It can be a mind field when you are buying a new home, especially if it’s in an area you don’t know well.

Here is our list of things to consider when buying your next home;

Location - Make sure the property isn’t on a designated flood plain. A local search should highlight this later in the buying process, but if your home is on low lying ground or close to a river, use your common sense and simply ask if it floods.

The same with property built too close to a cliff or coastline that might be eroding over time or property built on previously industrial land or landfill. The land should have been decontaminated and the builder should have certificates to prove this. Again, your lawyer will do this formally, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Even if you are not bothered by this sort of thing, your mortgage lender might be, so it is worth making enquiries early in the process.

Type of Property - Unfortunately, mortgage lenders don’t like quirky. You might have fallen in love with that converted pub or thatched cottage but those marks of character spell ‘out of the ordinary’ to the average lender. You may need to choose a specialist mortgage lender for older or unusual property.

At the same time, many lenders will downvalue new build property (as once you move in it’s condition is only likely to deteriorate!). Most builders reflect this by offering other incentives such as help with your deposit or a contribution to carpets or curtains, etc. High rise flats are not popular with some lenders and neither are properties with shared access. Flats above shops can be an issue.

The Neighbourhood - Moving in only to find you have a jet engine enthusiast next door who’s idea of heaven is to spark up his pride and joy at 7 am every Sunday morning is going to spoil your day. Reduce this risk by visiting the property at different times of the week and of the day. Try to speak with neighbours. Introduce yourself. Ask them how long they’ve been there, do they like it there and are there any problems locally at the moment.

Check the title - If the property is being sold on a lease with under 100 years to go, many mortgage lenders will be nervous. The leaseholder may well have a right to extend the lease or buy the freehold, but a lender might want that done before he lends you money.

Check also for unusual requirements or liabilities. Some properties might have very onerous repairing obligations or rights of way across them that ruin your enjoyment of your new home. Worse still, you might not have a right to access your property or it may not have permission to even have been built! Again, your lawyer will check this, but she is unlikely to ever visit the property, so if you are not sure raise the issue and ask that she specifically checks boundaries or rights of way.

The Condition - Most people can recognise damp when they smell it. Of course, this isn’t unusual in empty property and there may be little to worry about, but keep your eyes open and your nose clear! If there is damp try and work out where it is coming from and check for leaking downpipes, breached damp proof courses, slipped tiles and damaged or blocked roof gullies and downpipes.

Older homes may need rewiring so consider having an electrician check the circuits and if necessary build in such costs into your offer. The same goes for damp, drainage and things like old plaster, external retaining walls and driveways.

Local Changes - If your property enjoys a beautiful view or is next to an open field, don’t assume it will always be there. Have a look at the Development Plan, speak with the local planning department and see whether development is likely in the foreseeable future. The same with local airports and train stations. Are changes afoot? Ask and check.

Don’t Assume - When it comes to buying a house, don’t assume. Check what is included and what is not when you make your offer and detail it in your offer letter, subject to contract. Check whether your seller's plans to move are conditional on things like another house sale, a job offer or similar. That way you won’t be surprised by the effects on you of apparently unrelated events.

Most importantly, make sure you are well prepared, organised and well represented by good advisors.

Understand what you are signing up to and properly evaluate any risks and/or insure against them. A good example of this might be the ancient Parish Precepts in parts of England which might suddenly leave you with a proportion of a repair bill for the local parish church!

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