Helpful tips if you’re thinking about buying a home

Helpful tips if you’re thinking about buying a home

Author Aira Torralba

Thinking about buying a house? If you’re taking the plunge, you’ll probably get lots of advice on trends for decorating and what to grow in the garden. But there’s a big difference between spotting the ideal home in an estate agent’s window, and buying a property that’s a candidate for the Ideal Home exhibition.

The whole process may feel overwhelming. In fact, some of the homeowners we’ve spoken to say the best, most practical, advice often gets overlooked – handy tips like these, for example real words of wisdom from real people. Having said that, if you’re excited, there’s probably no holding you back! So, we say…

Read everything carefully

Use your conveyancing documents to find out not only what you’re buying, but what you could be ‘buying into’ in terms of maintaining, improving or even updating, repairing and extending a house that’s caught your eye.

For example, a survey tells you about the structure of a building and the land it’s on. If it’s a Homebuyer’s Report, it’ll be around a couple of hundred pounds; an in-depth Buildings Survey may cost over a thousand pounds. Either way, these documents are only worth having if you’re prepared to read them carefully and act on what they tell you. Hairline cracks? They may need to be investigated further. Untested electrics and plumbing? You can get quotes in advance. And while restrictions on your deeds may not show up in a survey, they will appear in your solicitor’s bundle from the Land Registry. It’s up to you, to read them carefully.

Look into every aspect of the location

Your conveyancing documents will tell you a lot about a house. And a good search engine will tell you a lot about the surrounding area: if a house is on a flood plain or in an area that’s had problems with contaminants in recent years, for example. But what a survey can’t tell you, is what your neighbourhood will be like.

Drive past in the evening and early morning, at key times of the day – such as school closing times, or during traditional ‘rush hour’. Go into the local shops, visit the Doctor’s surgery, walk your dog in the local park – get a real feel for where you’ll be living.

Carry on those habits

Unless you’ve been very fortunate, it’s probably taken a bit of time to save for the deposit and fund all the moving costs. Those are fantastic habits to have – saving regularly, putting money away for things that are important to you.

Carry on that brilliant work! You’ll have a whole new set of overheads to get used to (maybe for the first time if you’ve not paid for Council Tax or a TV License before), and this is an ideal moment to set up some new savings habits that will serve you well, in coming years.

  • Think you’ll want to redecorate? Get a small empty paint pot, pop spare £2 coins in it. 
  • Worried about bills? Buy a couple of cheaper own-brand options when you shop.
  • Feel like a holiday already? Set up a small, regular transfer into a savings account.

When you’re putting that first foot on the housing ladder, there’s so much to think about – where to buy, what to buy, and how to make that new house ‘feel like home’. We always say it’s a good idea to relax and take your time. Plan ahead. And ask people to tell you what made a difference to them, when they were buying a house. Small ideas could make a big difference to the house you’re buying and the home you choose…

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