House buying checklist

Thinking of moving to a bigger space, or perhaps you’re a first time buyer looking to purchase your first home? Whether you’re looking for a one bed flat or a family home, we’ve put together a handy checklist to help ensure your head takes over when your heart might want to do all the decision making!

Check out the neighbourhood 

Depending on your circumstances, you’ll be expecting different things from the area you want to live in. If you have young children, school catchment areas and transport links are likely to be high up on your priority list. If you’re a young professional buying their first home, either on your own or with a friend or partner, it might be useful to have a post office, supermarket or pub nearby.  It’s worth making a list of amenities that are important to you and then taking a good look around the neighbourhood you’re thinking of moving to – does it have everything you’re looking for?

Keep an eye out for damp

Before you even enter the property, have a look around the outside for any tell-tale signs of damp. Are there cracks in the brickwork, or loose tiles on the roof? Inside, make sure there aren’t any funny smells that could indicate a problem. Can you spot any mould or damp on the ceilings, particularly in the bathroom or kitchen? Is there plenty of ventilation to prevent any future issues with damp?

Who owns what?

If the property comes with any land or parking spaces, make sure you know who the rightful owner is.  Don’t just take the estate or letting agents word for it – if you’re not sure, have a look at the land registry title deeds as this should outline any land that comes with the property.

Can you afford it?

Find out how much of a mortgage you can raise before you start looking around properties - there’s no point falling in love with a £200,000 property if you can only afford £120,000. Speak to your chosen mortgage provider and ask for a ‘mortgage in principle’ so your estate agent and sellers know that you’re a serious prospect.  You could have more leverage on making an offer if the seller knows you already have a mortgage agreed. 

Now that you have a few ideas about the type of property you might like to buy, here are a few questions to ask yourself or the estate agent before you put in an offer - you could even print it out the checklist and take it with you!

House hunting checklist

Outside

  • What is the brickwork like? Are there any cracks? If the walls are rendered, what is the condition like?
  • Are there any missing tiles on the roof?
  • What do the gutters and drains look like?
  • Do the fascias (wooden section under the roof) look well kept?

Inside

  • Do all the light switches work?
  • Is the house well-decorated or are you going to need to redecorate throughout?
  • Can you smell or see any damp or mould?
  • What do the windows look like?  Are they likely to need replacing? Do the locks work and are there any keys?
  • Are there any cracks in the walls or ceilings, how big are they?
  • What about power sockets? Are there enough in each room?
  • Storage is key – where will you put the hoover, your boots & coats?

Garden

  • Are you a keen gardener? Will the garden take much work?
  • Is the garden overlooked?
  • What direction does it face, is it south facing?

General

  • Is there a garage, off-road or on-road parking? If on-road, will you need a permit? How much do permits cost in the area?
  • What's the mobile phone coverage like?
  • Check where the boiler is located.  How old is it, and has it been regularly serviced?
  • Is there a loft? If so, how easy is it to access and might there be an opportunity to convert it and add value to the property? 
  • Is the property in a conservation area or is it a listed building?

Viewing a flat?

  • Is it leasehold or freehold? If leasehold, how many years are left on the lease?
  • How much is the service charge? What services are shared?
  • What condition are the communal areas in?
  • Is there any outdoor space, is it shared?
  • How much noise do you hear from the neighbours?
  • Is there a residents’ association?

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