Published 21st May 2019
Starting to think about buying property? If you are a first time buyer, you may be wondering what to look for when visiting show houses. How do you know whether that seemingly perfect home is the right place for you and your family? How can you tell whether there are any problems that could end up costing you a lot in the long run? Buying property is both exciting and scary, with plenty to think about from the moment you begin your search. To make things a little bit easier, we share some tips on what to look for when buying your first property.
Some of the most important things to note when buying property include the following:
The underlying structure of the property is, needless to say, important on many levels. Obviously, be wary if you see very large cracks. If you notice any smaller hairline cracks around the spaces where extensions join, bay windows, and end-of-terrace walls, be aware that these could affect the structure over time. Make a note of such cracks and speak to your building surveyor for further investigation.
2/ Storage space
This is an aspect that is often overlooked. You may get caught up in the more obvious features if the property, without thinking about storage space. Look at cupboards, shelves, and other space that will allow you to store large and small items, from vacuum cleaners to spare linen, boxes, and other items. Look in all rooms as well as central areas.
3/ House direction
Another feature that many house hunters forget to consider, the direction of the property can also be important. During the cold winter months, this won't affect you much. During the summer, it can mean that you either have a home that receives lots of sunlight or one that is dark and gloomy. You can take a compass along to check which way the house faces. You can also even choose a time of day that shows the amount of light the house gets at its best, such as afternoon.
4/ Room size
This one is fairly obvious. There are many tricks that new home developers might use to make rooms seem bigger than they are, however, so it is not always easy to gauge room size. Look carefully at each room and don't be afraid to ask if dimensions are available. You could even bring a tape measure to check the size of the rooms.
5/ Window frames
Things to look out for in window frames include cracking paint, double glazing, and any other signs that window frames may not be in the best condition. If window frames are left to weather or rot, they may allow more air to enter – never good in the cold winter months.
Although you don't have to expect a brand new roof, you should make sure that the roof is in relatively good shape. A newish roof or at least one that has been fixed or replaced in the last five years or so is ideal. If the property has a flat roof, look at how it has been sealed. Ensure your property's roof is in good condition with a property survey.
Another thing to note is the number of powerpoints in the house and whether they are in good condition. If there are a limited number of points, it may lead to plugs being overloaded, which is never safe. Properties that have ample plugpoints are therefore far more of an investment than those with only one or two.
You should also check the plumbing when buying property. Run the taps and test the water pressure. Don't be shy to ask about pipe insulation (and check that they are not lead pipes that may have to be replaced). Check that radiators work, too, as well as the boiler. Get a professional to check your property with a building survey.
Another feature that is often overlooked is the quality of sound-proofing within the property. See if you can hear any noises from neighbouring properties and check the thickness of the walls to get a general idea of how well the property protects sound.
9/ Staging tricks
Look out for sneaky tricks that may be used to hide issues that cannot be seen easily. Fresh coats of pain, careful lighting, mirrors placed carefully in key areas, and various other strategies are used to make buyers fall in love with properties. Always ask what the seller is leaving behind to be on the safe side.
Finally, another thing to consider is the area itself. Ask the seller what they love about the area and do your own research as well. Find out about schools, restaurants, shops, and other facilities within the area. Check the crime rate and do a walk in the area to take in the surrounds.
We hope these tips help it easier to find the property of your dream. For additional help in buying property, our conveyancing specialists are standing by to assist throughout the process.