21 July, 2021
Buying a home is often the largest purchase you will make in your lifetime, so it is important to get the right information at the right time to ensure you can make informed decisions.
You can avoid stress and speed up the process by knowing which questions to ask from the outset and knowing where to go for help.
Who can help me?
During the home buying process, the key people you can seek advice or assistance from are:
- Estate agent – will help guide you through the buying process and work with other parties to help the sale progress
- Mortgage broker or adviser – to advise which mortgage is best for you
- Solicitor/conveyancer –to carry out the legal work needed to buy a property
- Surveyor – they are usually appointed by your mortgage provider to assess the physical condition of the property and obtain an independent valuation
- Specialist professional or tradesperson – to advise on any maintenance or building works identified on a survey or cost up renovation works
What can I afford?
Before you start looking, you should have an idea of your budget and an understanding of how much you can borrow from a mortgage lender. You can typically borrow a multiple of your household income and this amount will be influenced by your credit score. Adding this sum to your deposit will give you an indication of how much you can afford to spend.
The Government also has a range of schemes to help people buy a home.
How to choose a property
Once you know the price bracket you are searching within, there are more factors to consider:
- Local amenities – what areas do you want to prioritise and what amenities are there in the neighbourhood (shops, doctors’ surgery, schools etc.) Questions about local school catchments are usually very high up the list for families or couples wanting to future proof a purchase.
- Location of property - properties on busy roads, backing on to railway lines, or located some distance from public transport routes are often cheaper than those better positioned. Ensure you are happy with any compromises though before you make an offer.
- Transport links – you should check out the commute time to and from work and/or school, using public transport or car.
- Freehold or leasehold? – If you are interested in a leasehold property (and most flats are leasehold) you should ask your estate agent how many years are left on the lease. Below 80 years could impact your ability to get a mortgage. Find out everything you should consider with buying a freehold vs a leasehold.
- New build or second-hand? – new builds can be appealing as they will have modern décor and be energy efficient, and you may be able to make some decisions about fixtures and fittings (e.g. kitchen cabinets, tiling, lighting etc.). However, new builds are generally more expensive than a similar sized second-hand home and there is usually less scope to add value by renovating or extending.
- Condition – some properties are immaculate, others may need some updating and others would benefit from a complete renovation. If you are interested in snapping up a ‘project’ you should ask a local contractor to give an estimate and ask yourself about how much time and energy you would have to dedicate to it.
- Scope for extending – Can you adapt a property to suit your needs better – ie by extending or converting the loft or garage to make more space? If this is your long-term plan, again, ask a contractor for a ball park figure before taking the plunge.
- Energy performance – is the property as energy efficient as you would want it to be as this will affect your monthly heating bills? If not, what could be done to improve it? This information can be found on the property’s Energy Performance Certificate or EPC.
- Number of bedrooms – consider how many bedrooms you need not just for now but should your household expand. With the cost of moving, it makes sense to think as long term as you can manage.
- Storage space – think about your lifestyle and storage needs. If you have bikes, or prams, where are they going to live?
- Car parking – if available, is parking on-street, on a drive, or in a garage; and are there any parking permit costs?
- Garden – do you want an outside space? How much maintenance are you able and willing to do? Would the space be yours or would it be shared with other properties?
Once you have settled on a property, there are questions worth asking to get a feel for any issues that might come up with the transaction. For example:
- How many people are in the chain? Will the sellers need to tie in their own purchase?
- When are the sellers hoping to move out?
- Have all the necessary consents been obtained for any work already carried out on the property?
If you do choose to buy a property (or sell) through Michael Hardy, we will be on hand to answer any questions you may have at any stage of the process. Call us today on Wokingham 0118 977 6776 or Crowthorne 01344 779 999.