Thinking about buying your first property and taking your first step on the property ladder? With thousands of homes on the market, finding your dream home comes with lots of important decisions and compromises, but there are a few essential factors you’ll want to check out before making that all important offer! Whether you’re browsing property portals in search of your perfect home or are looking to attend viewings for the first time – here’s what you should be checking for when buying your first property.
Your home is far more than just bricks and mortar – your neighbourhood significantly impacts your experience living in your first home. That’s why it’s so important to do your due diligence on the area surrounding the properties that interest you. Even if you don’t have, or plan on having children or pets, it is worth researching any local schools or parks to determine the reputation of your future neighbourhood. You should consider which amenities are close by that you will have to access on a daily basis such as GP surgeries and hospitals, veterinary practices, grocery shops and post offices. Checking local crime rates can also give you peace of mind and make sure you feel safe in your new community, as well as keeping your car and home insurance premiums to a minimum.
Unless you consistently rely on public transport, you should check that the properties you are viewing have the right parking facilities to suit your needs. For those with small cars, on-street parking may be suitable – however, for those with multiple vehicles, vans or family cars, it may be best to look for a home with a private garage or driveway. Similarly, you may wish to visit the properties you are interested in during peak commuting times to determine how severe the traffic and noise pollution will be on a daily basis. This is particularly important if you have pets or children who may be endangered by the presence of heavy traffic. If you regularly utilise public transport, ensure that you are within walking distance of the relevant services that take you to work or to see friends and family.
If you are looking to purchase a property with a garden – or indeed any outdoor space such as a balcony – you should assess whether the space will suit your needs. Are the features of the garden easy to maintain, or will you require specialist equipment? Is the area safe and confined for children and pets to play in? Are the boundaries between your land and the next clearly defined and in good condition to avoid possible disputes in the future?
With today’s growing hybrid working culture, many home movers are non-negotiable on having a reliable broadband connection to enable them to effectively work from home. So, before you commit yourself to a property purchase, be sure to ask the current occupier or seller about the available broadband services you can access from the property. Alternatively, find out about the broadband service in your area and which companies can provide you with a broadband deal by visiting Ofcom’s Broadband Availability checker.
Damp and mould can be indicative of more significant issues across the property, such as weak insulation, draughts and leaks which could be expensive to repair. Furthermore, signs of damp and mould could be costly and time-consuming for you to remedy, and you may have to replace certain pieces of furniture or even redecorate entire rooms to get your property back up to scratch.
When carrying out a property viewing, be sure to keep a close eye out for signs of weak structural integrity, or more severe issues with the construction of the property. This may constitute cracks in the walls of the property that are wider than the edge of a 10p coin, significant and ongoing leaks, and roof damage.
A structural survey will be able to reveal any large-scale issues with the property in question – if you have any doubts, contact the selling agent to request any details or documentation they may have on hand, such as the last building survey report.
It is vital that you read a property’s Energy Performance Certificate before you commit to purchasing it, especially during the current cost of living crisis which is seeing gas and electricity prices skyrocket. An EPC will provide you with an insight into how energy efficient the property is and can pinpoint specific aspects of the property that require improvement, as well as estimating the best possible EPC rating that the property could obtain should you carry out the works recommended. If you are willing to spend money retrofitting your first home with energy efficient appliances and undertaking extensive work, the EPC will be able to provide you with projections as to how expensive these works could be, and how much money you could save in the long run, allowing you to make a more informed decision as to whether you wish to move forward with the property.
You can view a property’s EPC before you schedule a viewing by requesting details from the selling agent, or by searching on the EPC register.
Buying your first property is likely the largest investment you will have made in your life thus far. That’s why it is so important to look at your future property not just as a place to call home, but as an asset that will accrue value over time. If you are looking at a resale unit, be sure to look at past selling prices to determine whether it has increased in value over time in line with the rest of the property market. It is also worth exploring local projects or regeneration schemes that could add value to your property in the future, such as new infrastructure, travel amenities, schools, shops and business hubs.
If you are looking for a property that grows with you as your needs evolve, it is worth checking whether you are able to extend or amend your home in the future. The majority of property extensions require planning permission from the local authorities, and although you won’t receive definitive approval for planning permission until your application has been processed, you can still determine the likelihood of a successful application. Consult the sellers of your property to see if they have acquired planning permission in the past, ask neighbours if they have obtained planning permission, and read the technical guidance on ‘Permitted Development Rights For Householders’. This will help you to understand the likelihood of being able to successfully extend your property in the future.
Beyond paying off your mortgage, energy bills, and water bills, you will have to account for Council Tax payments at your new property. Each property sits within a Council Tax ‘band’ which determines how much you will need to pay each year – be sure to check which band your future property falls into so that you can assess whether this is affordable for you. You can check which Council Tax band your property belongs to by utilising the gov.uk Council Tax Checker. Additionally, if you are renting a leasehold property, you will also have to pay a service charge and ground rent, which can often amount to thousands of pounds per year.
Make buying your first property a breeze with the At Home With Centrick hub! With new blogs every week covering energy saving tips, advice on boosting property value and handy DIY tips, we have everything you need to make your first home move a success.
Still unsure about taking the leap towards home ownership? Contact the Centrick team using the form below and we’ll be in contact!
November is coming to an end – Christmas lies on the horizon, and New Year’s Day is...
This morning, King Charles made his first speech to open Parliament, outlining the key pieces of reform...
Residential property investment expert Centrick Invest has expanded with the appointment of a new team operating in...
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.
Keeping these cookies enabled helps us to improve our website.
Please enable Strictly Necessary Cookies first so that we can save your preferences!