Ques­tion time

As a sur­vey re­veals many buy­ers wish they’d known more about their prop­erty, TV’s Phil Spencer shares his ex­pert tips.

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - West Country Homes - By ABI JACK­SON

Buy­ing a prop­erty can be a very lengthy process with lots of back and forth – but many buy­ers still end up wish­ing they’d found out just a few more cru­cial de­tails be­fore the deal was fi­nalised.

Cal­i­for­nia Shut­ters (cal­i­for­ni­ashut­ters.co.uk) re­cently asked 1,000 UK home­own­ers what they most wished they’d known about be­fore pur­chas­ing their prop­erty: Com­pe­ti­tion for park­ing spa­ces came out tops (20%), fol­lowed by noisy neigh­bours (19%), high ren­o­va­tion costs (13%) and traf­fic noise (11%).

Oliver Robert­son at Cal­i­for­nia Shut­ters com­ments: “While our sur­vey shows most movers have a good aware­ness of prob­lems like damp and pests prior to mov­ing in to a new home, they can still be caught off guard by other things such as hav­ing to fight for park­ing spa­ces or deal with noise from next door or traf­fic from the road.”

TV prop­erty guru Phil Spencer, who re­cently launched the ad­vice site for buy­ers MoveIQ, agrees that as well as the ‘big’ ques­tions, the ‘small’ things should not be over­looked.

“Buy­ing a home is al­ways a mix­ture of heart and head. Your first im­pres­sion as you walk through the door is cru­cial to your de­ci­sion, but so too are many other less ob­vi­ous fac­tors,” says Spencer.

“It’s es­sen­tial that you do your home­work, or you risk be­ing blinded by emo­tion dur­ing the pur­chase. Even worse, you could end up with ex­pen­sive prob­lems down the line.

“Ask­ing the right ques­tions be­fore, dur­ing or af­ter that first view­ing can make the dif­fer­ence be­tween iden­ti­fy­ing the per­fect home and hav­ing an un­wanted sur­prise af­ter you’ve com­mit­ted to buy­ing.”

Here, Spencer, who cer­tainly knows a thing or two about house-hunt­ing, shares his top five things to ask...

1 HOW LONG HAS THE PROP­ERTY BEEN ON THE MAR­KET?

“This should be one of your first ques­tions,” says Phil. “The av­er­age time it takes to sell a home in the UK is two to three months, ac­cord­ing to the Gov­ern­ment. So, if the prop­erty has been on the mar­ket for con­sid­er­ably longer, it may have an is­sue that is stop­ping it sell­ing, be­yond just be­ing priced too highly. But you’ll need to get your de­tec­tive hat on to find out what it is.

“One red flag to look out for would be if the cur­rent own­ers have lived there for an un­usu­ally short pe­riod of time. There is usu­ally a rea­son be­hind a seller try­ing to get shot of a prop­erty af­ter a short pe­riod. Push the agent or sell­ers for clues: Is there a nui­sance neigh­bour, what are crime lev­els like in the area, how busy are the roads and how much does the prop­erty cost to run (util­ity bills, coun­cil tax etc)?”

2 IS THE PROP­ERTY IN A CON­SER­VA­TION AREA?

“If you are drawn to the his­tory and charm of older homes, bear in mind that your y scope for mak­ing cha changes to such a prop­erty c could be se­verely lim­ited. “Spe­cific rules about what you can and can­not do to the p prop­erty will vary from lo lo­cal author­ity to lo­cal aut author­ity. Some may pro pro­hibit you from mak­ing changes to metal rail­ings, win­dows, trees and even the colour of the front door. So, if your heart is set on a house with his­tory but you’ve got an eye on mod­erni­sa­tion, make sure to ask about any­thing that might block your plans.”

3 IS THE PROP­ERTY A FREEHOLD OR A LEASEHOLD?

“There are pros and cons to both freehold and leasehold prop­er­ties. As a lease­holder, you will have to pay an­nual fees to the owner of the freehold, from ground rent to main­te­nance charges.

“These can fluc­tu­ate over time, so make sure that when you’re bud­get­ing you fac­tor in the pos­si­bil­ity that ground rent will in­crease or main­te­nance charges could spike if the build­ing needs ma­jor re­pairs.

“By con­trast, if you buy a freehold prop­erty there’s no ground rent to worry about, but you will be re­spon­si­ble for ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing the roof and the main­te­nance of the struc­ture. A de­tailed sur­vey will flag up any is­sues that need ur­gent or ex­pen­sive re­pair.”

4 ARE THERE ANY PEND­ING PLAN­NING AP­PLI­CA­TIONS THAT MIGHT IM­PACT ME?

“This is a quick bit of re­search you could carry out be­fore view­ing your prospec­tive home. Nearly all lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have a plan­ning por­tal on their web­site that al­lows you to view any pre­vi­ous or pend­ing plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions. If, for ex­am­ple, you were con­sid­er­ing buy­ing a home close to agri­cul­tural land, it might be a good idea to check whether the friendly farmer next door has just sub­mit­ted a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion for a new pig-rear­ing fa­cil­ity!”

5 HAS THE SELLER MADE ANY CHANGES TO THE PROP­ERTY?

“If changes have been made re­cently – es­pe­cially struc­tural ones – you need to know so you can ask the seller for any rel­e­vant doc­u­ments, re­ceipts or guar­an­tee cer­tifi­cates.

“Equally if the seller has spent money do­ing the place up, they will have raised the ask­ing price ac­cord­ingly – so you need to make a judge­ment on whether the premium is jus­ti­fied. Al­ways ask a seller, which can prove re­veal­ing is, ‘If you were stay­ing, what other im­prove­ments would you make?”’

Prop­erty guruPhil Spencer

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.