Buying property can be stressful, confusing and it can take a lot longer than you might first think.
It’s a massive investment, so you need to make sure you have really got your head around the process – particularly before signing contracts or progressing with a sale.
The old adage says knowledge is power – and that is particularly true when it comes to property. You don’t want to be blindsided with big problems after you have already handed over you life savings.
So, it is really important that you ask the right questions before agreeing to anything. Property expert Heather Barrigan, from MyJobQuote, has shared the top five questions that you should never forget to ask when you’re buying a property:
How much deposit do I need?
‘To purchase a house with a mortgage, you will be required to pay a deposit,’ says Heather. ‘This will typically be a percentage of the house price, starting from 5% with the Help to Buy Scheme, which is only available for first-time buyers who wish to purchase a new build.
‘Normal mortgages typically require a 10-25% deposit, although you can always pay more as this will drive the monthly repayments.’
Being prepared on the basics, like your deposit, will ensure you give yourself a realistic amount of time to save up – particularly if you will also need to save extra for DIY and improvements on the property.
What is the neighbourhood like?
Before buying a property, Heather says you should always ask about the neighbourhood.
‘You can ask the estate agent this or take a look for yourself to assess whether the area is good or bad,’ she says.
Obviously, this will depend on what it is that you’re looking for. Do you want to be close to transport links, green spaces, quiet roads? Go check it out for yourself.
‘Other neighbourhood factors include the proximity to school districts, jobs, and local shops, as many homeowners opt for convenience when deciding on a purchase,’ Heather adds.
Are there any issues with the house?
‘This is one of the most important questions you need to ask to ensure you avoid facing problems later down the line,’ says Heather. ‘Issues could include damp or leaks, which may be expensive to fix.’
She adds that although the person selling the house to you does have an obligation to inform you of certain issues, there can be things that slip under the radar until it’s too late.
‘It would be best to pay for a professional home inspection, as this will uncover any undeclared issues and lower the property’s cost,’ adds Heather.
So, if your own inspection reveals a serious problem with damp or mould, maybe a hidden problem with the floorboards – you can use this to get a better price on the property.
How old is the roof?
If you are buying an older home, Heather says you should definitely inquire about the roof’s age and lifespan.
‘This will ensure you understand the costs if you have to repair or replace the roof,’ she says. ‘For repairs, you should expect to pay anywhere from £250 to £450.’
‘If the roof is beyond repair, it will need to be replaced. Costs range from £1,500 to £4,500 for a flat roof replacement, while a pitched roof is typically priced at £3,500 to £7,000.’
These are not insignificant expenses – so make sure you ask the question.
What’s included in the sale?
Heather says this is particularly important if you’re buying a new build.
‘If you have seen a show home or property that has been staged, it may be confusing as to what will be included when you actually buy the house,’ she says. ‘For instance, will the appliances or fitted wardrobes remain in the property and be inclusive in the price?’
Knowing how many appliances and fittings you will have to buy for yourself could make a big difference to your budget.
Best quick-fixes to help you sell your house quicker
If you’re focusing on the other end of the property market – the selling – Heather also has some top tips for super simple changes you can make to entice buyers.
If you are hoping for a quick turnaround when selling your property, you should consider making the following changes or fixes:
Declutter and repurpose
‘If you have a spare room in your home that is only used for storage, you should consider decluttering the space and repurposing it into a spare bedroom or even a home office,’ says Heather.
‘This will appeal to buyers who are currently working from home and increase the property value by 8 to 10%.’
All you’ll need is a fresh lick of paint, an office desk and some shelving.
Spruce up the garden
Heather says that one of the best ways to boost your home’s kerb appeal is to spruce up your front and back garden.
‘You can hire a professional gardener to do this or take on the task yourself,’ she adds.
‘This could involve something as simple as mowing the lawn and planting some flower beds, or you could add some garden furniture and create an indoor-outdoor living aesthetic.’
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