Househunter’s checklist

Written by    Last updated: September 5, 2007

Buying your first home can be exciting but also a bit daunting. Here are some useful points to bear in mind when going househunting…

Lease or freehold

Not all properties are freehold so it’s worth confirming what kind of lease it has and for how many years.

Service charges

Some properties will have annual service charges; it’s useful to know what these are likely to be.

Communal parts

If there are communal areas (such as hallways, gardens and driveways) ask about who looks after them and if you need to contribute towards their upkeep.

Parking

If there’s off‐street parking, ask whether the local council has sanctioned the dropped curb. There may be resident’s parking on the street, so find out how much it works out per year.

Public transport

Being close to a train or underground station could enhance your chances of selling the property more easily.

Amenities

Having a good range of shops, supermarkets and shopping centres is an asset both to you and for getting prospective buyers in the future.

Facing

It’s worth taking along a compass to see which way the house faces, especially if there’s a garden. South and West gardens are in most demand, though if it’s a large garden it probably won’t make that much difference.

Neighbourhood

Take a look at the state of repair of houses on the street. If they look well cared for it’ll help getting buyers when you decide to sell.

Too busy

Being too near a main road or on a flight path could affect the value of your home in the years to come. Try visiting the street at different times of the day and week, to see if there are periods when it gets jammed with traffic or noisy with overhead planes.

State of the roof

Take a look on the outside of the property to see if you can spot any tiles missing. Indoors, keep a watch for one of signs of missing roof tiles i.e. signs of damp.

Subsidence

Look out for the signals of subsidence such as a bent chimney stack, an uneven roof line or cracks on the walls.

Damp

You can get an idea if the house suffers from damp by feeling plastered walls for signs of moisture and noting if wallpaper is slipping off at places.

Large trees

Having a large tree close to the house could lead to its roots undermining the property’s foundations.

Double‐glazing

Find out if the windows have been fitted with good quality double‐glazing as it’ll save on heating bills as well as keep out any traffic noise.

Central heating

Check the condition of the boiler and the radiators in the house. See if radiators are fitted with individual controls so you can turn down the heating in rooms not being used.

Storage

Keep a note of the amount of storage space in fitted wardrobes, airing cupboard, loft, cellar, shed and garage. Even if you don’t need all of it now, you might some day and it’s a useful selling point to have.

Shared walls

If there are shared walls with neighbours, find out whether these are thick enough to keep noise out or have been sound‐proofed with extra padding.

Fixtures

Ask for a list of what fixtures and fittings will be left in the house. The current owners could remove appliances and even carpets before you move in, adding greatly to your budget.

Find more advice on from our Finance & Legal articles! 

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