Finding a New Home
Finding a New Home
Where should I buy?
You would be surprised at the amount of purchasers who buy a
house on impulse. Before you even look at properties take a
little time to decide which town, village or district is for
you. If you are local you will have a fair idea of transport
links, major planning proposals, local amenities and schools
etc… If you are new to an area it is worth researching these
If you have children you will want to find out more about schools and nursery facilities. Contact the local authority administration office which should be able to help or refer you to the approximate department. If you are concerned about personal and home security you should contact the local police department. If you are concerned about transport links your local authority and local transport providers will be able to answer any questions.
What Type of Property Should I Buy?
Everyone has different priorities as to the type of property to buy. Most of us are constrained by our budget, but other considerations are:
- Cost of maintenance - older buildings often cost more to upkeep
- Parking facilities - will you be able to park close to your home?
- Shared facilities - are you concerned about sharing facilities with others (close, back garden etc.)?
- Can you use your home for work?
- Is the property suitable if you want to keep pets?
- Is there a good broadband connection?
- How regular is public transport?
It is surprising how many of us see a property once and then buy it. Happily most people are content with their purchase but others regret their haste after they move in. You should always view a property at least twice before making a bid. See it in daylight, at night in the evening and at weekends. A property which appears highly desirable on a first visit can be completely different at another time of day. A quiet street during the week can become a parking nightmare after work or a noisy thoroughfare at weekends.
If the flat is part of a larger building you may find soundproofing poor when the other flats are occupied. Street lighting can cast a glow over a building which is less attractive in the cool light of day. These are just a selection of some of the considerations you should think over carefully before committing to a property.
Where Can I Find Properties?
Today there are several ways of locating and browsing for suitable properties to view. Websites dedicated to property sales are now the most useful tool for identifying property for sale. There is also your local newspaper's property section, local estate agent and property centre mailing lists will all provide you with properties in your chosen area.
It is also worth going for a drive around any areas you are potentially interested in - you can keep an eye out for any for sale signs as these days many sellers' market their homes themselves. You can also use Google to search for properties for sale in a specific location.
What Do I Need to Know About New Build Houses?
Buying a new house is not significantly different from buying an established property. One possible advantage is that you should not have repair bills in the first few years. The house should benefit from a National House Building Council or an equivalent ten year degree.
Otherwise you must ensure there is an architect's supervision certificate and the architect's professional indemnity insurance. If there is no ten year guarantee or architect's certificate for the property you and a subsequent purchaser will have problems obtaining a mortgage without these guarantees.
Builders normally charge a fixed price so you don't have to bid blind for the property. The downside can be that you are buying before the house has been built so it can be difficult to visualise the finished house - builders will rarely commit to a completion date though estimated completion dates are usually quite accurate.
Ask the builder to mark out the extent of the garden and the house boundaries on the site as this will give you some idea of the size of the garden and any awkward shapes, slopes etc… You should also consider what if any amenities are provided locally.
You should also be aware of the fact that it is illegal to live in a house without a completion certificate from the council. Normally builders will have the property approved by the NHBC inspector who will issue a cover-note confirming satisfactory completion and then by the council building control to confirm that the property meets building regulations. The builders will then invite you for a pre-completion inspection.
This inspection will enable you to check with the site agent any matters which have not been finished as well as they might. Normally you cannot delay payment of the price if there are snagging jobs which are incomplete on the date you move in provided that the council has approved the property. The builder will still be under a continuing liability to sort any snagging problems for a period of up to two years after the property has been completed.
If the issues with the builder are not resolved amicably you should contact the NHBC or equivalent guarantee provider to act as an arbiter in the dispute. If you are dealing with a builder who is not registered with the NHBC other means of holding them to account such as retention on part of the price to allow time to deal with snagging should be considered.
How do I Get a Feel for Prices?
First of all, a warning! Very few properties in Scotland are unique. Most of our houses have been built since the First World War by local councils, government agencies or large house builders. The result is a similar property in a similar area will normally reach a similar price. Even in older properties, especially tenement flats there is usually a good guide to prices based on the size of the flats in an area.
Don't assume that the asking price reflects the market value of the property. Always ask the selling agent what the expected selling price will be. Since December 2008 most properties marketed for sale must have a Home Report which includes a valuation prepared by a chartered surveyor. This should be indicative of the market value but is not necessarily a figure the seller would be happy to sell for, particularly if the property is in a popular area.
It is also a good idea to do some research on your own; there are now websites dedicated to providing notes of what prices houses have achieved as registered in the Land Register of Scotland.
See as many properties in your price range as possible. Take notes on each of the properties good and bad points: what size and shape are the rooms? is it suitable for your existing furniture? check out the heating, electricity and plumbing; when were they last serviced? do the floors creak? will I need to decorate? is there easy access to the roof-space and is it floored? are the windows double glazed and in good condition? are there any visible damp issues in the property? are the bathroom and kitchen fittings/décor in good condition? will they need to be replaced? what are the parking arrangements? do other properties in the area look well maintained? does the roof look well maintained and are the gutter cleared?
Why do Some Sellers Ask for a Fixed Price? While Others Invite Offers Over?
Some sellers are content with a fixed price or are anxious to sell quickly. Other sellers may feel that property prices in their area are going up and want to maximise the price they hope to achieve thus you see"offers over"or "offers around".
There is no meaningful difference between these two devices. What you must remember is that by advertising their homes for sale, sellers are not legally committed to selling; they are only indicating that they may sell. A seller can ask what they like for their property and they can accept any or no offers on their home.
The highest offer is not always successful - over the last few years there has been a tendency to set the asking price below what the seller will accept. As an example a house marketed at 'offers over £120,000' could mean that the seller is looking for £150,000. The seller uses the device to attract initial interest and to hook a prospective buyer, either into increasing his mortgage to buy the house. As a result some prospective buyers have been fooled into assuming that a property in a certain area is within their budget. The home report has tempered this practice.
Should I Buy at Auction?
Auction sales have become popular in recent times due to television programmes and the financial crisis where owners and lenders who have repossessed properties have failed to sell through traditional means.
Purchasing at Auction is not to be recommended if you need a mortgage as under auction rules you are legally committed to buy before a written mortgage offer is issued by a lender and you may lose your deposit of 10% or more if you fail to pay the balance of the price on the date of entry which is usually a very short time after the auction date. In that event the Seller is also free to sell to someone else.
Furthermore you should never bid for a property until you have had a solicitor check the title deeds and obtained a search of the local authority registers in case there are any title or other existing or future financial costs which you will be liable for once you are owner.
If you fail to have these preliminary checks carried out before the auction date then you may find yourself liable for significant costs and liabilities going back several years.