Top tips for buying a home

Buying a home is never easy, regardless of whether it’s your first time or your fifth. With an array of costs to think about, complicated house buying jargon and the seemingly never-ending paperwork, securing your dream home can be exhausting. Fortunately, we know a thing or two about moving home and that includes searching for your perfect house. Here are some of our top tips for the buying process.

Get to know the jargon

There’s a lot of house buying terms that can be confusing. Getting your head around some of these key terms can save a lot of time and stress. Here are some of the main ones to look out for:

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR) – the total charge for the money lent to you for the loan. It includes fees and interest.
  • Bank of England Base Rate – the rate of interest set by the Bank of England that high street banks use to calculate the interest rate they charge for some loans.
  • Chartered Surveyor – offer impartial, specialist advice on property related issues including valuing property and looking for structural problems.
  • Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) – a qualified person who checks the property’s energy efficiency and recommends ways to improve energy use.
  • Energy Performance Certificate –(EPC) – the document provided by the DEA that defines the property’s energy performance.
  • Freehold – describes the dwelling and the land that it stands on which is owned by the possessor indefinitely.

There is plenty more, so make sure you spend some time looking up some of the key abbreviations and jargon that could crop up.

When buying a home try not to be confused about the jargon

Consider all the costs

This includes your deposit but also all the other immediate costs involved in buying a property. Your deposit will depend on whether you are using a Help to Buy scheme or something similar, but you can use a Mortgage Deposit Calculator to help you figure out when you have enough money for a deposit.

You’ll then need to think about your other costs and fees which will typically include:

  • Mortgage arrangement fee – sometimes non-refundable even if the deal falls through
  • Valuation fee – the fee that lenders charge for a valuation to check the property exists and the loan is sufficient
  • Legal fees – solicitor and conveyancing fees
  • Stamp duty
  • Surveys
  • Moving costs – removals, storage and so on

One of the top tips for buying a home is to make sure you account for all the costs

Use a range of property finders

Today, buyers are spoiled for choice in terms of the tools available to search for a dream home. Make sure you use a variety to get the best choice possible and branch out from what’s offered by your local estate agents. Right Move and Zoopla are two of the most popular, but there are many more including up and coming ones.

Get the timing right

This isn’t always in your control but it’s always better to sell your own home before you buy if possible. If you can stay with friends or family, selling first will give you the advantage of being a cash buyer although you should weigh up the costs of storage or renting if you have nowhere to stay in the interim. If this isn’t an option for you as it isn’t for many people, then you’ll just have to try and work out the timings so that your property is well on the way to being sold before you put in your own offer.

Try and sell your home or have a deal agree before putting in an offer yourself

Get a mortgage ‘agreement in principle’

This a written confirmation from your lender on the amount they are willing to lend you to buy your home. Having this in place is an advantage over other buyers who may not have one as it shows you’re a serious buyer with the funds ready to go, enabling you to more easily secure your property. It will also help you better plan your budget and finances beforehand.

Visit the area at different times

This includes the house itself if possible. This is important to get a good idea of what the area is really like, including how busy and congested the roads get and whether it’s as safe and quiet at night as it is during the day. Don’t forget to look at the neighbours’ homes and even knock on their door to ask them some quick questions. This is a great opportunity to make sure that your dream house is also in a dream location.

Visit the house you want to buy at all times of day and get to know the location before you buy

Research the area for local properties

Get a good idea of what other properties in the area are selling for so you can figure out what your own offer should be. This could indicate whether it’s worth putting in a low offer to try and save some money, or if a low offer might be rejected for a better one. If properties are selling fast in the area, you may also want to think about making your decision as quickly as possible to snap up your perfect house.

Secure your dream home

Ask the seller to take it off the market as a condition of an offer when you’re ready to. You may need to be in an advantageous position to ask this, such as being a cash buyer, but by getting the house off the market you avoid the possibility of being outbid by another last-minute buyer.

When you your buy a new home ask them to take it off the market as soon as possible

Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions

When viewing your dream home don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Even if the owners aren’t honest with you, you may be able to gauge from their reactions when there could be a potential problem. Here are some basic and casual questions you can ask that are simple enough to answer but could be huge indicators about the real condition of the house and whether you could put in a lower offer.

  • How many viewings has it had?
  • How many offers has it had?
  • How long as it been on the market?
  • What renovations have been done?
  • When was it last rewired?
  • How long have the sellers lived there?
  • What’s included in the sale?
  • What is the parking like?

Look out for deal breakers

As well as asking some tough questions keep your own eyes peeled for any deal breakers around the home. This typically includes wet spots, mould or peeling wallpaper that could indicate potential damp issues as well as checking to make sure all the doors and windows open and shut properly. Similarly, check light switches and look at ceilings and walls for cracks, brown stains, drips and other issues.

Look out for problem areas before you buy a home like damp and mould

Take pictures when viewing

When you’re viewing properties, they can all start to blur together. Take pictures of all the houses you see so that you have something to refer to and remind you of each property. It will also make it easier to compare properties to each other and even spot potential problems that you didn’t see at the time.

Only use professionals

Use trade checker websites and read reviews to make sure you’re only using professionals. This includes estate agents, solicitors, removals companies and storage. You’ll of course want to shop around for the best deals, but don’t choose your service providers just based on price. Sometimes it’s worth paying a bit extra to ensure you get the best possible service. This is important when buying a house as ensuring the process runs smoothly and quickly will help you secure your dream home and avoid scaring off sellers.

Only use professionals when buy a home

Be around for communications

It may sound obvious, but make sure you consider how much time you’ll need to find and secure your house and try not to book any holidays or trips during this period. Make yourself as available as possible so you can stay on top of communications and respond to any issues that arise as quickly as possible, otherwise you risk your deal falling through.

Start booking things right away

Don’t hang around! Once you’ve had an offer accepted and the process starts properly, start booking and arranging all the services you need. Try and arrange a handover and move in date as soon as possible so you can secure the best removals and storage deals and have everything organised in advance.

Want more advice with securing storage for your big move? Contact one of our team, we’ll always happy to advise on how we can make storage fit into your time and budget demands.

Packing Pug

I'm Percy the Packing Pug. What I don't know about self storage isn't worth knowing! Check out my latest blog posts for top tips on storage solutions near you.