Imagine ... you are thinking of buying your first own home. You realise that it's important to take your time, do your research and be clear about what your expectations are. Also finding the right strategy on how to look for it, is crucial. Do you want to approach a Real Estate Agent/Specialist or do you want to look for it privately? This is a one in a lifetime investment, which requires considerable time and large amounts of money from your side. Taking a wise decision is therefore important.
One thing is sure: once you buy your first home, you might make some mistakes in the process. Would you have the opportunity to buy another home later on, you would surely know what mistakes to avoid after having had your first experience. Here is a list of 15 valuable tips which should help you to minimise your mistakes when purchasing your dream home, be it a flat or a house.
1) Ask yourself what your priorities are. Make a list of things that are important to you. For example: Do you want to buy a flat or a house? What is your preferred area, in the city or countryside? What is the kind of safety that you expect? With a garden or without garden? With or without car parking? In a quiet or busy area? What facilities do you wish to have nearby? etc.
2) Check out the area carefully. Go there at different times and days (weekdays and weekends) and get a better idea as to how it feels like living there. Is it quiet, well maintained and clean? Talk to people living in the surrounding area. Read what crime reports and noise level checks of that particular area are saying. Two important things that you should not ignore!
3) Find out more about your neighbours. Are they nice people, couples with kids or pets, or people from disadvantaged backgrounds who have antisocial behaviour issues? Find out if there have been any disputes with neighbours so far.
4) Check if everything inside the house is working properly. For example, don't hesitate to turn the water tabs on and off, to open the windows, to check the alarm system, to flush the toilet, to open cupboards and drawers, to close every door, to look for cracks on the walls, to find damp spots on the ceiling, check the sockets, look for leaks at radiators, switch on your phone to make sure that the reception is working, etc. Also check if certain rooms have things in place that you expect. For example, a window in a bathroom, every room with their own radiator etc. And last but not least, on a rainy day, go there and check if the gutter is leaking.
5) What about the payment terms? How much does it really cost you to buy the property, including: property price, legal fees, different types of taxes etc.? How are you paying it: in full or by taking up a mortgage? What other paperwork is required from you as a buyer?
6) Can you make any alterations inside or outside your property or are you bound to a contract with strict regulations?
7) For those who have kids: Usually your child would get a place only in schools in that particular catchment area. Are you sure you have good options to choose from? Or are you considering private schooling for which you might have to travel a longer distance?
8) What facilities are nearby, such as: grocery stores, petrol station, hospital, playground for kids, place of worship, parks, restaurants etc. And how far is your workplace from your new property? Are you (or your life partner/spouse) commuting by car and if not, how easy would it be for you to access public transport means?
9) What is included in the sale: furniture, white goods or anything else? Are there any additional monthly maintenance fees that need to be paid? When is the property available to move in?
10) Make sure you approach a professional who can carry out a survey and issue you a homebuyer's report with all the relevant details. You must be made aware in advance whether there are any issues with the property you are planning to buy. Get a price estimate to make sure you got a good and fair deal. Compare it with other similar properties in that particular area.
11) Ask lots of questions to the seller or the Real Estate Agent. For example: When were the last checks been carried out, such as gas and electrical installation? How old is the boiler and when did the last inspection take place? Are there any fire and safety assessments? Why are the previous owners moving out and how long have they been living there? How long is the lease (if there is any) ask to see it, too. How many people showed interest in the same property and how long has it been on the market for? Who provides broadband, home phone, energy, water, etc.? Remember, you are not buying groceries but a home, a one in a lifetime investment! No question is irrelevant!
12) In case you are a pet lover. Make sure there are no issues with keeping your pet.
13) If you don't already have them from the agency, take additional pictures so that you can have a look at them once you compare it with other places you are going to visit.
14) Make sure you get everything properly in writing, such as a list of all fittings and fixtures, the right fittings, the fire grate, TV aerial cable screws, etc. You surely don't want to get the keys to a property which is stripped-bare.
15) Before you commit to the purchase of a property, make sure you get quotes from several companies for your home insurance. Do again your research, compare the benefits and then choose your best option.
Now you should be well equipped with lots of useful tips when buying your first home. However, it might not be a bad idea to read up on other peoples' experiences online and find out in what way they succeeded as property hunters. The internet is full of useful information and videos. The more you research and read the better informed you will be. This will allows you to make the right decision and find the best home for your specific needs.
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