Hunting for a new house is always an exciting time, you'll no doubt be looking for somewhere that you can imagine yourself living. Keeping an eye out for particular features important to you which could be a large garden, an ensuite in the master bedroom, or a downstairs toilet.
If you're coming from rented accommodation, you may have experienced the rush to put a deposit down once you find a decent place otherwise it'll soon be taken by someone else. With house buying, it's different. Don't rush - you will likely have time to view the property 2 or 3 times before making a decision, and you want to ensure you ask all the right questions.
In 2017 Zoopla carried out research which showed that 24% of buyers make a decision on a property within the first ten minutes of the viewing! However if this decision is a yes, it could cause problems later down the line. Here are ten questions worth asking before you take the plunge.
Is the area nice?
It's not all about the house itself, the property must be situated in an area you're happy with. If city life is important to you, what good would it be moving in to a house in the countryside - especially if you don't have a car?
Keep an eye out for amenities in the area around the home - common things taken into account are schools, supermarkets, shops, restaurants and cafes. Google Maps will be able to show you most of this before you even visit the property.
Ask the agents if there are plans to build new houses or businesses near the property. This can affect traffic throughout the area, house prices, any views the property may have, and the desirability of the area.
Are there any structural issues?
When you're walking round the house, check for cracks in walls. Hairline cracks are expected when a property settles, but large cracks can indicate subsidence.
Are the windows mouldy or is there condensation between the double glazing? Windows can be expensive to replace.
Use your nose - are there any musty smells pointing towards damp?
One often missed is wiring - check the power sockets and ask when the wiring was last done in the house.
What about the plumbing?
Have a look at how old the boiler is - an older boiler will be less energy efficient but also costly to replace.
Check the radiators, taps and shower - no-one wants a drippy shower!
Feel free to check under the kitchen sink for any water damage indicating faulty plumbing.
What's the reason for the seller moving?
Often it'll be a reason which doesn't affect your decision, like they need more bedrooms for a growing family. However, sometimes it could. For example, the house may just need too much money spending on it to fix it up.
Meet the neighbours
It can be helpful to meet the neighbours. After all, especially if you're in an attached house, you will be living in close quarters. Ask the seller if the neighbours are noisy, or often throw parties.
Can you get parked up?
Many newer estates lack parking spaces, so if the house doesn't come with a garage and/or parking space, see if it would be difficult to get parked.
What are the other properties like?
Research how much other properties in the area, specifically on the same street, have sold for recently.
If you think the house is worth more than it is, you could risk your mortgage application being rejected. Also find out how long it has been on the market for. If it's been several months, there could be something you've missed so ask the estate agents.
How much are the bills?
Ask the seller how much their council tax, water and energy bills are. If it's a flat, check the price of ground rent and service charges.
How strong are the signals?
Take a look at your mobile phone inside the house, is the signal strong or weak?
Go online and check the broadband speed for the area. If it's slow and you're a gamer or love streaming the latest shows, you may want to reconsider.
What else to watch out for when viewing houses
The more obvious things to consider are the location of the property, its size, value, and condition. You may write a checklist of things you're looking for like good garden size and friendly neighbourhood.
There are more subtle things to look for during viewings though, and here are the top 5.
Look at the floor
We mean more than just a glance where you notice if the floor is carpet, wood or laminate. Take a closer look. Is there any sagging or dipping of the floor? Don't just step into a room, walk around it and see if the floor slants at all. If you notice anything, it could be an indication that there's structural issues with plumbing which could be costly down the line to fix.
Smell fresh paint?
A lick of new paint may look fresh and attractive, and sometimes even smell appealing, but could it be hiding anything?
Check the quality of the painting, has it been quickly thrown on as if hiding something, or properly fully covered and neatly finished off?
If you're suspicious, it won't hurt to ask if there are any problems. A particular issue to look for is damp or mould. Damp is a big issue no home owner wants to take on, and paint can cover up both the stain and the smell.
Check plumbing and wiring
Throughout the house, keep an eye out for any exposed wiring or dodgy plug sockets which could hint at sub-standard electrics. Getting the house rewired can be expensive so it would be better if it could be avoided.
The same goes for plumbing, take a look for any bodge-jobs and if you see anything suspicious, ask about it.
It can also be a good idea to bring an expert along for a second visit if you're seriously considering buying the property.
Second opinions matter
This is especially important if you're buying a doer-upper. When looking for a home to renovate, it can be a good idea to bring an architect along with you. This is because an architect has the knowledge and skills to advise you on any fixes that need to be made, and if there are any issues which would just be a sink hole on your finances.
Hi to the homeowner
If you can, meet the homeowner. Sometimes they will be the one conducting the viewing, but sometimes it'll be the estate agent so you may need to request a meeting.
Estate agents may know about the local area, but the owner knows more about the house as they've lived there for however many years. Therefore, the owner knows the history of the property and any changes they have made to it.
It's best to be informed about all repairs and any warranties which come with them, and the owner should be able to pass over all the paperwork upon completion.
Are there any extras?
Sometimes when someone sells a house, they decide to leave some items which aren't worth moving. For example, are they leaving that shed in the garden? Are they leaving the curtains or will you need to measure up and buy a few pairs?