We’ve gathered from the comments we’ve received so far that quite a few of you are either going through the house buying/selling process or are just about to enter it. With the market beginning to improve, house buying is becoming a hot topic again and we’re keen to hear about your situation and to have a good old chin-wag about your experiences.
On a personal note, I have a rather unhealthy obsession with property related programmes. I realise this in no way puts me in the same league as the legend that is Phil Spencer, but I have family and friends moving on and up the property ladder and a few of my own experiences to draw on. So to kick off the post, here are my top tips.
Do your Research
# Get an understanding of how much houses are going for in your chosen area. (Zoopla’s Sold House Price tool can help here). Two couples I know who are currently buying are finding that the level of demand for houses in their particular area has resulted in houses going for considerably more than asking price. This can be quite a shock (particular as the market has been stagnant for a while) so have a good think about how much you are prepared to go over. And always bear in mind that a house is only worth what a Mortgage Lender values it to be.
# Make friends with Estate Agents in the area you want to move to. Right Move and other property websites are great but it can take a few days for properties to be listed. Getting pally with an Estate Agent can mean you’re the one who gets to find out about houses before they hit the website. Remember there is a line between persistent and being a stalker though!
# Keep an open mind and consider houses outside of your wish list. Viewing homes with smaller gardens, less bedrooms, further away from work can really help you get your priorities in to perspective and can help define aspects that you are willing to compromise on.
# Don’t get too carried away before you’ve viewed a house. This is so difficult to do and I have to admit I was guilty of it many times in our last mission to buy houses in Toronto. We wasted many hours imaging our new life in the latest addition to Right Move, checking it out on Street View, virtually moved in our furniture in our heads only to find out the next morning that planning permission had been granted for a mega block of flats on the grassy view opposite. It’s really important to do your research but remain cautious until a viewing. Always make sure you see your options view more brands here.
# This brings me on to the next point; Check out planning permissions in the chosen area. By going to the your local council website you should be able to view permissions that have been granted and declined for your chosen street as well as your prospective house. This gives you an indication of what could spring up in your new street or whether the work you want to do to your new abode would be approved.
# South facing and West facing gardens are known for getting the most sun. However this doesn’t mean you should disregard East or North facing gardens if you’re a sun worshipper. My own house has an East facing courtyard and has sun until 6pm in the Summer due to my cottage being so low in height!
If you’re unsure which way a plot is facing have a look at the satellite dishes in the street. In the UK all dishes point South so if you spot a dish on the front of the house then this particular one doesn’t have a South facing garden. I’m making the vast assumption here that all gardens are on the back of a house but you get the idea.
# As well as checking out the boiler, double glazing, any damp patches etc, don’t forget to take a look at the positioning of power points and light switches. I viewed a Victorian house once that only had two power points in the whole of the upstairs. How could you possibly decide whether your hair dryer, straightners or iPhone charger takes priority?! I’m not sure I would feel comfortable doing it, but it’s worth asking the seller or estate agent if you can take your own photos on viewings too.
# Try and view a prospective house at two different times of day before you put in an offer. One quiet neighbourhood at 2pm on a Weekend can be drastically different at 8am on a Monday morning. You can obviously do you’re own drive-by research to check out the traffic situation but its worth visiting the house too to check out the amount of light etc. If this simply isn’t possible, and you have to offer after one viewing, consider requesting a second viewing as soon as your offer is accepted.
# The high amount of Buyers and low amount of Sellers is making open viewings more popular in some areas of the country. This can be a very weird and stressful experience for all involved. Essentially the house is open for several hours whilst rival bidders traipse around. It can be difficult not to let your heart rule your head in these situations: Viewing with so many others makes even the most normal of houses appear hugely popular and can force you into making quick and rushed decisions. Make sure you do as much research beforehand so that if you have to act quickly you feel equipped to make a decision.
It’s obviously up to you how you want to handle viewing a house at the same time as your competition; you could choose to point out all that’s wrong with the property to put them off the scent but remember that you’re likely to see the same buyers again at the next neighbourhood open viewing!
# Get the right survey. Particularly on older houses it helps to find out exactly what you’re letting yourself in for. Although it can be pricey it can act as a negotiation tool if you find something untoward.
# Chat to a Mortgage Advisor BEFORE you start viewings and get indication of the amount of money that you can spend. If you can get a mortgage approved in principle you can get the wheels in motion as soon as your offer is accepted. The same is true for getting a solicitor in place too. You don’t want to be a buyer who holds up the chain because you’re still ringing around for quotes.
# Finally, try and take some time out. Property searching can become all consuming and can be downright stressful. Try to agree to one night off where you talk about something different. I’m sure there are quite a few people who have to do this when planning a Wedding too! I appreciate it’s harder said then done but it’s worth a try.
Phew! What a long post! Now it’s over to you. What gems of advice can you give to buyers? What was your experience of buying a house? And don’t forget to let me know if you’d be interested in more posts about moving or selling.