Buying your first house is probably the biggest purchase you'll ever make, so it's important to get it right. It can be tempting to make your decision based on superficial details (like the decor or fittings) but remember all these can be changed. Here at Lovell we've put together a practical list of questions to consider to make sure you know all the important details before making your final decision.
It's also a good idea to visit the property several times and at different times of the day, to get a feel for the area.
Why is the owner selling?
If you’re buying an older home, you should try to find out why it’s being sold. The estate agent isn’t obliged to help you, but they might – or you could contact the sellers directly to find out.
What’s included in the sale?
Will any fixtures and fittings be left? What about white goods? It’s important to know what’s going to be included, so you can plan for any extra expenses in advance, and figure out what you need to take with you from your current home.
How long has the property been on the market?
This is an especially useful question for older houses. If it’s been on the market for a long time, is there a reason? Are there any problems with the house?
How long have the owners lived in the house?
Similarly, if the owners are selling up after a short period of time, there may be a problem with the house which you need to know about.
How many times has the property changed hands?
Again, if the property has been bought and sold multiple times in a short space of time, you may want to find out why.
What offers have been made so far?
Estate agents can’t legally confirm how much has been offered, but they will often give you a ballpark figure.
What are the local amenities like?
Are there plenty of shops, bars, transport links and schools nearby? Think about what you’d like in your community before you commit to an area – and even better than asking the seller or estate agent what the area is like is to check it out for yourself.
Which way does the property face?
If you like to wake up with the sun on your face, or plan to spend a lot of time in the garden, you should find out the answer to this question.
What are the neighbours like?
Your dream house could be ruined by neighbours who are prone to throwing loud parties. If there have been any complaints made about your neighbours, the seller is legally obliged to disclose them. Otherwise, why not knock on your prospective neighbours’ door to ask them about the local area? You should be able to get a feel for whether you’d be happy living next door to them.
Is the property freehold or leasehold?
If a property is freehold, it means you own it outright, including the land it’s built on. Most houses are freehold. If you have a leasehold property, you own for only the length of the lease agreement. You’ll have to answer to the freeholder (also known as the landlord) when looking to make renovations, and you’ll also have to pay them a fee. Most flats in England and Wales are sold as leasehold properties. The practice is largely unheard of in Scotland.