A House Buyers Checklist

House hunting can be an exciting experience but you can often forget the most vital questions. It is important to take your time and make sure the property suits your requirements. It needs to be your dream home, so don’t rush it. When buying a house, it usually involves a compromise or two. This could be anything from the location to the size of the property. We have come up with a useful checklist for anyone who is planning to go on a viewing. These are just a few things to look out for, but each buyer will have their own preferences. So let’s get started…

Top 10 Questions To Ask The Agent/Seller

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1. Is the property leasehold or freehold?

This is always a vital question to ask. Is the property leasehold or freehold?

Why does this matter? As mentioned previously, a leasehold can vary from a limited time to a very long lease of 999 years. Talk to your estate agents and your solicitor about the intricacies of leasehold vs. freehold. It is a complicated area and it is best to seek expert advice. 

2. How long is the lease?

If you are buying a leasehold property, you should always check the length of the lease. You don’t want to buy a home that only has a few years left, before the lease expires. If this is the case, always ask about the possibility of a lease extension, and how much it will cost. Some buyers will want to buy a home that has a short lease with a view to renovate a tired property and extend the lease.

3. How long has the property been on the market? 

This is an obvious question but it is always worth asking. This gives you an indication as to how keen the owner is to sell. You should also ask if there are others interested in the property. If the owner is at the property during the viewing, it is a useful time to ask any questions you may have on your mind.

4. What is the area like?

Don’t just view a property once, but view it several times. Canny buyers will look at their potential new home during the week, weekends and in the evenings. You are not only viewing the interior, you will need to check the surrounding neighbourhood, too. 

5. Is there damp? 

When walking into a property, you may notice whether the property has damp. There are tell-tale signs, including flaky plaster work and possible stains on the walls or maybe ceilings. If you notice damp, mention this to your estate agent and your surveyor.

6. How much is the service charge?

It is always worth asking the annual service charge rate if you are buying an apartment. They can range from a few hundred to thousands of pounds. It is better to know before you purchase the property, so you can factor this into your budget. 

7. Are there any major works planned? 

Areas are constantly evolving, with improved infrastructure or transportation. It is worth asking whether there are any works planned for the area or nearby. Major works may include: improving roads in the neighbourhood or new transportation links.

8. How old is the plumbing and wiring?

Some home-buyers forget to check the plumbing and the wiring. Expert advice is highly-recommended as it is a technical area. However, simple things to check on a viewing could include: running the tap/shower for water pressure, asking the age of the boiler and looking whether the pipes are insulated.

9. How old is the roof?

If the roof has been recently repaired, then it is a reassuring sign that the property is cared for by its current owners. Enquire when the roof was last repaired as this an important factor to consider. Depending on the materials used for the roof and the location, it will determine how long it will last and whether it will stand the test of time. If you have any concerns, you can raise these with your surveyor or take further advice.

10. Is the property sound proof?

Many properties have measures in place to reduce interior and exterior noise. Does the property have double glazing or secondary glazing? This will help to minimise external sound from cars and buses in the surrounding area. Carpets, curtains and rugs can reduce noise internally, too. You can also ask you’re your estate agent about the insulation of the walls for peace of mind. 

How to know if a property is right for you

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1. You can immediately see yourself living there

Sometimes, a home can just ‘feel right’, and you shouldn’t ignore that feeling. “The feelings evoked in the buyer when they first step into a home will dictate to their subconscious what it would feel like to live there. Almost all the decisions you make when buying the perfect home revolve around the ‘dream’ of a home or lifestyle”, says Christelle Rentsch of Fine & Country Kempton Park. Pay attention to how you feel when you step through the door of a home, and try to picture your life inside it. If you can see yourself living in the house (and your thoughts about the house are positive), it may be the home for you.

2. It ticks all (or almost all) of the boxes

As a buyer, it’s very important to analyse your needs before looking at homes. You’ll have a specific idea in mind, which narrows your search and keeps the agent from showing you properties that don’t fit your specifications. 

According to agent Annemarie Cilliers of Fine & Country Durbanville, dividing your list into ‘negotiables’ and ‘non-negotiables’ can save you plenty of time and heartache. If a house ticks all your ‘non-negotiables’, and many of your ‘negotiables’, it’s certainly worth considering.

3. It caters to your needs

Have a look at the floor plan of the house you’d like to buy. Does it have a kitchen, lounge, and bedrooms that are the correct size for your life? If not, it may not be the right home for you. Paint colour, tiles, and countertops can all be changed simply, but a floor plan cannot be changed without significant effort. If you’re purchasing a house with a plan to improve it, be sure to factor in renovation costs into the cost of the property.

4. You’re in love with the neighbourhood – not just the house

A house isn’t simply a house. “When you purchase a home, you also purchase a lifestyle” says agent Linda Erasmus of Fine & Country Sub-Sahara Africa. “Normally buyers are trying to upgrade or downgrade their current lifestyle.” Consider your own lifestyle, and what you’d like to keep and what you’d like to change.

Buying property is extremely personal and everyone has their different reasons for buying, be it wanting more space, good transport links, schools, parks, rivers, and so on. Be clear about what you expect from your home before you start looking, because these are non-negotiables that will affect your happiness long-term.

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