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What To Know When Buying A House.

Updated on March 4, 2013

Finding a home.

House hunting can be difficult, time consuming, stressful and frustrating. It is no mean feat and if there is more then one of you making the decision, it can make the whole process harder still. However there will be the odd gem that really captures your attention and can make the entire experience suddenly worth while. It is always worth doing your research before purchasing a property though, as your dream house could soon become a living nightmare.

This article is full of advice covering not only the more obvious potential problems but also the little known issues that often get over looked but are equally important, and should be considered before you sign any paperwork or prepare for a move. I hope you find it useful and happy house hunting.

Asking the right questions.

Knowing exactly what you want will make hunting for your new home so much easier as you can dismiss various properties immediately and save a lot of time and unnecessary deliberation. Location is the most obvious first question.

  • Where do you want to live and why?
  • Write a deal breaker list anything that you absolutely can not live with, rule out immediately.
  • Living near a busy road would that be intolerable to you? Maybe a bit of heavy traffic would not bother you all that much.
  • What society's, buildings or facilities do you want to be within close proximity to?
  • Do you need to be close to a school collage or even university and how do they fair academically? Does it meet your consumer needs?
  • Is living near shops or a supermarket important to you.
  • How far would you be willing to travel to get to these places?
  • Can you reach a place of worship. A hospital. A police station. Sports centre.
  • How would it affect your commute to work, or your family.
  • How do the road layouts affect you?
  • Is there an airport, train station, local attraction or event that would affect you?



The exterior garden and surrounding grounds are also an important factor, are there any trees? If there are, would you be allowed to chop them down if you wanted too? It's worth finding out as some trees are protected and you may not get permission to do so at a later time. Have the neighbours got shrubbery that you would be unhappy with if it spilt into your garden. Think about gates and driveways. Do you need a garage? How safe would your car be if it was parked outside?

Do you like the thought of having lots of neighbours and would you love to live in amoungst a row of terraced houses, or is a detatched house away from too many other people more your thing. Are any hedges a potential problem. Can people access your property with ease? Are there footpaths running through the property and would you feel comefortable with people using a right of way? Can other people park near your house and would that bother you? Are any clubs or pubs near by. Do you want to be near a park.

  • A house veiwed in a clear blue sky on a warm summer day is very different then a house on a gloomy day in winter.
  • The temperature is important you want to be comfortable all year round.
  • Think seasonally too what will it be like in autmn with fallen leaves and in winter with frost. In spring before flowers are in bloom and the trees are bare and In summer when the weather is at it's hottest.

Space and Investment.

As well as having a deal breaker list you will need to write an essential list. How many bedrooms do you need and what sizes are the minimum you require. For instance if you need one room for an office or study a box room would probably be adequate, where as if you have furniture your not willing to downsize ensure the master bedroom has adequate space to hold it.

What are the views like? Could you live near a factory and be happy to look over at it from any of your windows. Do you need a downstairs and upstairs toilet. How much redecorating and work would you be willing to do to a property. Would you be willing to install a new kitchen, re-plaster walls or re-tile a roof. Or are you looking at more of a new carpet and a lick of paint? Is it functional for your needs? Are you not willing to settle for anything less then a house or if you were looking for a bungalow because you cant manage stairs would you consider a flat if it was on a lower floor?

Condition of the property.

When you buy a property nowadays you will get a h.i.p which stands for home information pack this will give you a fair amount of useful information, it's definitely worth using to your advantage. You may want to consider where certain points of the house face north, east, south or west and how that affects what parts of the house get sunlight and when.

The age of the house is a factor to think about also, don't assume that because it's new you are immune from problems like cracks, as a new house settles it moves and can cause damage. Rushed finishes lead to problems with a property they also tend to have smaller rooms and windows, however they can be cheaper then some older properties.

Similarly don't assume that older properties can not be made more energy efficient or modernized. Has planning permission been granted previously for a conservatory extension or conversion? Chances are it'll be passed again if pursued. Is it a listed building? This can restrict you greatly if you own the property.

Ask why they are selling what does there answer suggest? What is the brick or stonework condition like? Can you spot any flaking? What are the windows like? What about the pointing? Are there any signs of crumbling or cracking?

Other things to look out for are damp patches on ceilings and walls, check guttering and pipes. Are there areas that appear to have tide marks or different coloured patches? Is it prone to flood in the area? This maybe difficult to detect if it has been recently but there maybe areas of the house that can giveaway signs of mould or leaks.

