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What to look out for when buying your first home

Buying your first home is an exciting prospect. However, there's more to home ownership than paint swatches and furniture shops.

When you buy a home, you aren't just buying the beautifully decorated interior, you are also buying into any of the pre-exiting and future problems. There's not much you can do about future issues and this is part of bitter sweet relationship that is property and owner. However, with a bit of education and knowing what you need to look out for you can at least identify a few of the issues ahead of the surveyor inspecting.

Here is a simple guide on what to look out for ahead of submitting an offer.

Tip #1 - Use your senses (not just your eyes)

It sounds so simple, but it is often neglected in the excitement of viewing a home for the first-time. Before you get carried away, try and prepare yourself to use all your senses. As you walk around the property, what can you smell, what can you hear, how does it feel, etc...? Does it smell musky? Can you hear the neighbours through the walls? Does it feel cold or draughty? These aren't always reasons not to buy somewhere, but they are things that you are likely to be living with and not all of the issues can be fixed through repair (you can't choose your neighbours.) At least if you've considered them, they won't come as a shock to you on day 1 when you've just moved in.

Tip #2 - Find the utilities

These potential money pits are easy to identify, if you look for them. The gas, electrical and other utility installations are quite often neglected even when other areas of a property have been modernised. Make sure you find out where the boiler is and when it was installed and take a look at the consumer unit to see if it is a modern type or if it is likely to need upgrading.

"We never realised we would have to spend £8,000 re-wiring the house when we bought it." – Comment from a purchaser

Tip #3 - The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire...

It's probably not actually on fire, but it will burn a hole in your pocket if you're not prepared for it. Due to it's height, access restriction, cost of materials, changes in building regulations and lack of professional roofers, buying a house with a roof that needs to be replaces is something you probably want to know about before you commit to the purchase. Unfortunately, roofs vary so greatly in design and materials and without access, the condition is something that you are unlikely to be fully aware of until after you've agreed to buy the place - just keep in the back of your mind (or wallet) that some cash may need to be spent on repairs.

Tip #4 - If you're not sure, ask!

If you're not sure on something, then ask the agent! They want to sell the house as much as you want to buy it. Any questions or concerns that you may have, you should raise with them. Want to know how long the owner has lived there, what the reason is the house is being sold, what works have been carried out recently? If you don't ask the question, you won't get the answer.

Tip #5 - After viewing research

You've seen the property, you've considered the above and you're ready to offer, but, before you do, you should always take the time to carry out a little extra research. It is amazing what you can find by simply searching for the property's address online.

Don't forget to use experienced professionals

Whether it's the surveying, legal paperwork or mortgage side of the process, working with the right people will not only save you a whole load of stress, the chances are, in the long run, it will also save you money. Always ask someone competent to provide you with information and advise on any concerns you may have.

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