House buying tips
We are a nation that loves our properties – according to the Home Owners’ Alliance, 86% of people in Britain want to own their own home. Tune into your TV and most nights you’re bound to find at least one programme about how to buy, improve or sell your home. Data about how many houses have been bought and sold is regularly used as a measure of consumer confidence in the UK. Getting on the “housing ladder” is generally acknowledged as an important fiscal rite of passage.
It’s easy to see why we get so emotional about houses. But as buying a home is the biggest financial commitment you will ever make, many need to stay focused on the practical elements.
Invest time in viewings
It can be tempting to view houses online to save time and energy. But no amount of pictures will tell you if the house will work for the way your family like to live, whether that little room really would work as a home office or what the area is like, for example.
Viewings are worth the investment in time as they help you quickly realise what is important to you, which allows you to hone your search faster. You might not think a view is important until you see a house that has a room used as a home office and then realise it’s a must. Or perhaps the thought of having a spare room you’ll only use occasionally will seem less important when you see how far your money would stretch without it. You’ll never know until you get viewing.
Once you have a property you like the look of, arrange to view it again but at another time – and ideally a few more times afterwards. View at different times of the day. Daylight makes it easier to spot faults but evening viewings give you a chance to be in the house when the neighbours are at home so you can experience what life would be like living alongside them, and what the world looks like outside, when it gets dark.
Make the most of your viewings
Don’t be afraid to ask questions – make a list beforehand as it can be easy for things to slip your mind in the excitement of a viewing.
Good questions to consider, include:
• How long has the property been for sale?
• Is the owner part of a chain? Do they have somewhere to move to?
• Has the seller made (or know of) any serious alterations to the property?
• Does the seller have certificates for all serious work carried out on the property?
• What else is included in the asking price?
• Have there been any other offers?
Make notes and take pictures – you may forget details later on and if you’ve been to more than one viewing the details may become confused.
Be aware that the person selling the house is likely to have dressed it ready for the sale, so:
• Look for signs of fresh paint
• Look behind furniture for cracks or damp
• Are there a lot of lights on, even though it’s a daytime? Turn them off to see how much natural light the property gets
• Check to see whether you have mobile phone coverage in all rooms of the house
• Check the outside of the property (both front and back) and the neighbours’ property, especially if they are attached to the one you are viewing.
o Look for wear or cracks on the exterior of the building
o See whether you can spot any missing tiles on the roof
o If there’s a chimney, is it straight?
o Are the windows double glazed and in good repair?
Find out about the area
Go and walk around the neighbourhood on foot, talking to local residents to get a feel for the area. Go at different times of the day. Take someone with you as they may spot something you missed.
Check to see if any new developments are planned in the area. These will be made public by the local council and you can access all the approved building plans here.
A search using your postcode on a number of websites will analyse the risk of flooding, subsidence and other environmental problems. If you are interested, you could try this one. You can also check out the crime rates here for the area as this could mean higher insurance premiums. You could be living in the area for years, so it could pay to do this extra leg work now.
Think of your long-term future
Unless this is your forever home, chances are that you’re going to want to sell at some point in the future. Keep this in mind when buying – find out how long it has been on the market and if it’s longer than other similar properties in the area, take an objective view about why this might be. A family sized home with a small garden may be no problem for you but would other buyers overlook it? No local transport may not be an issue for you as a car owner but what about if the next buyer can’t drive? This is a useful exercise as it really does make you cast a discerning eye on the property, before you commit any money to it.
Understand the real cost
Unfortunately, the cost of buying a home is not limited to the costs associated with setting up home finance and your future monthly payments.
You may want to invest in a comprehensive survey, which can cost hundreds of pounds. If there are issues that need to be fixed, get quotes beforehand – this will not only help with budgeting but may also be a useful negotiating tool. If you want to buy a bigger property, you may need to factor in maintenance costs. With a flat, make sure you know how much your service charge is and what it covers. Check how long there is left on the lease because if there’s 80 years or less left, extensions can become very costly.
You may also have to factor in Stamp Duty if you buy a property over a certain price – you can find out more here.
Al Rayan Bank is committed to making Islamic home finance as accessible as possible, and we have a range of Home Purchase Plans from 60% to 95% finance to value. You can find out more information about the range of Sharia compliant Islamic home finance products here.
YOUR PROPERTY MAY BE AT RISK IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP THE PAYMENTS ON YOUR HOME PURCHASE PLAN