Friday, 14 October 2011

Really start looking at property for sale

Once you've made all the basic decisions, done the necessary homework and found a trustworthy estate agent, how do you approach the actual "house hunting" process? The keywords are questions and concentration.

Questions, questions

Ask as many questions as you need to. Ask about specific areas in the home that could become troublesome like additions or areas that have been repainted or repaired. Ask about the neighbourhood and possible developments. What is the seller's reason for selling and what are the neighbours like? The more you ask the less likely you are to miss anything that could influence your decision. If you are not completely satisfied with the answer you are given, ask again until you feel that the issue has been adequately addressed.

What to look for

You couldn't possibly look at each and every home that you see with absolute attention to detail. The first time viewing of the house is a preliminary sifting process. The purpose of a first visit is elimination. If there are no disqualifying features return to have a more thorough look and hire a home inspector to help you realistically assess the property.

"There is no guarantee that a new house will be soundly constructed."

The follow-up visit is the time to turn to your magnifying glass. During this more thorough inspection pay special attention to:
  • The overall condition of the roof and the interior of the structure.
  • Make sure the structure is sound. Cracks indicate that the foundation is lacking.
  • Look for damp spots. They could indicate a leak or rising damp.
  • Open the taps and flush toilets to make sure that pluming is not faulty.
  • Quality and workmanship.
  • The condition of appliances and which fixtures and fittings are included in the purchase.
  • What is the overall state of the property.
  • Ask for approved plans and make sure that there are no illegal, unapproved structures.
  • The seller has no choice but to tell you of defects that are not immediately visible, if you ask!

Take the age of the house into account. Newer homes tend to mean less maintenance and they are more appropriate as far as modern family living is concerned. An older home on the other hand may have more spacious rooms and a unique feel and character.

If you are ambivalent about whether to buy an old house or a new one remember that "new" does not necessarily mean value for money. There is no guarantee that a new house will be soundly constructed. A haphazard construction built with shoddy material is "new" if it's never been lived in but clearly not value for money. Likewise the fact that a house is expensive does not as such mean that you will in fact get what you pay for.

Call in the professionals

If you have little experience in the property market, think twice before buying that quaint little "renovator's dream". It may need major repairs that you were not aware of and turn from a dream down a country lane to "A Nightmare on Elm Street". A home inspector will identify defects that could cost you thousands to repair after the sale. Amongst others he will check a home's plumbing, heating and cooling, electrical systems and look for structural problems like a damp or leaky basement.

Some inspectors have a tendency to over play the importance of their role and the items that they find. Always remember that you are buying the house. Neither your agent nor the inspector, friends or relatives will be living in it or paying for it. Get objective opinions that you trust before making a decision and ask a handyman for an idea of how much repairs will cost and what they entail. A seller may be willing to renegotiate the price taking into account the repairs. In the light of all this make an educated decision.