Buying a house is the ultimate life goal for most people. However, purchasing a home is getting more difficult with the rising cost of living. Just when you’re ready to buy, things keep changing. That’s why it’s important to know what to think about when you buy a house.
Trends keep changing in the housing market. So, it’s worth registering your interest with relevant organisations if you want to know about the best new homes available. Signing up for emails and alerts from letting agents and auctioneers will give you that edge you need to get your spoke in ahead of the crowd.
Then, when you do hear about these viewings or developments, you will also need to have your finances in order. An up-to-date loan approval, proof of finance and any other relevant documents will allow you to sign that contract right away.
If you haven’t yet sold your property and see something you like, discuss this with the selling agent. They may be open to selling to you.
When you’ve decided where you want to live, try visiting that neighbourhood at different times of the day. Doing this will help you get a sense of what it’s like to live there. For example, will you be able to walk to certain places from your new home? Sports clubs, shops, even a supermarket? Where’s the nearest spot to go for a coffee? Can you grab those forgotten groceries late at night or first thing in the morning? Is the street busy? Who will your neighbours be?
So, you’re financially prepared to purchase your new property, but, as with everything, there are more costs to look out for. The home’s booking deposit is one. This deposit is typically 2 to 5 % of the property’s purchase price. You will need to pay the booking deposit once the offer has been accepted. Thankfully, the booking deposit is also completely refundable until the contract is signed.
Then there’s stamp duty. Stamp duty is 2 to 4 % of the house’s value and needs to be paid after the contracts are exchanged. If this is your first home or a new building, you may be eligible for stamp duty relief, depending on where you live.
Other possible costs may include a bank valuation, a surveyor’s report and solicitor’s fees. Then there are long-term costs like annual service charges and other household bills. Knowing these costs and planning for them will help you understand the actual price of your prospective new home.
When you view a house, of course, it will be spotless. But remember that you are visiting the place to understand what it will be like to live there. So, try everything out. Turn the lights off to see how bright the rooms are in the daytime. Check out the storage – see if there would be space for your clothes. If storage is limited, will there be space for a wardrobe or chest of drawers once you get your bed in? Will there be room in the landing or hallway? Maybe you can build more storage.
And what about outside? Look for off-street parking and find out where you can keep your bins. Is there any room for a bike? Is there space for barbecuing?
These days, everyone uses Google Maps to get around. This app is reasonably accurate, but test out distances yourself, too. Try driving or walking to the places you will want to go by yourself, and check the mileage and time it takes. You may even like to invest in a good map of the place you want to live and check how close each prospective home is to rail links, bus stops, schools and shops.
Try commuting to your work from the new home during the working week at rush hour. Also, research any bus passes or rail cards you can get.
Again, the house will look beautiful on viewing day. But, once you move in, you discover its impracticalities. For example, big windows and glass doors may let lots of light in at first, but this light may soon get blocked by chairs, tables and sofas. Plus, you may need to hang curtains for the winter months.
It’s also worth checking that you like the way doors open. Make sure doors open easily and be prepared to fix them. For example, if the door handles will knock against the wall or handles on other doorways, you’ll need to change this. Some doors may also be a hazard when they swing open.
Be sure that you like the stairs, too. Stairs with an impractical tread, width, or low headroom will become very frustrating when you try bringing all your furniture in!
What about kitchen storage? The cupboards may seem ample, but if they don’t go all the way to the ceiling, isn’t it just dead space? If you find your new house’s kitchen storage limited, it will be simple enough to update the kitchen later.
You may be happy with the space in your new house for now. But it’s always a good idea to have the option for space conversion. For example, an attic or basement conversion can be a straightforward and affordable way to add more space.
Even if your new home came furnished or painted, it’s still your brand-new blank canvas, just waiting to be filled with your personality. Now is the time to think about what works for you. For example, do you plan on cooking with speed and precision often? If so, a natural gas cooker could be the best option. If you want your bedrooms to be warm and cosy, opting for carpet or rugs is a good idea.
It’s also good to think about what the developer is offering already. The home might already have on-trend matching rose gold door handles and bathroom hardware if you’re looking at a modern building. You might see mismatched fittings in an older home, but you could easily update one or two things to match.
You may need to repair floorboards or tiles later, so ask where the current flooring came from. This way, you can have some on hand for repairs.