Whilst purchasing a property can sometimes feel like a daunting experience, there should be nothing to fear, with a thorough approach. In fact, moving is generally an exciting new opportunity in your life that brings you optimism and new horizons. To help you make the experience as smooth as possible, here are a few handy hints to consider when planning your next move.
DO A DOUBLE TAKE
Some prospective purchasers spend more time picking out clothes than they do choosing a house to buy. Purchasing property is likely to be the biggest investment of your life, so carry out at least two viewings before submitting an official offer. Make sure you have a thorough look around the property. Keep an eye open for signs of dampness. In general, take the time to have as thorough a look as possible. 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.
Do as much research as you can on a neighbourhood, both on and offline, especially 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 burglary rates are higher or that residents simply take extra precautions? 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 10 pm on a Friday night, does it still feel as welcoming?
You’ve seen a property you love but you don’t like the look of those tired single glazed sash and case windows. No problem, right? You’re keen to buy the property anyway and press on with that two-storey wrap-around extension as soon as you pick up the keys. Look around the street, though. 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.
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. Or deal with a whole new move. Most Local Authorities in Scotland have a very easy and free-to-use online planning portal that allows you to search for all planning applications from small scale to industrial size.
You’ve been to see a flat in a traditional tenement. The flat itself has 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 and neither the landlord nor tenant have concern for the condition of the building. Trying to organize common maintenance on your own could prove tricky. As much as you put into your own unit, you want the rest of the building to be presentable and clean as well. Oh, and free from disrepair. 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 Home Report is there to assist all buyers. Make sure you read it thoroughly and ask your agent about anything you feel unsure about. 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 based 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 the advice in the Home Report survey and make a quick offer. 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 joyful experience and can also be an extremely good 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. Trust the best property lawyers in Edinburgh, Scotland, to provide you with everything you need to buy your next property - without the headache.
BC Blog editor