When looking at properties, especially one that is to be your home and even more so when it is your first property, it is important not to get carried away by the “fuzzy” feeling you may get from the property. Before you dive in with an offer for what appears to be your dream property, follow these suggestions, and hopefully you’ll avoid a future nightmare:

  1. Don’t just view the property once. If practicable, visit the property at least a couple of times before making an offer and go at different times of the day. The neighbourhood is likely to be very different at 1pm on a Thursday compared to 10am on a Sunday.

  2. Arrive at the property a few minutes early and give the exterior of the property a thorough inspection. Broken brickwork or guttering that is leaking may suggest damp problems inside. Obvious signs of exterior neglect are often an indicator as to the general condition of a property.

  3. Make a note of any questions you want to ask in advance; it’s very easy to forget something in the excitement of a viewing. Jot down the seller’s answers to your questions; there may be points you need to verify through your conveyancer.

  4. Find out if any work has been carried out on the property. Some works will have required planning permission and/or building regulation approval. Make a note of what the seller tells you and pass this information onto your conveyancer, who will then confirm this with the seller’s conveyancer and cross-reference it with the information in your local search.

  5. Ask what is to be included in the sale and make a note of what the seller tells you. When your conveyancer sends you a copy of the Fittings & Contents Form, you will then be able to ensure that the seller is has included everything they said they would. If any appliances are included, ask to see them working.

  6. Ask to see the central heating boiler working and allow it to run for long enough to warm up all the radiators, even in the middle of summer. If, after exchange of contracts you find out that the boiler is faulty, you are unlikely to have any recourse against the seller. Ask to turn on the hot water tap and see how long it takes to run warm. If there are showers, whether they run off the hot water or are electric, ask to see them working. Your surveyor is unlikely to check such things.

  7. Take a torch and ask to look in cupboards, under the stairs, inside fitted wardrobes, in the loft, in the cellar etc.; these are the kind of areas that can hide issues such as damp. Be wary of any property where the seller is reluctant to allow you to look in every nook and cranny.

  8. Over recent years, flooding has become a major issue in the UK as a result of heavy rainfall and extensive building projects. Ask the seller if the property (including the garden, driveway etc.) has ever been flooded as this could affect both a mortgage offer and buildings insurance.

  9. Check out the area before you make an offer by driving around. Walking around the local street is an even better way of checking out the shops, facilities and nature of the neighbourhood. Just as with viewing the property itself, repeat this process at different times on different days.

  10. And most importantly, take your time when viewing properties. It can feel like you’re imposing on the seller by viewing the property for more than 10 to 15 minutes but ultimately you are looking to make one of the biggest purchases of your life of somewhere you will call home for several years.

Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive and doesn’t guarantee against the risk of issues with the property in the future but they will help reduce the risk.

Once you’ve found a property you are ready to buy, get in touch with Farleys’ residential property team who can handle the process for you from initial instructions through to completion. Call 0845 287 0939 or email us today.