Top tips for first-time buyers to consider when viewing potential properties.
It won’t surprise you to learn that buying a home is usually the single most expensive purchase you will ever make.
Viewing a house or flat can be exciting but it's easy to forget to check all the essential details. It is not always easy to know what to look for, what questions to ask and how to make sure you have the full picture.
Here’s our top tips to help see the real property behind the sales pitch:
Before applying for a mortgage, you need to think about more than just whether you can afford the monthly repayments. Mortgage providers will look at your income and outgoings to see if you can keep up with repayments if interest rates rise or your circumstances change.
It’s therefore wise to put together a budget before you start looking for a property.
Secure a mortgage
One you’ve been offered a loan from a bank or building society, get an agreement in principal. This document is free and demonstrates to sellers and estate agents you are a serious contender.
Check out government schemes
For many homebuyers; attempting to save for a deposit, securing a mortgage or finding the perfect home at the right price can be a real problem.
To tackle this issue, the government has set up several schemes to help you get on the property ladder, such as Help to Buy, Right to Buy, Shared Ownership and others.
Make a list of all the things that are important to you and any questions you want to ask before the viewing.
Inevitably there will be compromises, so go in knowing exactly what you want. Whether it’s proximity to the nearest Tube station or being in the catchment area for a school, make a list of your deal-breakers.
Research local area
Find out as much about the area as you can. Spend at least half an hour walking around to see how close the things that matter to you are, such as cafés, schools, transport links or local shops. This can save you time going to viewings for properties that turn out to be too far out of your way.
Visit more than once
Don’t be afraid to go back. Even in a fast-moving market, it’s best to go and see the property more than once if possible. The more times you view a house, the more likely you are to spot potential problems. Try to make sure you visit at different times of day, even if it’s just the street outside.
The 2015 Which? property survey found that 26% of people viewed their current home once before buying it, 43% twice, 21% three times and 11% four or more times.