I am told that the moment you cross the threshold you will know there and then property you are viewing is the one for you. That sixth sense!
Allowing your heart to rule you head can however present a danger.
As your solicitors we will be able to check and advise on the legal issues but will find it far more difficult to advise on the suitability of the property as a home. Nor will we be able to advise on issues relating to the state and condition of the property or on matters relating to the local environment and amenities. It is therefore very important to do your homework and to make sure your solicitor is fully appraised of all relevant matters when if comes to providing instructions. Remember that in most cases your solicitor will not have visited the property.
So here are some tips:
To begin with always visit the property at least once during the day and once in the evening. The seller will normally wish to give you a ‘guided tour’. Resist this and ask if you can spend some time looking on your own. Move the furniture around if you can, as it would not be the first time a seller has moved a sofa to hide a damp patch! Be extra cautious if the house has been recently painted as it could be masking serious problems.
Visit the house on a rainy day to check for leaky roofs, walls or ceilings.
When viewing a property, determine how busy the road is, and whether there is any disturbance from flight paths.
Take a look at the crime rate for the postcode by visiting www.crimerates.co.uk/
If the standard of local schools is of importance you can find the latest Ofsted inspection report rating here: www.locrating.com/
Ask why the seller is selling especially if the seller has only owned the property for a short time. Ask them about the neighbours. Look out for knowing glances, avoiding eye contact or mumbling when they answer. And remember that if vendors have made a formal complaint of any kind about a neighbour, it is illegal for them not to tell you
Take a look around the surrounding area and check out the local amenities. Walk rather than drive, as you will see more. Look at whether the streets are clean and litter-free, whether there is graffiti sprayed around, and whether gangs are hanging about; also establish if there's noise or light pollution from nearby businesses or immediate area.
If public transport is important check the location of the local bus/train station and timings of buses/trains by visiting: www.transportdirect.info
If the seller is a smoker, the smell may end up lingering in the home. You may also have to pay a hefty sum to cover the cost of cleaning and repairing the smoke damage.
Similarly, you may want to think twice before signing up to a property if the people selling it are pet owners, as it may be extremely difficult to remove all traces of the smell of dogs, cats or other animals.
Ask the seller who is responsible for maintaining the boundaries and if there has been any disputes, talk to the neighbours and see what they say, look out for any unusual characteristics and make sure you let your solicitor know if there are any.
Check with the local planning department to see if there are planning applications in place that could if granted affect the value of the property and or your enjoyment of the property as a home.
Check your mobile phone reception and broadband speeds within the home. The following website shows some of slowest areas in the country: http://on-msn.com/VwkVWd
If you are buying a flat speak to the other tenants and if there is a Residents Association establish contact and inquire about the Managing Agents and Landlord to see if they can be relied upon and whether there have been any problems.
Ask the seller whether there has been any flooding, whether the seller has had to make any insurance claims, whether there has been any underpinning or problems with dry rot, rising damp and or beetle or other insect infestation.
Take a look at the heating/central heating, hot water heater, drainage and other major systems. These installations can be costly if they are left in disrepair for too long.
Turn the taps on in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry to check the water pressure, performance and drainage. Check for dirty water.
Are there major cracks in the walls or do the doors stick? This can be a sign of subsidence. This can be an extremely expensive problem to fix and is usually not covered by house insurance.
Measure spaces in kitchens and utility rooms to make sure your appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and microwaves fit. Failure to fit could add to the cost of buying in terms of replacements.
I always advise that despite how short of money you may be do not look to make a saving by dismissing the idea of a survey. However well you look and inspect you will not be able to see everything and by investing in a survey you will find out so much more about the property and those who commission a survey are able to negotiate a reduction in the purchase price of around £2000.
Compare home prices in your area to make sure you are paying no more than market value.
Negotiate on the price. If it is a buyers' market, you will be in a position to drive a hard bargain.
So as can be seen while you may think you've found your dream home, the key is to make sure you do your research to explore if there are any issues that might deter you from proceeding further. This means asking the right questions during your viewings, and looking for the all-important details.