Choosing a new house isn’t just about ‘location, location, location’ it’s also about knowing as much as possible about the properties you’re interested in. After all, you don’t want to buy a house where there’s been a gruesome murder or where the neighbour is in a heavy metal band.
Home reports and surveys can give you a lot of information about the condition of the building and how energy efficient it is, but this doesn’t tell you what it’s like to live there. To find out more about this you need to have a really good look around the property and ask lots of questions to the current owners and neighbours.
We’ve pulled together a list of things to look at and questions to ask, but please comment and tell us your experiences.
Whether you’re buying a house or a flat, most people will spend a lot of time in the kitchen so it’s worth working out whether you’re comfortable with it. Stand at the sink and the cooker and try to work out if there is enough room to work your magic – if it’s too small then you may always resent buying the property.
If you love the property and the area, but are expecting your family to grow in the future, then investigate whether an extension is possible. It should be obvious if a loft extension is possible but check out what the neighbours have done and whether anyone has extended into the back garden. If none of the neighbours have then it would be worth contacting the local planning department to ask for guidance.
If you’re new to the area then ask the council tax band and how much it costs. Remember, a mortgage isn’t the only expenditure when buying a house.
If you’re looking to buy a flat then ask what the service charge is, who the factor is and what they are like to deal with. You should also ask if there has been any recent work done to the building or if there is any outstanding. You don’t want to buy the flat and then find out you need to spend hundreds of pounds having the close painted.
Fixtures and fittings:
When you buy a new property you probably want to put your own stamp on the place and redecorate some of the rooms to your own taste. What you don’t want to do is spend lots of money fixing things that they previous occupant left to decay for years. As such, it’s important to find out as much as possible and try and negotiate any issues into the price of the sale.
Ask when the property was last rewired. New electronics equipment and gizmos can draw a lot of power and old circuits might struggle to cope. If the wiring is 30 years old then you may need to spend a lot of money to upgrade in order to cope with modern demand.
The condition of the kitchen is also important. Test some of the drawers and cupboards and look under the sink for signs of wear or leaks. If the kitchen is worn then you might be looking at large expenditure for a new one and this should be reflected in the price you offer for the property.
Enquire about the boiler and central heating system. You need to know how old the boiler is, whether it’s a combi boiler, if it’s under guarantee and if it’s electric, mains or tanked gas.
After enquiring about the boiler you might also want to run the hot water to see how long it takes to heat up and what the pressure is like. If the pressure is low then it’s worth remembering the shower might not be as good as your current system.
Neighbours and area:
So you’ve found a nice property near the best school, close to the park and the railway station, that’s all you need to know right? Wrong. To find out whether this is the perfect place to setup home then you really need to find out what the neighbours are like and what the area is like to live in.
Crime is one of the biggest deterrents to living in any area so it’s important to find out what your potential new home is like. Researching the local crime statistics is only part of the story and it’s worth asking the current occupants and neighbours for more information. Ask if there have been any burglaries or car break-ins in the past couple of years and if it’s an area where teenagers hang around at night.
If you are looking to buy a flat then neighbours are even more important. By going to the door and asking some questions you should be able to work out if they are students, have children or have pets. Living below a flat where they leave two Doberman alone all night might cause you a few sleepless nights.
For anyone looking to buy property in a city or busy town then finding a parking space can be a big issue. If you don’t have your own off-street parking then visit the property at night and during the day to see how easy it is to get a space. If you’re got children and are regularly going to be parking round the corner then it might not be the property for you.
These questions should help you in your search for the perfect home but there will always be other things to look out for. Please add a comment with any questions or ideas that have been useful when you’ve been house hunting in the past…