Buying a home is one of the most significant financial decisions you will make in your lifetime, and with you committing to repayments of thousands, if not hundreds, of thousands of pounds for a large portion of your life, you want to make sure it’s the right decision.
Good Move found that over half of homebuyers in the UK in 2022 had buyers regret, while GoCompare found 19,000 people felt the same way in 2021, too.
There are many reasons why a person might jump into buying a house only to regret it later. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and the decisions leading up to them committing to buying a home will differ significantly.
But with so many people finding themselves in this unenviable position, those looking to buy their first home can heed their mistakes and avoid making financially bad decisions for their home purchase.
If you’ve gotten to the stage of viewing houses, you likely don’t need any tips on how to get ready for your mortgage application, but what would come in handy is knowing what to look for when viewing a property to ascertain how suitable it is for you and that it meets all of your needs.
Don’t Rush The Viewing
If you spend longer than 20-30 minutes picking what takeaway you’re going to have for dinner, then you need to spend longer than that picking which house you are going to buy. Take your time to really inspect the home and get a feel for it. Don’t feel like you’re being a nuisance by taking your time with the viewing. You typically get 30 minutes per viewing with estate agents, so use this time wisely.
You probably won’t get to see everything you need to decide there and then; however, you can see enough and always ask for a second viewing if it looks more in-depth. But using the full 30 minutes will give you plenty of time to scope out a few things, including the points mentioned in this post.
Look For Damp
Something you need to keep an eye out for is signs of water damage to the property. Common signs that there is a water issue include black mould growing in places it shouldn’t be, ie anywhere at all, watermarks on walls by external guttering or in top corners of rooms, peeling wallpaper and indicators of freshly painted parts of a room, a musty, damp smell or oddly placed furniture that doesn’t flow with the rest of the room. These are telltale signs that something is amiss and will need to be checked if you wish to purchase.
Check the Electrics
Always ask the current homeowner for an EICR. This is a legal requirement and needs to be kept up to date. While visually checking all plug sockets and the fuse box can give you an idea of the state of the electrics; old or neglected houses could have outdated and dangerous wiring, and you might need an electrician who is proficient in repairing aluminum wiring or swapping the old red and black wires for brown and blue and updating essential components. Remember, an electrical check isn’t included in your home survey. When you have one done, you will need to get an electrician to check this separately if you have any concerns.
Look for scorch marks on walls where wiring is, exposed wires or cables and anything that doesn’t work like it should if an electrical supply is running through the house.
Run The Taps
Running the taps will indicate water pressure, and looking at the boiler will give you an idea of how old it is. You can ask for service records or the installation date of the boiler at your viewing so you know what condition it is, and you can also look for or ask if there is an old-style hot water tank too; if it’s still in use, chances are this might need to be replaced soon. Listen for any sounds of running water from the cistern or around the bathrooms and kitchen to identify any leaks or plumbing issues, too; the last thing you want is a plumbing disaster right after moving in.
Condition of the Roof
You won’t be able to see the roof’s condition from ground level, so ask how old the roof is, if it has had any repairs and look in the attic or at the ceilings to see if any signs of water damage can indicate roof issues. This is especially important if the building has flat or nearly flat roofing. Modern techniques and materials now offer better protection and sealing than gravel or asphalt for flat roofing. Roofs are designed to last around 20 years on average. Still, a roof over 15 years old can be cause for concern, and replacing or repairing a roof is an expensive business, so don’t forget to enquire about its condition at your viewing.
Most homes in the UK now have double or triple glazing, but not all of them, and not all homes with this feature have the theme in good condition. Check for air leaks in the window frames, and look at the caulk sealing the windows to the home for any gaps.
If there are cracks, this could indicate an issue with how the windows have been fitted or that they need to be repaired or replaced. Other signs include being able to push your finger through wooden frames if they’re installed or condensation between panes of glass in double glazing, which means they are faulty and need replacing. Look for curtains moving in a breeze via windows to show how well they are sealed.
Buying your first home is a complex endeavour; you want to make the right choice, but there is likely so much going on you’re not 100% sure what that right choice is or if you’re making the right choice for the right reasons. Listen to your head, your heart, and your gut instincts. If they’re telling you something is amiss, don’t be afraid to step back and keep on looking.