Q. Being a first time buyer I basically know what I am looking for but am worried when I actually view that I am being too superficial and not looking or taking note of the important stuff. Do you have a rough guideline of what I should be taking note of or looking for other than it looks nice and it’s in a suitable location?
A. Being a first time buyer can be scary but armed with the right information you should do good. Most people decide on a property within 15 seconds of entering. But it’s vital to get a clear and sensible view of what you’re buying first, keep your sensible head on when you are viewing so that you are not charmed by mere cosmetic details or a glossy brochure. Does the property require updating, is it just cosmetic, or is there more serious work involved? If it’s a period building is it a listed building or in a conservation area which might restrict any alterations? Are the rooms big enough for your requirements, and will your furniture fit? If you like the property and are considering offering make sure you ask what is isn’t included in the sale, furniture, fittings, parking etc. What are the usual bills for electricity, gas, water? It’s always good to know the reason why the seller’s selling? Is the boiler gas or electric and is there central heating? How old is the boiler, these can be expensive to replace? When it was last serviced? Is there a loft and if so is it insulated? Are the windows double glazed? Has the property been altered in any way and if so are the relevant planning consents available to inspect? Are there any signs of subsidence? Are there any major cracks in the walls or doors not closing properly, this could be a sign of major issues which a surveyor would need to look at. Can you smell damp, look up at the ceilings – are there watermarks anywhere if so this could mean a serious leak from upstairs? Has the property been recently decorated, if so has it been done to cover anything untoward? Is there enough storage for all your belongings? Which direction is it facing, and does the property get enough natural light? Has it been well maintained? Could you see yourself living there? Does it feel like your home? If the property is leasehold make sure you are given the service charge, ground rent and length of lease details as this could impact the viability of the purchase both financially and long term. Analyse the location carefully too, what is the property’s proximity to main roads, schools, bars and restaurants, how close is it to railway lines or flight paths? If you are new to the area discover what the community feel like? What is the condition of nearby property like? Is the property near relevant transport links? Are there any plans for development near or around the property? What is the crime level like in the area? What are the neighbours like, you may be able to retract this information if the vendor is around during a second viewing? Has there ever been a dispute with any neighbours about the property or land? Of course you may not be able to be sure about everything on this list but if you did decide to buy your solicitor would also ensure that these issues were checked out too via their enquiries and the local authority searches. Always go back for a second view and take a friend with you for a second opinion as they may see things that you have missed.