Smelly, noisy and just too far: it’s the home you’ve al­ways longed for…

That house you want to buy seems too good to be true, but is it right for you? Prop­erty pro­fes­sion­als tell Anna Tyzack our big­gest mis­takes

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - TRADINGPLA­CES -

For­mal be­fore friendly

Main­tain a pro­fes­sional work­ing re­la­tion­ship with your builder. “Peo­ple shy away from hav­ing a for­mal agree­ment, hop­ing that a ‘matey’ ap­proach will work bet­ter,” says Tele­graph colum­nist Ali­son Cork. “Re­mem­ber what Sa­muel Gold­wyn said – ‘a ver­bal agree­ment isn’t worth the pa­per it’s writ­ten on’.”

Lawyers or asses?

Your trusted fam­ily lawyer could wreak havoc on a prop­erty trans­ac­tion. “If you’re buy­ing in Lon­don, your fam­ily lawyer might not be fa­mil­iar with Lon­don leases, or in­deed the speed with which trans­ac­tions have to take place,” says Nathalie Hirst, of Prime Pur­chase. “It is worth spending a few hun­dred pounds more to get the best le­gal ad­vice.”

Site un­seen

Shop around. “We once met a client who had bought a prop­erty — not through us — and the sur­veyor didn’t no­tice that the Tube ran un­der the gar­den – caus­ing it to shake,” says Hirst. “They sued the sur­veyor.”

Looks that de­ceive…

When view­ing a prop­erty it is easy to be se­duced by the seem­ingly per­fect life­style of the cur­rent own­ers. But re­mem­ber, their beau­ti­ful, well­be­haved chil­dren or Louis XIV side­board are not part of the trans­ac­tion.

…and gad­gets that give out

Men love gim­micks – and women can fall for them too. “A medi­ocre prop­erty does not be­come a good one sim­ply be­cause it has the lat­est steam oven,” says Hirst. “Gad­gets break down and be­come outdated very quickly.”

Wa­ter on the brain

Don’t judge a house by its swim­ming pool. Out­door pools can be en­joyed for only a few months each year – and com­pared to the price of a prop­erty are not ex­cep­tion­ally ex­pen­sive to in­stall any­way. In­door pools “are usu­ally not big enough to swim in, but big enough to drown in”, says Hirst. A badly main­tained pool can be a turn-off – tubs of murky wa­ter do not en­hance a prop­erty.

Vin­tage whine

Try not to fall in love with a sink­ing ship. Old houses cost more to run and im­prove than new ones.

Op­tions open

Lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion is a well­worked phrase for good rea­son. But don’t get too fo­cused on hav­ing a cer­tain ad­dress — there may be a bet­ter prop­erty two streets away.

Too close for com­fort

Fash­ion­able de­sign is all very well – but could you live with it? “There is a trend to have an open-plan bed­room/bath­room with no sep­a­rate loo,” says Hirst. “There are vary­ing de­grees of in­ti­macy – but surely not to the level where a loo can be ex­posed to the bed­room?”

Gar­den party

A path is more than just a dot­ted line across a map – it could leave your fam­ily ex­posed to the gaze of walk­ers. “A col­league was looking at a house for a client near Hen­ley and the own­ers said the foot­path across the land was only lightly used,” says Justin Mark­ing of Prime Pur­chase. “But he went back on a Satur­day and it was like Pic­cadilly Cir­cus.”

Com­mon law

When buy­ing near a moor or com­mon, make sure you are au fait with the law. “Al­though solic­i­tors will find out if there is a right of way through your land, I would ad­vise re­search­ing the Coun­try­side and Rights of Way (CROW) Act be­fore you in­struct a so­lic­i­tor,” says Philip Sel­way, of The Buy­ing So­lu­tion.

Clear as day­light

Peo­ple of­ten view a prop­erty in day­light but don’t for­get to re­turn at night – you might find a Ve­gas-style light show next door.

Does it make good scents?

Buy­ing a for­mer farm­house next to a work­ing farm is all very well – un­til the flies ar­rive in sum­mer, and the com­bine har­vester keeps you awake at night. Ask the neigh­bours if the farm is smelly and noisy.

Down (and up) on the farm

Watch out for the Gen­eral Per­mit­ted De­vel­op­ment Or­der (GPDO), which al­lows farm­ers the right to use their land for up to 28 days a year for any pur­pose, without the need for plan­ning per­mis­sion. “I was re­cently re­search­ing a coun­try house for a client looking for peace and quiet, and found out that the farmer was propos­ing to run mo­tocross cham­pi­onships across his land,” says Sel­way.

Fly­ing high (and low)

A pri­vate air­field may seem in­nocu­ous but it de­pends on its dis­tance from the house. Take-off and land­ing noise can be hugely dis­turb­ing so check it out – even if it means camp­ing nearby for a night.

Grow­ing pains

Don’t be fooled into think­ing it is easy to get plan­ning per­mis­sion for an ex­ten­sion or im­prove­ment. Con­sult the lo­cal plan­ning of­fice to as­sess the like­li­hood of get­ting per­mis­sion for the work you want to do.

How far is too far?

Don’t fall in love with a prop­erty that is too far from your desk. “Peo­ple of­ten have un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions of how far and how long a jour­ney they are will­ing to com­mute each day,” says Katy Fagg, from Strutt & Parker Pri­vate Search. “Once you have added driv­ing to and from the sta­tion, an hour’s com­mute can eas­ily be­come two hours.”

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