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Tips on Finding the Right Property
Use a good property search site
Finding the right online tools can be the most important step in your journey. In effect, they allow you to take more control over your purchasing decisions. You’ll not only want to search for properties, but you’ll want to compare them and budget for them.
Chat to your local estate agent
Even with the power of online tools, your local estate agent still has a very useful role to play. They can supply you with the local knowledge you need to make the best decisions about where and when to buy. Speak to a trusted local agent early on in your home buying journey to get a good idea of the situation on the ground. This is particularly useful if you are new to the area.
Find out how much other houses have sold for
Finding out how much nearby houses are and been have sold for is a really useful way of giving yourself an accurate price bracket to work in. The housing market is actually very predictable in this sense. Similar properties in similar locations will command very similar prices. In fact, the local sale price of similar properties is the single biggest influence on a valuation.
Check out the neighbourhood before making an offer
This can be as simple as taking a walk around the locale a few times, and chatting with the people on the street. This is particularly useful if you don’t come from that area, as it will give you a good feeling about whether you can live there comfortably or not. Be sure to take numerous trips to the area at different times, to make sure you get a real idea of what it’s like.
Watch out for flood risk
Floods are a very real threat in the UK, and the country’s flood insurance system has been completely revamped to ensure everyone has access to affordable flood insurance. Be aware that any property that has flooded in the past will likely flood again. Remember that flooding can be an incredibly traumatic experience and require a great deal of work to rectify.
Check out upcoming devlopments
What’s up and coming in an area is a great indicator of how that area will look in 5 years or so. Big brands like Cytonn and Hass Consult are very much early adopters in up and coming areas, so look out for those. Also look out for the kind of businesses opening up in the area. Are they school clothing shops, or bars and nightclubs? Find out at the local authority’s planning department.
Squeeze sellers for info
Remember that the sellers are people too. It’s unlikely they’re the best salespeople in the world, so try to get key information from them if you get to speak to them in person. You may only have a few minutes to grill them, so be sure to have a mental list of the most important questions. If you ask, you’ll probably get very honest answers.
MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK SELLERS
- How long has it been on the market?
- Have you had any problems with the property/neighbours?
- Has any extension work been approved by the planning department?
- Why are you selling?
- Exactly what is included in the sale?
Also be sure to take photos and notes when viewing
Take photos and notes when viewing
The human brain can only retain so much information. Every property you view should be assessed by the same criteria. That means you need to have all the appropriate information to hand when you are making a decision later on. The best way to do this is with a notepad and camera. Be sure to note and photograph any flaws, or problems that could create issues later down the line.
View at different times during the day
Much like getting a picture of the local area at different times of day, you’ll want to see the property in – literally – different lights. It’s all well and good viewing it on a sunny morning, but what about in the evening? Is there a major road nearby that might affect your sleep? Is there a noisy pub down the road? Making sure you visit a property more than once will help you avoid many problems.
Get alerts on your favourite streets
This can be done using online tools or from your local estate agent. Once you have established the streets in which you want to live, be sure to sign up for alerts, either to your mobile phone or via email, when the right property pops up. What’s more, you should react quickly to these alerts, as you can be sure that others are too.
Gazumping is still a problem, albeit less so that in the past. In Scotland legislation has effectively stamped it out. Across the rest of the UK though, it’s wise to be aware that deal breakers still exist, and what to look out for. A gazumping case can cost you hundreds or even thousands in buying costs. All you’re going to be left with is a survey of a property you won’t ever own.
HOW TO SPOT A DEAL BREAKER:
- They won’t take the property off the market when you make an offer
- They drag their feet just before completion
- They don’t want to speak to you directly
Knock on neighbours doors
You may not feel super comfortable doing this, but you’ll find you can get a really good picture of the local area from your potential neighbours. It’s one of the best ways to get the truth about a property. It may even bring up structural queries that a seller has neglected to disclose, which you can then grill the agent about, and possibly get a price drop.
Will you be able to sell the property when you move?
It’s very important for most buyers to know that they will have an easy time selling when the time comes to buy the next property. While it’s impossible to be 100% sure about the future of any area, things like schools, central locations and close proximity to transit hubs will make your property easier to sell later down the line. Things like noisy nightclubs or new roads may also change the value of your home, so check with the local planning department for any new developments.
Beware homes with fewer than 70 years on the lease
This can be a tricky issue that is often overlooked. Most lenders won’t lend on properties with less than 70 years on the lease. If you’re planning to stay in a property for a long time, consider the lease carefully. Your only option later down the line may be to buy or extend the lease, which can wind up being quite costly and will offer you no real benefit past making your property saleable again.
Write a letter to potential sellers
This is where a property search consultant will really come into their own. With a carefully written offer letter, you can highlight the benefits of your offer, and potentially get a much better deal on the property. It can also personalise your offer, making it much more likely to be accepted. Ultimately, sellers are regular people, so a little bit of human interest goes a long way.
With a carefully written offer letter, you can highlight the benefits of your offer, and potentially get a much better deal on your property.
Beware rip-off leasehold service charges
One of the most common problems buyers find with buying apartments is the sometimes extortionate service charges made by freeholders. There are specific measures you can take if you find yourself on the wrong side of these charges, namely a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal, but this can be avoided simply by finding out about any service charges prior to making an offer, as well as finding out how much they’ve increased by on average over the last few years.
Don’t overlook homes offered by government schemes
Right to Buy, Right to Acquire and Help to Buy should all feature into your options at some point or another; the property market is well favoured by the UK government, and offers a lot more help to buy properties than governments in other countries. These can be especially useful for first time buyers, or those looking to get back on the property ladder.
Investigate property auctions
One of the most attractive ways to buy for those looking for a real steal is the property auction. However, it is fraught with black holes and hidden dangers. Not only will you likely be bidding against very experienced buyers, but you may not necessarily know the exact extent of any problems with the properties up for auction. Often auction properties have issues that make them difficult to sell on the open market, so be well aware of that and do your research before you start bidding.
- Often cheaper properties
- Very quick sales
- You could get really lucky
- Often problem properties
- Bidding can get out of control
- You could wind up with a turkey
Remember: it might take a while to find your dream place
No matter what kind of place you’re looking for, you shouldn’t rush your purchasing decisions. The whole process can be frustrating and take you on a real rollercoaster of emotions, so it’s hugely important to understand how long it might take. Hiring a property search consultant is a really good way to stay in the know about timings and progress, as it’s their job to make sure you have everything you need at every stage of the purchase.
No matter how hard things get, stay calm and try to ensure that you don’t make decisions at particularly emotional times. At every stage, there are common mistakes that can easily be made if you don’t keep a calm head. Use the expertise of those around you, and remember that you can keep track of, plan and organise every stage of your property buying journey using our Milestone Tracker and other online tools.
Browse through our website for available properties or contact us for your custom solution…