Buying a property is one of the most important financial decisions you will make in your life.  It is a significant investment of money.  However, if this is to be your home, then you will also be investing in hopes and dreams for the structure you purchase.  Therefore, take your time and go through the viewing process carefully.

There will be boundaries that you want to set on your search.  First, you may know that you need a set number of bedrooms or a particular garden space; you may want to be close to an outstanding school or near a transport hub such as a train station or bus stop. Secondly, you will need to know how much you can spend.  Be confident about your budget.  This will stop you from viewing houses that you could never afford, and it will prevent you from settling for something less than you deserve.  By setting your parameters before you begin looking at houses, you will save yourself a lot of time.

The dealbreakers

There are checks you should make on a property that will stop you from buying the house.  It is not just that these will cost you money to rectify but that the mortgage company may refuse to lend when these problems exist.  You will be expected to hire a surveyor, and if they report serious issues, it could be the end of your funding.

So, check the outside walls.  If there is a significant crack running up the side, then it might suggest the house is not structurally sound.  It is worth asking questions about this.  If the cracks are in an extension joint or an external wall of an end of terrace, then it might be perfectly fine.  Equally, if it is in the chimney breast, then it could be easily fixed.  However, it should make you think twice before continuing the viewing.

You should also look carefully at the roof.  Most rooves last about 20 years. Check for loose tiles and the quality of the materials around the edge. 

Other issues that could stop any deal include watermarked walls, visible leaks, mould and flaky plaster.  You are best to walk around the property with your nose and not your eyes.  It is hard to hide a bad smell.

Serious issues to consider

Then, other items might make you doubt the property.  If you love everything else and can get over these points, then it might be a reasonable compromise.  For instance, you might have wanted a south-facing garden, but this one faces north.  You need to question whether you will be happy in the summer when you don’t have a spot to sit in.  Another detail would be the amount of storage.  Can you live without the necessary cupboard space? Do you have the imagination to use furniture cleverly to prevent clutter?

Other things could end up costing you money, though not enough to suggest you are buying a money pit.  Check the boiler works, the pressure of the water through the taps and the state of repair of power points.

A final serious issue to consider is the neighbourhood.  You are not living on an island devoid of life.  You are going to be part of a community.  What is the attitude of the people in the area? You should check for litter, for the state of gardens, the consideration that is shown when parking, whether people are chatting – and those other small details that make a neighbourhood pleasant to live in.

The smaller details

Once you have checked off all those points that will put you off buying, then you should look for the features that will help you feel at home.  First, what are the local amenities like? You could love living somewhere because there is a quality takeaway just up the road or there is a local shop that everyone raves about.  It might be that you can picture your sofa in the living room, or your clothes hanging in the dressing room.

The important instructions

If you are looking for the essential guidelines, you should follow these steps:

  1. Go back more than once. Spend more than 90 minutes in the property before you decide to buy.
  2. Come back at different times of the day. Are you sure you are not on the route home for every person who works in the city?
  3. Have you walked around the house using your sense of smell?
  4. Don’t be rushed. If someone else buys it before you have a chance to consider your decision thoroughly, then it is not meant to be.  An over-eager estate agent should always be worrying.

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