The most useful article ever written for FTBs (according to us!)
Buying a property, especially your first, is said to be the most stressful thing you’ll ever do. As such, it’s essential to equip yourself with all the relevant information, before embarking on the long and complex (but ultimately very rewarding) journey that is purchasing a house.
In this latest edition of Everyday Legal, we answer some of the most burning questions our property clients have. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s buy that house!
How much does this property cost? Is there a second bathroom? What type of mortgage should I choose? There are a number of obvious questions we ask ourselves when buying a house. But what about those that are less obvious? Here are some queries home buyers wish they had asked, according to a recent survey*:
- When was the boiler last serviced? It can easily cost more than £2,000 to install a new system - ask to see the boiler and its servicing history. Trust us.
- Are those cracks in the wall superficial or serious? A crack could be a sign of subsidence or other structural issues. Getting it checked by an expert could save you a lot of money and stress in the long-term. The same goes for dampness.
- Do all the electrics work? According to a recent survey*, more than a third of homeowners wish they’d taken more notice of electrical systems (and central heating) in their home before they bought it. Be sure to inspect all the sockets and switches, as well as wiring and circuit breakers. If in doubt, ask an electrician!
- How peaceful are the surroundings? A house could be perfectly quiet at midday but what about during peak-hour or school drop-off times? Visit the property at different times of the day. Your future self will thank you.
- How’s the broadband speed? There’s nothing like curling up in bed the first night in your new home to realise Netflix won’t load. Not all areas have great broadband speed. Find out the typical speed for the area.
- Does the roof leak? It seems so obvious, but more than half* of homeowners say they never checked the condition of the roof before purchasing a property. Need we say more? Check it!
Once you’ve found out the answers to these essential questions, get your quotes or estimates for repairs done early. That way, your offer will be an educated one. Bringing along an independent person to your property viewing could also help.
*Survey by First Direct Bank, surveying 2000 homebuyers across the UK in 2017.
The strangest questions buyers have asked about a house
Some of the bizarre queries by buyers-to-be have included*:
- 'Do any swingers live in the neighborhood?'
- 'Does the car in the driveway come with the house?'
- 'Is anyone buried in the backyard?'
- 'Are there any ghosts in the house?'
- 'Can I come back at midnight to see how the moon here affects my soul?'
- 'Why is the garage unfurnished?'
- 'Can we close all the blinds and doors and turn off the lights? I just need to see the space at its darkest.'
*Quote source: Realtor.com
The moral of the story? No question is too small, stupid or bizarre. Ask away. A house and mortgage is a big commitment.
Making an offer on an house
Asked all the relevant questions, weighted up the pros and cons, researched the area and the state of the property market, and still convinced you’ve found your #dreamhome? It’s now time to make an ‘offer’.
To put in an offer, tell the real estate agent, who will then pass it on to the seller. It’s best practice to put your offer in writing (e.g. a telephone call followed by an email), so there is no confusion later. If the seller is interested in your offer, the negotiations start, as conducted via the agent. Some people decide to appoint a buyer’s agent, to give them an upper-hand.
There is no ideal amount to offer. This will depend on the individual circumstances of the property. If there is little interest in the house, it could be a good idea to bid lower than you can. Vice versa, much interest could lead you to offer more, to give you an advantage over others.
When making your offer, you should let the estate agent know that it's subject to the property being taken off the market and out of sight to other buyers.
What do I do after making an offer on a house?
Congrats! Your offer has been accepted. So what next? You must..
- Get your financing in order. Your mortgage broker will help you.
- Shop around a negotiate a great deal for homeowners insurance.
- Get your new home inspected
- Move towards closing - The conveyancing process (which requires a property solicitor or conveyancer) is long and complex. Being ultra organised e.g. by always having relevant paperwork on hand will help speed up the process.
Getting your keys
The sale becomes legally binding after the ‘exchange of contracts’. On the day of exchange, the buyer will pay a deposit and contracts will be swapped. The date of completion will be confirmed.
Be patient with your solicitor or conveyancer, who is working hard with all parties in the chain to transfer ownership of the properties.
Upon completion, pick up your keys (note: you may want to consider getting your locks changed right away) and the house is yours!
What do I do after I’ve picked up my keys and I’m in my new home?
This is perhaps the most important step of all. Why, crack open the bubbly, of course!
Content correct at time of publication.