Buyer Beware: Top Tips on Buying a New Home
House prices are rising dramatically again, with strong demand and poor supply in many areas. The pandemic-induced WFH trend saw many people rediscover the charm and affordability of life outside of the major urban centres, which is boosting housing market activity.
The market for new builds and existing homes in commuter areas is always strong, fuelled by newly funded buyers and Covid savings. Prices are rising practically everywhere, as growing numbers chase a scarce supply of suitable housing.
All of this market activity does however introduce a new risk for buyers, apart from their obvious fear of not being able to find or afford the home they need in the area they want.
The pressure to secure a property, sometimes any property, may lead to people settling for inappropriate homes and not doing their homework properly. And, this can have serious repercussions in the long run. This is why, at (Agency RE/MAX), we ensure our buyers and sellers sense check their purchasing decisions and look at what is right for them, in terms of a home with longevity that can meet the family needs now, and into the future.
Unscrupulous people can bring properties to market that may not be all they appear, so caution, and the support of professional advisors, including your estate agent, a solicitor and often a surveyor is also important.
Thanks to better quality online photos and video content of homes for sale, it has become easier to judge beforehand if a house is likely to live up to the property listing, whether descried as a ‘fixer-upper’ or as being in ‘walk-in condition’.
HOME BUYING HOMEWORK
When it comes to homework for home buyers, (Agency RE/MAX) advise the following information is established by a prospective buyer from the outset, talking to the owners, their estate agent, neighbours and other people who know the local area;
Why is the owner selling? It is possible the owner is simply trading up to a bigger home for an expanding family, or maybe downsizing. However, it is worth asking the question, and getting chatty with the owners or even their neighbours, to tease out if there are underlying issues with the house, maybe structural problems, or with the area, in terms of neighbours or local services.
What is included in the sale? Although fixtures and fittings are usually included, it’s worth asking if appliances or garden furniture is included. No matter what is agreed, make sure it is written into your contract before you sign it.
How long has the property been on the market? This will give an indication of the level of interest in the property. If it has been for sale for a long time, is there a reason? Is it priced too high, or is the area unattractive to others and why?
How long have the owners lived there? If a property has had just one long-term owner, this is a good sign. If not, is there a reason why a property has had several previous owners who only stayed a short while?
In terms of the suitability of the property, find out how old it is and when any extensions or major alterations were done. Lower standards of construction and utilities fitting may have applied in older properties.
Also question the following;
Which way does the property face? What aspect has the rear garden, south or west are more popular, but you can expect to pay more. Some buyers, however, feel this premium isn’t a major factor in a country where we don’t have too many days to sun ourselves anyway!!
What is the property BER rating? (Building Energy Report) Every home has one and the rating is a good guide to how much it will cost to heat and run the house. “A” is the best and “G” is the lowest, but these can be improved on, so don’t rule houses out on a BER rating alone.
For anyone considering making an offer on a property, these are key questions to clarify;
What offers have the sellers had so far? This can be a good guide as to what others feel the house is worth, and the level of demand.
What is the minimum price the seller will accept? Most people would love to know this information, but whether the seller will divulge it is another thing – but worth a try!!
When do the sellers want to move? How long will you have to wait? Never sign a contract without having a specific closing date included, or you could be left waiting a long time.
Buying a home is still the largest and most important investment most people will make in their lives. So, finding somewhere that not only suits current needs, but can evolve as lifestyles change, is the ideal situation.
Ensuring your investment is sound is critical too, so resist the temptation to fall for a new kitchen or patio area, when viewing. Remember to also check out the attic, boiler, outbuildings and other less attractive aspects of a family home!
National house prices are certainly growing, although not at the unprecedented pre-crash levels. If the various incentives on housing development deliver more volume, they may level off again, although rapid delivery of housing stock does not appear likely.
Ultimately, it is crucial that people do their homework and establish prices and demand in the area they are interested in, as well as keeping an open mind on other areas, rather than committing too soon!