As the property market in 2018 shows no signs of slowing down, we wanted to give you some advice on how to make your house purchase as smooth as possible. In this article we cover how to prepare, what to look for and how to deal with different situations that you will encounter along the way.
1. Have your finance in place
If you are buying with a mortgage you should speak to an independent advisor before you start viewing to ensure you know exactly what your budget is and what you can comfortably afford. If you are looking at a property that gets multiple offers you are far more likely to get an offer accepted if you have already taken mortgage advice.
If you are a cash purchaser then expect to have to provide proof of funds when you offer on a property so have a statement ready to put you ahead of the competition.
2. Research your area
Are you planning on a long-term move? If so, have you researched the schools, the transport links, outdoor activities available? Are you next to establishments that may be loud late at night like takeaways and pubs? If you want to be somewhere more rural think about travel time and visiting people. Are you interested in community groups and are there any on offer? Think about planning permissions in place that may affect you.
Moving house is expensive, you don’t want to do it twice if it isn’t in the plan!
3. What to look for on viewings
Is the property structurally sound? Look for major cracks in walls or doorways that are sloping. Damp patches around the skirting boards or ceilings are a dead giveaway but also flaky paint and mouldy smells can indicate a damp property.
Is there enough storage for you?Not only wardrobes but think about the loft access, under the stairs for mops, vacuum cleaners etc
It is very rare that people’s budgets allow for everything on their list and the majority of people will have to compromise on one or more things that are on the dream-property list. Have a think about it before you start your search, it would be a shame to miss out on a fantastic property because you were looking for something unachievable.
5. Offer negotiation
As above, having your proof of funds in place will certainly help speed the process up. There will be a lot of advice from people who don’t know the local market or your circumstances so be careful who you listen to. Conduct your own research, does the current valuation represent value compared to other properties on the market and previously sold properties in the area? Were there a lot of people viewing the property, indicating a lot of buyers may offer? If you are planning on living in your dream house for many years, will you care in the future if you have ‘overpaid’ a little for it?
6. Choosing a law firm
Conveyancing is almost certainly an area where the cheapest isn’t always the best as you could find your file sat in a pile with 100’s of others and risk losing your property if it is not handled properly. You want someone reliable who is recommended by friends, family or your estate agent. You will find that some agents have a panel of conveyancers that they refer to, they may even get a small referral fee but if they have a close relationship and can get you rapid updates that speed your purchase up it is well worth it.
7. Interpreting a survey
Depending on the age and condition of the property you may be advised to pay extra for a homebuyers report or in extreme circumstances a structural survey. Be aware that although these surveys are there to highlight issues with the property, there can also a be a lot of things that are advised ‘could be issues’ and marked as a 3 (poor) rating. In the majority of cases, this will be things like electrical issues, gas checks, damp & timber issues and the roof. It is commonplace for these 4 categories to be marked ‘3’ but in many cases getting professional reports will pass them off so don’t panic when you get your survey back – call your agent to discuss getting the correct professional reports done.
8. Keeping in touch
A good agent will keep in touch with you every step of the way so you are informed of what is happening and when you can expect progress. If you are lucky enough to be buying a property with no chain then you have a lot less to worry about, but if not, there will be a lot going on behind the scenes making sure things go through smoothly. A good agent will keep you informed all the way but if you feel that you aren’t being kept in the loop, be sure to call and ask for an update.
9. Get insured
You are legally responsible for your new property when you exchange contracts, not when you complete and mortgage companies will not exchange without you having buildings insurance in place, so it is vital to get it in place from this date. As there is only usually a week or two between exchange and completion, it is prudent to arrange your contents insurance at the same time so you don’t forget and you can renew them both at the same time.
10. Packing for the big day
Start by being ruthless – only take what you will need and try to have a clear out. Mark each box room by room so boxes can be easily distributed in your new home. Pack liquids (bleaches etc) separately and take extra care in transit. Keep a box of essential items that travel in your car, things like a kettle, coffee, milk and even some snacks so you can keep any helpers you have enlisted fed & watered!