Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Things to consider before buying your first piece of property.

Buying your first piece of property will always be nerve wracking. It usually represents a huge jump into the unknown, on many different levels. If you have never lived away from your parents, a lot of little things you take for granted become your responsibility. You’ll have new routines and locations to memories. Plus you can never be 100% satisfied with a house until you have moved in.

But there are some things you can do to help settle these nerves, and make sure you aren’t buying a flat that will have you tearing your hair out for the rest of your time there. Here are some tips we have come up with that should help the process.

True cost of living

Step 1 - Buy a calculator, because you’ll need it! Before you begin, you’ll have likely lashed out a nice little budget for your new home, including an upper limit for the mortgage/rent cost, and things like food, furniture etc. That's really important to include all the cost, even if you are pet owner for example, include the costs of keeping your pet, which actually may be quite high, check it out here. It supprised me a little to be honest.  
Before you even set foot in a flat, talk to anybody you can to see what hidden costs you have left off the list so far. Ideally, you’ll know somebody in a similar situation, so you can have something resembling a direct comparison, but if not, just talk to anybody you know who owns/rents a property.

Once you start viewing the flats, you can start to make more sense of everything.
Does major work need to be done? All of these and many more will crop up, especially if you get a surveyor in to check the place over (highly recommended). Only then can you have a truly accurate cost estimate (excluding unexpected costs). And the bigger the gap between that figure and your budget, the better. Don’t live close to the limit, as you’ll end up with little money to save or spend on non-essentials.
There is very interesting article about things most likely to affect value of property here. Worth checking.

Scope everything out

Cliche or not, it is true - property is all about location, location, location. You can redecorate a flat, but you can’t up and move it. Estate agents will only tell you so much (more on that later), so it is up to you do put the research in. Firstly, scope out the extended neighbourhood. Go in the shops, eat at the local restaurants, and just generally walk around. If there is graffiti, police sirens and stray dogs everywhere, it may be best to avoid the area! Follow this up with online research into such things as schools, local authority, crime rates, etc..

Secondly, alternate your visiting times. This might not always be convenient, but it is vital. If you only see the flat at 1pm on a weekday, you won’t be getting the full picture. Go in the evenings when schools are out, and early on weekend mornings. If at all possible, consider stopping for the day in a local Bed and Breakfast, and walk past your potential property at different points of the day.

Ask the right questions

This will require you to be very switched on, but it could uncover some potentially roadblocks. Estate agents are there to sell a property. They can be nice, personable, and generally interested in getting you the right flat, but at the end of the day, they have a job to do. They live by the motto of “Accentuate the positives, hide the negatives”. So keep tabs on what they are drawing your attention away from. If they are quiet on the bathroom, or won’t leave you alone when you’re upstairs, try to spot faults. You may not be able to spot everything, but you can take note and pass the info along to a surveyor.

Get advice from professionals

Buying a property is no joke, it is a very serious financial decision. Make sure you get a professional advice from property experts and solicitors before you make any decisions. The Citizens Advice Bureau has  more info on the subject here, and you can find important information on buying property here on gov.uk.   

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