It’s also often incredibly stressful, with multiple factors including legal requirements, finding financing, and the logistical elements of moving all coming to a head. Frequently, moving house is also close of the heels of other life markers such as starting a family, getting married or beginning a new career. Little wonder then that with so much going on, the basics can get overlooked.
We’re so desperate to secure that dream starter home in the right location that we rush into the purchasing decision, overlooking vital details that can cost us dearly later – both regarding money to put them right and headaches. Knowing about potential problems with a property early on in the process hands back the power to you – you can arrange for specialist surveys to give you a more detailed picture of any issues, scope out the cost of fixing problems, and use them to negotiate a lower sale price. This is one major life decision where you really have to let your head lead your heart – or you may regret not doing so later on. Knowledge is power, and never more so than when it comes to negotiations on buying your home. So here are the key things to check before you buy.
What State Is The Roof In?
You fell in love with the rose bushes in the garden, the light-filled living room or the view from the bedroom – but did you take enough time to stop and look up? Replacing the roof is major expense and represents highly disruptive building work, so if the roof is in a bad state of repair and may need replacing, you definitely want to know about it.Take your time to carefully look at the state of things – are there missing or loose-looking slates? Do they look in a good state or are they crumbling and covered in moss? If in doubt find a local roofing repair firm to take a look – they should be able to tell you if there is scope to replace a few slates, or if the whole thing is likely to be leaking and letting in water. Conversely, a property with a new roof could lower the cost of your home insurance cover, as well as lowering your utility bills if it’s been properly insulated.
Check Out The Plumbing
Water damage is one of the most insidious things to have wrong with a house, because the damage it can cause can be extremely serious, and also because it can be hard to spot visible signs of it before it’s a major issue. So carefully take note of any cracked plaster, bubbling wallpaper or damp patches in corners and question why they are there. It’s also a good idea to get under the sinks and inspect the pipework for leaks, cracks and general age. Mould isn’t only unsightly and bad-smelling, it can also equal health issues, especially for those with pre-existing health conditions or more vulnerable immune systems, like newborn babies. If in any doubt, you can commission acoustic leak detection services to pinpoint any flaws in the plumbing system. Make sure you scope out the damage and what the cost implications might be before committing to a purchase price.
Decide On Your Dealbreakers
Unless you have an unlimited amount of budget and good luck, then house buying, especially for the first time, is highly likely to involve some compromises. So its well worth thinking about factors that you can’t change – age of the house, location, size of the plot – versus things that you could change in the future. What can you live with and what is non-negotiable? Having this clarity from the outset will allow you to be more rational in the face of what can be quite an overwhelming set of factors. Try not to be distracted by details such as drab décor, bad carpets or horrible paint colors – these are all cosmetic and relatively inexpensive to fix. The layout is a little harder and may have to be more of a long-term project, but if there is potential to renovate, extend or reconfigure you can look to make future improvements – as long as the property is liveable in the time in-between. Consider how long it might take you to be able to afford any major works, and what other practical sacrifices that may mean for your lifestyle. Weigh up what compromises you are prepared to make – and if you can’t make it work,then walk away.
Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Things can move fast in the housing market, so come to the negotiating table prepared. It’s unlikely you will be able to make an offer on an apartment or house without having been approved for a mortgage first. So get those finances in place well before you fall in love with a new home, as they can take quite a few weeks to be arranged. Consider using a mortgage broker or online comparison tool to search out the best rate that you personally can qualify for – what you will be offered depends on a whole range of different factors. Even small differences in percentage can add up to thousands over the course of the arrangement, so its well worth putting the research in upfront before making any applications. You will be given an amount that you are pre-approved for, which sets the parameters for your house hunt – although it is negotiable, there’s equally no point looking at houses which are well out of the range you are likely to be offered. Equally, you will need to consider what you can afford as a deposit. The more equity you can put into the arrangement upfront, the more money you will save, as you’ll be considered less of a risk and be able to access much more favorable rates. Don’t be surprised if you are asked to pay mortgage insurance if you have a lower deposit – this will need to be taken into consideration when you calculate the affordability of the monthly repayments.