Buying guide 
Guide to Buying a House

Like all potential investments, there are risks attached.
If you want your investment to grow and show a profit, you must spend your money wisely and buy a property at the right price in the right place at the right time.

Investing in Bricks and Mortar

Having somewhere to live is a primary need. However home ownership can also prove to be a tremendous investment.

Like all potential investments, there are risks attached. If you want your investment to grow and show a profit, you must spend your money wisely and buy a property at the right price in the right place at the right time. You must also be resigned to selling at the right time too.

There are several ways of ensuring your investment pays the right dividends.

1. You can buy a dilapidated property and do it up.
2. You can buy during a trough in the market and sell when prices seem to have risen to their zenith.
3. You can buy an additional property, do it up and rent it out to tenants.
4. You can buy a home that can be enlarged as the years pass by.

You can discuss each of these options with your Estate Agent or financial advisor.

Consider Needs Before Buying

Knowing what you want when you start looking for a new home is an obvious necessity. It is surprising therefore that a large number of people begin their search without any clear idea of their actual needs.
They may know they need something 'bigger'. They may have decided the garden should be 'better'. They may even have come to the conclusion that a 'more convenient location' would be desirable but, they have seldom stopped to consider what those needs actually are in real terms. 'Bigger' for example may mean an extra bedroom or more, or a larger reception room or just larger rooms.
Being specific about what you want will help your estate agent locate a selection of suitable properties, and you will be able to look at properties that are as near your requirements as possible and no-one's time will have been wasted.

So when you decide to move, your first job should be to set down on paper, exactly what it is you will be looking for.

  • Start with a list of essential accommodation - number of bedrooms, etc. for example.

  • • Then list all the other aspects of a home that are important - location, proximity to schools or railway stations.

  • • What would you like in your ideal home or what would you definitely not want in a home - perhaps some aspect of your existing home that you have never liked!

Use your check list when considering all the properties that you receive from agents and also when you visit those you have selected to view. It will help you make an objective choice of properties for your shortlist.

Ask Questions As You View

House buyers are surprisingly shy of asking what may be considered 'awkward' questions when they are viewing a potential new home. This is an odd quirk. A house is probably the most expensive thing people buy in their lives. Those same people are just the ones who will examine the smaller purchases in their lives with minute care, demanding discounts, reductions or replacements when things don't quite come up to scratch. Somehow however, it just doesn't seem right to be asking searching questions about anything quite as private and personal as a person's home.

When buying a property steel yourself to be hard. Before you arrive, list the questions you need to know such as; whose boundaries are the responsibility of whom; when the house was last re-wired; whether any working chimneys have ever been specially surveyed; and what the thermal output and fuel consumption of the boiler are? Note down all the answers you are given.

The list of facts that you compile as you walk through the property will be invaluable when it comes to determining a final offer.

The Role Of The Solicitor

When buying a home, many people ask the question; 'Why do I need a solicitor?'

It's hard to see just what solicitors do for fee since so much of their work is never seen by their clients. It's important and essential work, however, because it ensures the property is free to be sold and that there are no unexpected plans that would affect its use. The solicitor also sets out the contract, looks after the initial deposit and transfers the final part of the deposit to the mortgage lender when the time comes.

Making An Offer

Once you have found the house you want at a price you can afford, you can hardly wait to make your interest known. However, don't rush in too fast. The asking price may be within your budget but if you make a lower offer, you may get it for a little less.

Apart from wanting to spend rather less than the asking price, there may be good reasons why you won't want to pay what the sellers want.

Study the survey report. If it suggests immediate outlay on some building work, ask the sellers to reduce the asking price commensurably. It may be your mortgage lender will insist on certain work to be carried out before they advance the whole loan. This can involve you in an expensive bridging loan as well as costing you the price of the building work.

It is not unreasonable to ask the sellers to contribute by at least meeting you half way or even more on these unexpected expenses. They will have to face the fact after all that, unless they find a buyer who is less bothered about money, you are offering them the best opportunity for achieving a sale fast. One should also consider the length of time the property has been on the market. The estate agent should tell you this if you ask. It gives you a negotiation lever.

The final point to consider is the price of other, similar properties on the market in the district.

Completion Of Contracts

The sale or purchase of a built property usually takes place in two parts - exchange and completion of contracts.

On exchange, the buyer becomes totally responsible for insuring the building. He or she has no rights of entry at this stage. However, neither buyer nor seller can back out of the transaction unless there are very exceptional and rare circumstances.

It must be stressed that exchange of contracts may take place some time after they have been signed, which confuses some people who think one equals the other. The contracts are signed in advance of exchange for convenience so that when the solicitors involved have decided the time has come to make the exchange, it can be done with no further preamble. At this stage the full 10 per cent deposit is paid over to the seller's solicitor.

On completion day, your solicitor will have arranged for the rest of the asking price to be transferred to the sellers and will have the keys. The buyer collects these and can now take possession.

At last they have their new home and all that's left to do is move in.


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