Getting on the property ladder is a big achievement.
Not only is buying a home stressful, but you’ve probably spent ages saving for a deposit, done a zillion viewings and waited nervously for nothing to go wrong.
Now, you’ve got the keys in your hand—it’s time to sit back and celebrate.
So, imagine the disappointment if you were to realise your perfect new home wasn’t as perfect as you thought?
Keep in mind, unexpected repairs like replacing an old boiler or more severe issues (like a damaged roof), will cost you time and money to fix. And, might make your home unsaleable in the future.
If you want to avoid buying the wrong property, here’s a list key questions you should ask.
#1. Is the property leasehold? If yes, how many years remain?
There’s nothing actually wrong with owning a property with a leasehold. In fact, if you’re buying a flat, it’s more than likely to be leasehold rather than freehold.
Problems arise when your leasehold has only 80 years or less left because extending it is costly and time-consuming. As a result, when it comes to selling a flat with a short lease in the future, you may struggle to find a buyer. Something best avoided.
#2 Are there signs of damp?
It’s common knowledge that damp isn’t good for your health. Evidence suggests exposure can lead to a range of respiratory health problems like asthma and bronchitis. In addition, it’s costly and disruptive to remedy permanently.
Damp is caused by excess moisture in the property as a result of e.g. leaky pipes, rising damp or damaged windows allowing rainwater to get in.
When viewing potential properties, check for the following signs that may indicator a damp problem:
• Condensation on windows
• A musty smell
• Mould or mildew patches on walls
• Lifting or peeling wallpaper
#3 Are the electrics safe?
Many homebuyers don’t realise their survey doesn’t cover the electrics fully.
Unsafe electrics can cause a wealth of issues from increasingly your energy bills, giving you electric shocks or worse, are a serious fire hazard. Moreover, fixing electrical faults can cost anything from £2K to £10K.
It’s worthwhile, paying for an additional inspection by a qualified professional before you decide to exchange.
Here are also a few things you can check yourself:
• Check plugs and sockets for signs of damage.
• Turn lights on and off to check switches. Do lights blinker?
• Take note of the quality of leads and cables. Are there any wires sticking out?
#4 Are there any plumbing issues?
Bad plumbing can lead to a range of problems from damp to flooding. Not only are these expensive to fix, but they’re also unpleasant to live with and will devalue your home.
Check the following things before you sign on the dotted line:
• How old is the boiler? Does it work? Remember a new boiler can cost you anything from £2k – £5k. Moreover, old boilers are inefficient and cost more to run.
• Check the toilets, sinks and drains outside. Watch out for bad smells. Check the flush on the toilet – is it clunky or smooth?
• Ask to see the water tank and inspect it for any signs of rust or corrosion.
• Is the property in a flood zone? Has it previously flooded?
#5 Is the property suitable?
It’s easy to fall in love with a property and totally forget to ask about external factors like parking, local schools and phone reception. Often these are the sort of things, you just assume are going to be ok. Only to find out when you move in that you can’t change the windows, for instance, because it’s a protected heritage area.
Here a few things to check beforehand:
• Do you need a parking permit and how much do they cost yearly?
• What are the local amenities? E.g. how far is the local supermarket, restaurant, leisure facility.
• Practice your journey to work. How long does it take? Is local transport reliable?
• Visit the property at different times to see how the neighbourhood feels in the morning versus the evening.
• Ask neighbours why they like living in the area.
Need advice on how to sell a property with a short lease?
If you need to sell a property with a short lease but don’t want to pay for an expensive extension, don’t worry. You can use House Buy Fast who regularly buy properties with short leases for cash.
Author – Monika Hofman