  • Wood work is a must for checking, if its hard to inspect because flooring is fixed in such a way that you can't check whats underneath it, go and find a place where you can inspect it, if that's not possible they maybe trying to hide it.
  • Springy floorboards are also a sign that there maybe a problem with timber.
  • Although a H.I.P (Home Information Pack) should be a thorough survay of a property they may not be 100 per cent and besides its always good to check
  • How to identify dry rot will have a round appearance and fungus smell. Cracking that looks like squares and milky coloured, stringy wood coming away. Rusty looking spores or raised bubbles.
  • Wet rot has dark bluey black grey and brown strands. Window frames sills basements bottom of outside doors are all likely places for detecting dry rot.

Try before you buy.

Feel free to open and close all doors and windows that way you can check for swelling or sticking. Has any of the wood been treated if so do the current owners of the house got a guarantee for any of the treated wood. Unfortunately subsidence does occur in some houses the foundation of the property sinks on one side or raises on one side this leads to cracking sometimes quite severely.

Is there a large tree near the building if so subsidy is almost a certainty the presents of a tree can also affect pipework and moisture in the surrounding land. Erosion is also an increasing problem for a growing number of homes could this be a potential problem for any property that your looking at. Don't let decor put you off of a great property if its not going to take much to bring it to your taste or just to make it more modern look beyond wall paper carpets and tiles especially if there in good condition. Staircases window sills plasterwork etc may take more work and money.

Make sure you know what is being left and what they intend to take bathroom fittings curtain rails fitted bookcases walk in wardrobes plants in the garden carpets light fittings shelves even ownership of sheds have caused disputes over ownership. How much of the surrounding area belongs to the property? How is the property heated? How much are the fuel bills for a year? Electric gas water council tax etc.

does the property have double glazing, central heating, cavity wall insulating, solar panels, compost bin, water tank, underfloor heating, an argar, make sure you know exactly what you want from your property and how much you would be willing to do yourself. Ensure you turn a few lights on and off and check the electrics work what are the state of sockets like how old do they look be weary of stray wires hanging out anywhere.

Turn a couple of taps on and off how well does the water run? Is there any banging chugging or scretching with the running of the water if so there is probably problems with the plumbing. Check both hot and cold taps making sure hot is hot and cold runs cold and to make sure that they both run clean if they dont there is a chance of rust in the pipes and storage tank. Is it a hard or soft water area?

Be observant.

How thick are the walls give them a tap newer houses will tend to have thiner walls then older houses however thats not to say all walls in the home are original or structural. Have any walls been removed to make way for open plan?

The thinner the wall the greater the probability of sound disruption especially if there are a lot of people that live with you. Are there anyobstructions that would block natural light or entrances or indeed exits. Have they retained all there dustbins and recycling boxes and are they marked so that you can see that they clearly belong to the property.

Does it have adequet storage for your needs. what is street lighting like, its worth driving by the property at night just to check it out and seeing that they work. Arrange a viewing when neighbours are in so that you can see how noisey they are. See if you can gage what community relationships are like.

The Market and Agents.

Is it a buyers or sellers market? The buyers market is when there are less prospective buyers then there are properties meaning sellers have to work harder to attract what potential buyers there maybe. A sellers market is the opposite there are more people wishing to buy a property then properties available. When can you move in is there a forward chain. Whats the drainage like?

Estate agents ensure that the estate agent is credible and is part of a recognized society or association. Have a good trawl through the Internet so that you have the widest options and choice of property available some sellers now decide to sell there own homes and by cutting out the middle man or woman you can make savings of thousands of pounds. Having a good relationship with an agent will help you exponentially by being friendly your agent will be more likely to help you.

House pricing does and probably will change so its good to get your agent onside so that they can make you aware of increases or decreases in price quickly. Although its useful to Look out for for sale signs asked to be informed of properties that have become available as soon as possible before the house is in the public domain.

Where to look.

The Internet is an invaluable tool for house hunting and house selling whereas five or ten years ago you'd have to rely on signing up for a mailing list you can now keep up to date by checking websites as often or as little as you like.

Although most people and companies are respected and trust worthy it is worth calling on the services of a solicitor to help with paperwork negotiations and all legal aspects of home buying and selling you can also voice any concerns questions or requests for them to sort out. Ensure you get the most out of them and don't be afraid to bring issues or requirements to them as long as you again have a good relationship with them they wont mind what they have to do whilst working for you. Social networking is also a great tool for finding or selling a house. Twitter, facebook, bebo, my space etc.

Adverts for properties can be found and placed in newspapers shop windows estate agents and again via the world wide web. The Auctioning of property has become hugely popular you can even buy and sell property on eBay. Other websites that list houses wanted or selling is preloved and gumtree. If you have an unusual home or you cant compare it easily to other properties an auction may well be a good idea for you you will be subject to auctioneer commissions. You will also need to agree on a reserve price.


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    • wrenfrost56 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from U.K.

      Thank-you for your kind and encouraging words Crystal Tatum. :)

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      What a great checklist for househunters. I've never bought a house. It seems like an overwhelming process, but you've helped make it easier. Voted up.


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