Buyer Guide

Looking for properties

Buying a house is probably the largest purchase you will make, don’t rush it and allow plenty of time when you view a property.   A few questions to consider are:

  • Which areas would you consider buying in?
  • Are there other areas you would consider but don't know so well?
  • What kind of property are you looking for?
  • What are the ‘must-haves’ and ‘don't wants’?
  • When do you want to have moved by?
  • Do you need to sell, and if so, is your property on the market yet?
  • How much are you prepared to spend to get what you want?
  • Do you know how much you can borrow, and if so, is your finance organised?

It can take time to decide where your next home should be, let alone what the property should offer, particularly if you are moving to a new area or from overseas, so give yourself plenty of time.   Your search area may be dictated by your children's schools, by a job relocation or to be closer to your parents.   Whatever your circumstances, if you don't know the area, do some research on schools, local amenities, transport links, journey times, house prices etc.

Try to make a list of the features which are important to you in a house before you start looking.   You can categorise these into essential features (e.g. number of bedrooms) and desirable features but not essential.   Refer to these lists when looking at properties to see how they match up.

When looking at a house, try to imagine how it will look with your furniture and possessions in there, not the seller’s.   Check your furniture, and especially that large items such as sofas, beds and wardrobes will fit into the rooms.   Do not be put off by poor decor, which can easily be remedied by a coat of paint and cleaning.

Note the weather the day you view, it is often a good idea if you are seriously interested in the property, returning to view at a different time of day and under different weather conditions. Remember on a rainy day everywhere always looks less enticing.   Don’t be put off what might be your ideal property.   Gardens don’t always look well-tended.   Imagine what you could do yourself.   An untidy garden will often look smaller than it really is.   Look at arrangements for car parking, will they meet your needs?

Ask the vendor about bills and outgoings such as council tax, electricity, water and gas bills.   Also if it is a flat ask about maintenance and service charges as these can be quite considerable.   Ask about any guarantees for any recent work or new appliances you are shown.   Don’t forget to look around at the neighbours and area and ask yourself will I feel at home here?   Check out local facilities such as shops, schools, doctors, and local transport.

Once you’ve found your ideal property

When you find a suitable property, consult your agent about how to proceed.   An offer is about more than just money; you will be asked to provide details of:

  • Your buying position
  • Proposed timeframes
  • Any inclusions (curtains, carpets, etc.)
  • How you propose to fund the purchase

The seller will expect us to obtain all of this information as it will aid them in their decision making.   There are a number of other up-front costs involved in buying your first property aside from the deposit and mortgage repayments.   These include mortgage set-up fees, solicitors’ fees and Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).

Be ready to move

Even in more difficult markets, some properties will attract a high number of buyers due to their location, character or potential.   Make sure that your bid comes from a position of strength by being ready to move.   Cash buyers will always be more attractive to sellers, because they can proceed quickly and come chain-free, so do consider renting (or at the very least have your funding in place).   Renting is also a good way to get to know an area and its amenities before committing to a purchase, and is much better than purchasing the wrong house and having to move again in a few years.