The Blair Cadell property experts offer some useful tips for spring house hunters

Whilst purchasing a property can sometimes feel like a daunting experience there should be nothing to fear.

Edinburgh horizon

DOUBLE TAKE

Some purchasers spend more time choosing clothes than choosing a house to buy. Property is likely to be the biggest investment of your life so carry out at least two viewings before submitting an offer, and make sure you have a thorough look around the property. Don’t be shy about testing windows to make sure they all open and close properly. Check behind furniture for any signs of damp. In general have a good snoop! It’s worth noting that if you have an offer accepted you won’t be permitted access to the property again until after you’ve concluded the contract. By then it’s too late for second thoughts.

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH

Do as much research as you can on an area if you are unfamiliar with it. Does every house you see come with a top of the range burglar alarm ? If so is this a sign that the burglary rates are higher than average? Why is there a burnt-out Yamaha abandoned at the local park? Is the area blighted by anti-social behaviour problems? A street can look perfectly nice on a sunny Sunday afternoon viewing but when you return at 10pm on a Friday night does it feel as welcoming ?

ALTERED IMAGES

You’ve seen a property you love but you don’t like the look of those tired single glazed sash and case windows. You’re also keen to press on with that two-storey wrap around extension as soon as you pick up the keys. Look around the street. Do the other properties all have the same single glazed sash and case windows and original building layout? It could well be that the property is in a Conservation Area or forms part of a Listed Building. In those circumstances you might not be permitted to carry out the changes you want. You can easily find out information about Conservation Area and Listed Building status online by accessing your Local Authority and Historic Environment Scotland websites.

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

If you’ve just bought your charming country idyll it’s highly likely that the last thing you want to discover is that there’s a supermarket about to be built in the field next door. Often sellers will suffer selective amnesia when it comes to disclosing matters like this. If they have deliberately misheld such information you should be protected by the contract. However if you’ve already parted with the cash and the sellers have disappeared to the other side of the world you could face years of legal wrangling trying to extricate yourself from the situation. Most Local Authorities in Scotland have a very easy, and free to use, online planning portal which allows you to search for all planning applications - from small scale to industrial size.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

You’ve been to see a flat in a traditional tenement. The flat itself is presented beautifully however the secure entry system on the front door of the tenement is broken, there is graffiti on the outside walls and the common stairwell is overflowing with rubbish. This is a pretty obvious sign of disinterested occupants. Perhaps a large proportion of the flats are rented - either long term or as holiday lets - and neither the landlord nor tenant have concern for the condition of the building. Trying to organise common maintenance could prove tricky. That's particularly worth bearing in mind if you're buying a top floor flat. If there are any roof leaks you could face difficulty in chasing contributions to the cost of repairs and all the while the buckets in your living room continue to collect rainwater.

THE GAMBLER

The Home Report is there to assist all buyers. Make sure you read it thoroughly and ask your agent if there is anything you are unsure of. If the Home Report survey indicates potential issues such as missing slates on the roof, corroded downpipes, above average damp readings etc, you have to make a decision on how risk averse you are. If you have time before a closing date you might wish to commission further inspections to establish the extent of potential underlying defects. In a competitive market however many buyers will ignore advice in the Home Report survey which suggests further enquiries are made. If you are one such buyer then you must be prepared to accept that the money you set aside for those lovely bespoke furnishings may end up being spent on a damp proof course. Better to keep a few pounds in your back pocket just in case.

Buying a house should be a positive and happy experience as well las being a sound investment. If you do your homework in advance you can avoid the money pits and instead live happily ever after in the home of your dreams.
If you require further advice on purchasing a property we’d love to hear from you. Our property team has extensive knowledge and experience of giving considered advice on all property and related legal matters.
Call 0131 337 1800 or click and ask to speak to any member of the Blair Cadell Property Team