, such as cracks in masonry or minor damage to fixtures and fittings, can easily grow more severe over time. However, such problems can also be expensive to fix, no matter what point in your property’s lifetime that they’re looked into. When inspecting a prospective new property, make sure you’re planning for the future.