The questions you must ask before you buy a property


Updated on 01 February 2017

Before you buy your next home make sure you ask these questions.

Do you have to move?

The first question you should ask yourself is if you really need to move house. This depends on your circumstances, but if you’re moving for a new job it may be more cost effective to rent.

Can you afford it?

Getting advice from a mortgage broker can give you an idea of how much you’ll need to buy your new home and how much you’ll be able to borrow.

You can get a good idea of what you'll pay for a mortgage by comparing mortgages

On top of the deposit you’ll need quite a bit extra to cover everything from the mortgage arrangement fee and Stamp Duty to removal costs and house repairs.

In any kind of property transaction, you also need to find a good solicitor to act on your behalf. 

How much space do you need?

Moving is expensive and stressful. So to minimise the number of times you do it, think of how much space you need – both now and in the future.

If you’re planning a family, then more rooms will be needed. Similarly, check out the garden space to see if there’s any potential for building an extension.

Home interior how much space do you need : Shutterstock

Is the property in a good location?

When you find a house, don’t just consider the building but look around at the local area as well.

If you can’t do it person you can use Google Maps to take a virtual walk down the streets near properties you’re interested in to check out local public transport links, shops, restaurants, libraries and schools.

If you’re unfamiliar with an area it may be worth renting there first before you buy.

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Will it be safe to live in?

It’s hard to get a thorough impression of a property without living there, so research as much as you can by checking local crime levels, speaking to the neighbours and asking about potential risks of flooding.

To check up on the safety in the area look at police figures using www.crime-statistics.co.uk to find out what incidents there have been and to compare areas. CheckMyStreet is also a useful resource.

Car burglary check the crime rate for your area : Shutterstock

Is the property leasehold or freehold?

You should check whether the property is freehold or leasehold. Most flats in the UK are leasehold, but more and more new build houses are being sold as leasehold.

If the property is leasehold find out how long the lease runs for and the price of renewing it.

You should also check what the service charge and ground rent is for a leasehold property. These are annual charges which can increase each year.

It's a good idea to find out which management company will look after the property and Google it to see what their service is like.

Our article comparing leasehold to freehold properties has a full run down of what’s involved with each.

How old is the property and does it have any problems?

Remember to ask how old the property is – the older it is, the more likely you’ll need to spend money on repairs.

Things to enquire about include: how old the boiler is; how old the wiring is; when the roof was last replaced; and if the property has any subsidence.

When you're visiting, keep an eye out for problems such as damp, rot, poor plumbing, DIY disasters and the state of the paintwork and walls. Also check the taps for water pressure and that the lights work.

It’s worth taking out a survey to check for any problems that aren’t obvious to the naked eye. Read: What type of home survey do you need?

Properties in Hastings old and new : Shutterstock

Is the property connected?

It’s a good idea to ask about the energy supply to a property.

Some properties are electricity-only and some aren’t on the gas grid so may use alternative fuels like oil, which can be pricey.

You should also check ask about the broadband connection. If you’re agent isn’t clued up use CheckMyStreet to check what sort of speeds the area can get.

How much are the bills?

Check what Council Tax band the property is in to get an idea of how much you will need to pay each month.

You should also look at the Energy Performance Certificate for the property which will show you the cost running the home and whether it could be lowered with energy efficiency improvements. You can compare energy deals for your new home with loveMONEY.

Other costs to consider is the water bill and home insurance.

 

What’s the parking like?

You should also enquire about the parking.

If there isn’t a drive or garage, check what the rules are for on-the-road parking.

Most councils will let you keep one vehicle on the street for free with a permit. However, a second vehicle normally requires you to pay a fee while visitor permits can be costly too.

What is the parking like? : Shutterstock

Is it in a chain?

You should find out what sort of property chain you will be in.

Unless you’re a first-time buyer you will probably need to sell your current home to move and the seller is likely to be buying another property and so on.

Buying a home depends on the success of all these other transactions and you will want to make sure the length of the chain isn’t going to be a hindrance.

What’s included with the property?

Look beyond the bricks and mortar at what comes with your new home and check what will be included in the sale.

Appliances like fridges and freezers as well as fixture and fittings like curtains and blinds don’t have to be left behind and could ramp up your costs if you have to buy yourself.

Why are the current owners moving?

If you get a chance to speak to the people moving out, find out how long they’ve lived in the property, why they’re moving and where to. This will give you an indication of any potential problems with the house and the area.

As a rule of thumb if they’ve been there a while there should be fewer problems, but check if there have been any neighbour disputes. Googling the address is also worthwhile and should alert you to anything dodgy which has taken place there.

Will you still love it in five years?

Buying a house on a whim is never advisable as it’s likely you won’t live there for life. So make sure you’re not buying a house which will end up being impossible to resell.

Visiting at different times of the day will also help give you a more well-rounded view of the place, along with taking as many photos as you can.

Is it right for your family?

A beautiful country cottage may sound like the perfect getaway, but once your teenagers grow up they won’t thank you for it.

Make sure you’re close enough to local schools and amenities and before you buy do a trial run of your commute to work.

Is the property worth the asking price?

Before making an offer do your research on prices.

The asking price is usually up for negotiation so check what other properties went for in the area. Websites like Zoopla and Rightmove have this sort of information.

Also check what offers have been made on the property so far and what the agent thinks the seller is likely to accept.

If the property isn’t going to be your forever home also consider if there is any chance the property will go up in value perhaps because of investment in the area.

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