Top Tips – What to Remember as a First Time Buyer

So you’ve spent some time shopping around for the best location in conjunction with your career, you’ve looked at schools, local shops and available parking spaces and everything in between. So what else should you look for when viewing your first property? As a first time buyer, purchasing a property can be a daunting concept, which is understandable as is often one of the most important purchases we can make in our lifetime.

Doing a decent amount of research and making sure you know what to look for when going for a house viewing is only half of the journey, as some people can get flustered once they meet the estate agent, or they might not get a good enough look of the property. Some estate agents work on pretty busy schedules, so you may be pressed for time, whereas others will give you all the time in the world to look around. Sometimes you may even be able to speak with the previous owner, so this is a good opportunity to ask them some questions about the home.

A decision can be made in a very short period of time, but it is important to remember that this might be the home you spend the rest of your life living in. If that is the case, you definitely want to make sure this is the property you are looking for. We’ve put together a few top tips that would be good for a first time buyer to bear in mind when looking at potential properties.

Bring an Older or More Experienced Family Member or Friend Viewing with you
If this is your first time ever viewing a home to buy, you’re not going to have any experience of what the process entails. You may have a concept of what happens and while it is not exactly a complicated process, it can be easy to get caught up in the flow of things and end your visit having not looked at anything of great interest.

By asking an older friend or relative to come with you when you conduct the viewing, you gain a second pair of eyes and a more experienced opinion on certain matters. This can be extremely helpful in looking at potential problem areas such as defects, for example. A more experienced family member will also know what questions should be posed to the estate agent or previous owner, and can offer a more ‘neutral’ opinion on the condition of a house.

Beware of Recently Painted Properties
This is a potential defect in disguise. While many homeowners try to repaint their properties prior to selling them as a means of renovating the property and making it look fresh and new for potential buyers, it can be a way to cover up flaking plaster as well as mould or damp. If the paint looks fresh or smells fresh, make sure to ask or check for damp spots as it can be a nightmare in reparation costs if you happen to discover damp after making the purchase. When in doubt, it may be best to avoid those kinds of situations and instead look at other properties.

Ask to see an EPC
An EPC or an Energy Performance Certificate is required if you are selling or renting out a home. It represents an approximate reading for the energy efficiency level of that property and will also provide advice on how that efficiency level can be improved. Properties with a better efficiency reading are worth more, yet cost less to run throughout the year. If you are concerned about heating and electricity costs as well as your carbon footprint, getting a hold of this document for the prospective property is essential.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions
The estate agent who is showing you around should have some information on the property in question, although in many cases it is extremely helpful if you can get hold of the previous owner. While an estate agent is trained to know about the property and its prospects, they often have several other properties that they are looking after, so it is only generally a basic knowledge of the property. The previous owner has experienced living in the property, sometimes for quite some time, and can give a more accurate recount of what the property is like. Another good question to ask the previous owner is their reason for moving. It may be something fairly normal such as ‘change of career’ or ‘needed more space to start a family’, but if it is something like ‘neighbours kids are a bit noisy on the weekends’ this may be important to note.

It can be difficult to conduct a full property inspection when you are only going there for a viewing, but it is important that you manage to iron out some of the details before making your offer. At the end of the day, a detailed survey is likely to highlight any major defects which need repairs, but it can be helpful to know what you are getting yourself into ahead of time. That being said, looking for your first home is not all doom and gloom! Approach each new viewing with an open mind and a friend or relative who is willing to offer an honest and brutal second opinion, and you should do just fine.

This article was provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with a number of firms within the property industry, including Southdown Surveyors – who were consulted over the information contained within this piece.

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