House Buying Tips

House Buying Tips

It's the biggest purchase of your life, and small mistakes can cost large.

So I've written this blog - a house-buying battleplan, with over 50 top tips and tricks, from how to squeeze sellers for information to finding solicitors and surveyors.

#TIP 1

Use a Mortgage Deposit Calculator. Deals become more competitive at 10% or 15%, and for the really decent rates, you need 25%.

#TIP 2

Use Historical Sales-Prices tools to research realistic prices of a road and area. Rightmove, Zoopla and Nethouseprices are amongst the most commonly used.

#TIP 3

Consider typical timeline (for England and Wales)

  • Find a property: Research the area, scour estate agents and search websites: 3 to 9 months
  • Offer to Exchange: 2 to 8 weeks
  • Exchange to Move In: 0 to 2 weeks.

#TIP 4

Boost your credit rating.

#TIP 5

Arrange a mortgage in principle

#TIP 6

House prices are markets, just like shares.

No one can guarantee what's going to happen to house prices, though many will try.

#TIP 7

Check out the neighbourhood

#TIP 8

Use the right property finders. Rightmove and Zoopla are the most popular.

#TIP 9

Before putting in an offer, pose as many questions as possible. Typical questions include:

  1. How many viewings has it had?

  2. How many offers has it had?

  3. How long has it been on the market?

  4. Can I see electrical and gas installation checks/reports?

  5. How long is the lease (if it has one)?

  6. Have there been any neighbour disputes?

  7. Why are the vendors moving and are they sure they want to sell now?

  8. What renovations have been done?

  9. How old is the boiler and when was it last inspected?

  10. When was it last rewired?

  11. Where are the vendors moving to - is there a chain?

  12. If a flat, how much are service charges and ground rent?

  13. Who lives upstairs/downstairs/next door?

  14. How long has the seller lived there?

  15. What's included in the sale? White goods? Curtains? Wood burner?

  16. Are there any parking issues?

  17. If there's a real fireplace, is it safe to use?

  18. Have there been any subsidence problems?

  19. What's the council tax band?

#TIP 10

With the Owner/Agent's permission, take photo's during the viewing. You can use them as a reference point.

#TIP 11

View at different times of day to get an idea of what the flat and neighbourhood are like.

#TIP 12

Set an alert on Rightmove and it will email each time a property lists in the area you're interested in.

#TIP 13

Knock on a neighbours door. They may offer tip-offs on the area or home, but it's also a chance for you to get the measure of them.

#TIP 14

Use Rightmove's tool to discover which schools are nearby and how they rank.

 #TIP 15

If you don't want to live in the property until you die, consider ease of resale.

#TIP 16

To find out how much Stamp Duty you'll have to pay, use an online Stamp Duty Calculator

#TIP 17

Look for at least 83 years on the lease. When flats have 80 years or less left, extensions become very costly and homes much more difficult to sell. Under 60 years, it's a nightmare.

#TIP 18

Beware leaseholds on new-build houses. In late 2016 it emerged that buyers of new-build properties were being caught in a leasehold trap.

#TIP 19

Check what's being built in the area. Will that picture-postcard sea view be replaced by a high rise in a couple of months?

#TIP 20

Make your offer on the condition that the seller “takes the home off the market". 

#TIP 21

Chase your solicitor. To put it politely, some solicitors work at their own pace. 

#TIP 22

Considering buying a leasehold flat? Can you buy the freehold?

#TIP 23

Auction properties can be cheaper than market values. There are properties out there for under £20,000, but auctions don't always equal bargains. Research and renovations are usually needed.

#TIP 24

Get the right survey. There are two main types of survey. The first is a homebuyer's report. This normally costs £300-£400 and is suitable for conventional properties less than 50 years old. For older or quirkier residences, consider a full structural survey. 

#TIP 25

Flood risk has a significant impact on insurance premiums and a property's value. Carry out research on whether and why an area's at risk.

#TIP 26

Check your council tax band. Up to 400,000 homes in England and Scotland may have been in the wrong band since the early 1990s.

#TIP 27

10 Top Questions to ask the seller, before Completion:

  1. Where's the main stopcock (to shut off the water)?

  2. Where are the gas and electricity meters?

  3. Do any surfaces need special cleaning products, for example, wooden floors?

  4. What day do the dustmen come?

  5. Do you have any old tins of paint in the same colour as the walls?

  6. Do you have any instruction manuals or warranties on electrical items?

  7. Where did the kitchen and bathroom tiles come from?

  8. Where did any fixed furniture come from, eg, kitchen cabinets?

  9. Who supplies the energy, broadband and home phone?

  10. Where is the thermostat?


#TIP 28

Removals; check the company belongs to the British Association of Removers.

#TIP 29

Get home insurance quotes before buying.

#TIP 30

Don't buy your lenders' mortgage life assurance. Shop around for quotes.




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Titles include:

  • How to maximise your sale price
  • How to ensure a hassle-free sale
  • How to attract more buyers
  • Change of address checklist
  • The conveyancing process
  • Packing made easy

And many more.

Heenay Joshi