It’s an exciting time, buying a new home. But don’t let your heart rule your head. Use our top 10 tips to make buying a house a pleasure
1) Understanding terminology
Sometimes, estate agents and lawyers can use odd terminology. They are not trying to catch you out, but it is worth knowing what it all means to give you some peace of mind.
- "Offers in the region of" - This is used when describing the asking price for a property. It can be difficult to gage how low or how high to make your offer. Always seek independent advice from your estate agents, as they know the market better than anyone.
- "Part Buy, Part Rent" - As part of the governments Help to Buy scheme, there are now opportunities to buy 50% of the value of the property. You will still require a deposit and mortgage approval to do this. The remaining 50% of the property is owned by the current owner or landlord. You are required to then pay an agree rental amount to the landlord, as you would normally in a rented property. Always seek advice from an independent financial advisor before considering this option.
- "Disbursements" - These are the costs that are required to be made through your solicitor. These fees are non-negotiable, and do not go towards paying for your solicitor. Examples of these are Stamp Duty, Land Registry or Search fees.
- "Freehold" - Freehold refers to when the property you are purchasing includes the ownership of the land it is built on. Most sales of residential property are on a freehold basis.
- "Leasehold" - This refers to when the property you are purchasing does not include ownership of the land. In these cases, you are often required to pay ground-rent to the landlord.
2) Selling - the first hurdle
The first hurdle to get through is actually finding a buyer for your home. Your estate agent could be working around the clock to get people through the door, and make sure your house gets viewed, but if you don't ensure your house looks the part, that elusive sale might never come.
It is said that there are two main rooms which "sell" the house. The kitchen and the bathroom. Of course, every buyer is different, and this might not always be their priority. But never the less, it is still important to make sure your main rooms are looking tip top.
You don't need to do any drastic re-decorating, but simple tricks such as de-cluttering, keeping things clean and putting out fresh flowers can make all the difference.
When potential buyers come to view your house, it is said first impressions can make or break it. Make sure your front garden/entrance area looks clean, tidy and inviting. A bit of weeding could make all the difference.
3) Finding your dream home - listen to your head!
It is often too easy to get over-excited at the prospect of moving house, and when you view something that you instantly fall in love with, it can be difficult to make a fair judgement on the state of the property.
It is always advised to make a second viewing on a property that you are considering. You may not have noticed in the first viewing, that there is some damp in the bedroom. Whilst not always a deal-breaker for buying a house, it is important to consider all the pro's and con's for the property that you want to buy.
It might be worth taking a friend along who could offer impartial judgement. Once you have made an offer on the property, it is always recommended to get an independent survey performed. Once this has been done, you will have a better understanding of the potential hidden problems with the property such as:
- Is the building structurally sound?
- Is there damp or mould?
- Do the window frames have cracking paint? Is the double-glazing intact?
- How old is the roof?
- Are there electrical points and what condition are they in?
- Is the plumbing adequate and without problems?
4) Explore your new neighbourhood
It’s very easy to find out about your new home, without going to see it every day. Using online tools such Rightmove, What’s On Guides, Chamber of Commerce Events and of course the odd day out shopping or going for a long work, can work wonders on helping you get to know your new neighbourhood before you move.
You could even ask your solicitor if they know much about the area. The chances are he or she will have helped with legal work for other clients moving to that area, and they might be able to tell you the best place to get a take-away on your moving day!
5) Plan the day on paper - what will you do?
It's always worth planning out a step-by-step guide of the moving day. Plan what you will do, and what others will do. Will you have friends or family to help? Will you hire a removal van? Are there valuables that you would want to transport yourself?
As conveyancers, we have a fantastic group of reliable removal companies which we can signpost you to. It's always good to get a recommended firm. You can also check that the company you choose is approved by the British Association of Removers.
If you plan to do the work yourself, make sure you know the best route to your new pad, and plan out which of your belongings will be "moving house" first. Check with your estate agents what time it is likely you will be able to pick up the keys. Some-times there can be a bit of waiting around once you have handed your keys in, so why not find a nice place for brunch or a coffee to pass the time.
6) Informing your suppliers
It is important to make sure all of your suppliers and contractors know that you are on the move. We recommend contacting your gas, water and electric suppliers as soon as you know that you are moving, to check what the best procedure is for them. They will most likely advise that you call them on moving day with your meter readings and new address.
Make a list of people or companies you will need to contact. It may be worth asking your suppliers to confirm by email or in writing that they have acknowledged your departure from the property.
Don't forget you might want to let friends and relatives know as well.
7) Get clued up on the legal procedures
A lot of the time, moving house can be a bit scary. Issues can arise when there is miscommunication between you, your buyer/seller, solicitor and your buyer/seller's solicitor. It is always wise to get clued up about what legal documents and procedures take place when a house is being bought or sold.
The clearer you are about what goes on the better. Visit out News pages to find your legal guide to moving house.
Whatever you do, do not disappear on holiday, or turn your phone off for week. Your solicitors are working around the clock to get the sale completed, and sometimes they might need to contact you to confirm agreements with the buyers of your property.
Try to get round to answering voicemails, emails or letters as soon as you can. The faster you respond, the faster you solicitor or estate agents can get things moving forward. Make sure you raise any queries that are a bit confusing, as issues can easily arise when important information is missed or not communicated.
9) Use your calendar EVERY DAY
Your calendar is your friend. Once you know that you are definitely moving house, the earlier you can start planning, the better. Set yourself realistic dates for when things will be done. Use your calendar every day. The best way to keep up to date is either keep a calendar on your fridge, or set reminders on your phone or computer. The sky is the limit when it comes to technology, and it is there to be utilised!
Make sure you time-scales are realistic. There is no point packing all your clothes par a couple of t-shirts with still at least 4 weeks to go to moving date. You will only end up un-packing again!
10) The joys of Moving Day
So, you’ve picked up your keys, your removal van is on the new drive-way and you have made your first cup of tea.
When you move in, it is often easy to make snap decisions such as "the picture should go there". Our top tip is to take your time over these decisions. The joy and excitement of moving in can sometimes cloud your judgement, and you may come to regret decisions made.
Plan in your head or on paper where everything will go. Prop pictures against walls before putting any hooks or nails into the walls, and take things at a steady pace.
You will enjoy your new home if you have done it your way, and that means making the right decisions for you.