First time buyer? Here's everything you need to look out for!*relief*

By Iona Bain
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Thinking about moving into your first home? Be aware to look out for these.

If you are a first time buyer, you might think it would be easy to move on after a couple of years. But bear in mind every move ends up costing you a lot of money - in fees, legal costs, moving expenses, and so on. So it pays to think ahead.

Future-proofing

Will your first home keep its value for two years – or might it even go down in price?

The key is to choose a home that is a least a bit future-proofed, so you can stay a bit longer if you need to.  If you are planning a family, can it cope? Could you get a pram up those stairs?  Is there scope to extend into the loft, or at the back, in the future?

Owning a home should get steadily more affordable. You will splash the cash at the beginning on furniture and improvements, your earnings might improve, and hopefully the cost of the mortgage won’t bring any nasty surprises, even if you have to re-mortgage to a new deal after two, three or five years. So budget permitting, try to pick somewhere that will suit your needs for years to come - and that you won’t quickly tire of.

What really matters?

Accept that you probably can’t have absolutely everything you want from your chosen property. So it pays to focus on the things that are important to you, and get the best value you can, rather than end up paying more money for a property with features you don’t really care about. Too many people make mistakes in buying property, which can affect your well-being and your finances. To solve this problem, here's a article on how to find the right property.

Make your own checklist of what you do and don’t need. These are helpful considerations;

- close to transport

- off-street parking

- closeness to busy road, school playground, industrial site;

- garden or just a yard or patio

- overlooked or with a view

- fireplace

- gas supply.

 

Not everyone can move into a show-home or so-called “turnkey” property. If you can see beyond the present state of a property, and are prepared to roll your sleeves up or spend a modest budget, you could find yourself a hidden gem. For instance, much of what might put you off in a house or flat is often superficial: the present owner’s taste in furniture, the colour scheme, the uses of rooms, untidiness. These are cosmetic rather than structural problems and nothing that a bit of wallpaper stripper, paint or even plastering can’t solve.

But on the other hand, some negative features cannot easily be magicked away: awkward-shaped rooms, narrow corridors, bathroom in the wrong place, not enough natural light, signs of chronic problems with damp, infestation, subsidence, or flood damage. If any of these are flagged up in your investigations, it might be better to walk away rather than make them your problem.

Homing in on the right one

They say people viewing a property know within seconds whether it’s right or not. But even if, or especially if, you have fallen in love with a place, it pays to be devil’s advocate and ask the tough and smart questions about it. Quiz the agent.  How long has it been on the market? How many viewings has it had? How many offers? Has it been listed with other agents previously? Is the seller in a chain? How long have they lived there and why are they selling up?  If there is a lease, how long is it?  Are the gas and electric installation reports all OK?  Has the roof been checked recently? How old is the boiler?  What about the wiring?  Have there been any renovations or improvements and of so when were they done?  If there is a real fireplace, is the chimney usable? Are there any shared facilities? Where is the water main, and the fusebox?  What’s included in the sale?  What is the council tax band?

Is that plant in the garden Japanese knotweed by any chance? Are those tall trees not only blocking out light but too close to the house and its foundations?  

If you suspect there might be a hidden problem with a property that hasn’t sold, you could try talking to neighbours or to rival estate agents.

If like most people you are too daunted or time poor to take on the conveyancing yourself, the first step is to find a solicitor or conveyancer and “instruct them” to do it for you. The estate agent is likely to have a business relationship with a solicitor or conveyance and ‘recommend’ them! To know more about how to navigate the legal jungle click here.

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