Think You’ve Found The Perfect New Home?

Before you buy ask yourself these key questions, says property journalist Sharon Dale.

Are you letting good looks get in the way of common sense?

A friend of mine bought a house on the basis that it had the country kitchen of her dreams. Seduced by the bright red AGA and Emma Bridgewater pottery on the shabby chic dresser, she made some sacrifices that she now regrets.

She lives close to a noisy road and has only one parking space and a small yard (or courtyard garden as estate agents now call them) instead of the large garden that was on her original wish-list. The fact is she could have recreated that kitchen in a property that ticked more boxes on her wish-list.

Are you glossing over the survey?

Love can make you blind or blasé to a property’s faults. Get a good quality survey and then sit down and add up roughly what it will cost in terms of time, money and disruption to put everything right. This could help you negotiate the price down.

I did just that but after stretching myself to buy my house, it’s taken me ten years, a shed load of money and a lot of hard graft to put everything right… and I still need to replace the old windows and doors. Buying new can relieve you of all this.

Is the size right?

Compromising on square footage can be worthwhile to get the location you really want but if you do this you must work out how you can make the reduced space work for you. You should also check whether you can convert the loft or add a side or rear extension.  A quick look at neighbouring properties to see if they have done something similar may help.

If you need a study/hobby room then you may be able to build a “posh shed” in the garden. Think ahead. Many first-time buyers are opting to jump on to what was traditionally the second step of the ladder. A larger first home that can accommodate children is a future-proof purchase and makes financial sense.

Thanks to stamp duty, estate agency and legal fees, moving is an expensive business. The government-backed Help to Buy equity loan scheme is a good way of getting more house for your money. It is available on many new-build homes. The government lends you up to 20% of the cost of your newly-built home (40% in London), so you'll only need a five per cent cash deposit and a 75% mortgage (55% in London) to make up the rest.

You won't be charged interest on the loan for the first five years of owning your property. Equity loans are available to first-time buyers as well as homeowners looking to move. The home you want to buy must be newly built with a price tag of up to £600,000.

After five years you will be required to pay an interest fee of 1.75% on the loan. This will rise each year by the increase, if any, in the Retail Prices Index plus 1%. The loan is repayable after 25 years or on the sale of the property/ For more details visit https://www.helptobuy.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/Help-to-Buy-Buyers-Guide-Feb-160216.pdf
 
How effective are the transport links?

Property brochures often tell you that a home is a mere 30-minute drive from the nearest big town/city i.e. your place of work. However, that will be at the quietest time of day. Test the journey when you expect to travel to and from work and you may find it takes 90 minutes. If there is a rail service then check the cost of tickets and the parking provision at the station if it is not within walking distance.


Are the schools good?

If having children is part of your plan then check out the local schools. This government site enables you to check he performance of primary and secondary schools. You should also check out catchment areas by contacting the school or local authority.  I cannot stress how important this is.

Discovering that the local school is poor or that you aren’t in the catchment area for the best school can lead to disappointment and an expensive and emotionally upsetting move.

Publish date: 11/09/2017