What to look for when buying a property

Follow the tips below to help decide if a property is a good investment or not

Buying a property
Buying a property

Purchasing a home is one of the most important financial investments you will make, so it is essential you inspect any potential properties thoroughly to ensure you are choosing a sound investment.

It is important to be confident that the home you are looking at is structurally sound and there are things you can look for before you make the decision to purchase it.

Once you have made an offer and it has been accepted, you can arrange for a survey to be done but this is not cheap and may be unnecessary if you can identify any potential defects or problems before this stage.

You do not have to a be a trained surveyor to spot some of the obvious problems with a house, you just need to use your common sense.

Follow the tips below to help decide if a property is a good investment or not.

Inside the property

Look out for the following when you're inside the property:

  • Does the property need updating -  if so, how much will this cost?
  • Are the rooms big enough for your needs and will all of your furniture fit? Is there enough storage space for your belongings?
  • Does it feel like it could be your home, if not then it clearly isnt the right property for you?
  • Go fault spotting and if buying alone get a friend or family member to come along with you and give their honest opinion.
  • Does the house smell damp or are there signs of dampness such as stained ceilings and walls, mould, bubbling, flaky or stained paint, wallpaper peeling off, bulges in the walls and rotting skirting boards? Do the walls feel damp?
  • Look for damp or condensation around the windows, if there is mould round the putty this isnt too much of a problem as it can be killed and removed.
  • Check behind furniture as vendors may be using large pieces of furniture to hide cracks, damp or mould.
  • Look up at the ceilings for staining, slow drips or leaks.
  • Open doors and windows to make sure they work.
  • Test the floors by jumping up and down to see if the floorboards feel springy or squeak. Does the floor feel like it is sloping?
  • Check for cracks in the walls and windows, or doors that dont close properly, as this may be an indication of problems with the piles or settling.
  • Do the window frames have cracking paint? If you can press your finger easily into the wood it is rotten and needs to be replaced.
  • Check the power works by turning all lights off and on, especially those with older switches. Also check how many power points there are in each room, and their location as well as testing plug sockets too.
  • Check how old the wiring is, as rewiring a property can be very expensive.
  • In the kitchen and bathrooms, check for broken tiles, damp around sinks and showers, mould and missing sealant.
  • Check that built-in appliances, for example, the dishwasher and stove, are working.
  • Inspect the plumbing by flushing all toilets and checking taps turn off. Check that the sink doesnt leak and the shower has good pressure and gets hot.
  • Ask the vendor how is the water heated - is there a combination boiler or tank and how old are they? Also, ask if the boiler has recently been serviced and is it done regularly?
  • Ask the seller to turn on the central heating and check the radiators for leaks and rust. Make sure they all get hot right across the surface.
  • Check the door locks to ensure they work properly and are up to insurance standards. - and provide proper security
  • Go up into the loft to check for rot and to see if there are any holes in the roof. Also check the loft is insulated properly.
  • Ask the seller if there is insulation in the walls and ceiling.
  • Look for signs of subsidence, like major cracks in the walls or the doors sticking.
  • Look for damaged paintwork, rotten wood, rust, holes, cracks and crumbling mortar.
  • Whilst walking around a property look for appliances that are not vented outdoors, for example a cooker range hood, tumble dryer or bathroom fan as these can cause mould and moisture problems.
  • Check if any walls have been knocked out or has any major work been done to the structure of the house? If so, did the vendor have permission to carry out these renovations?

Outside the property

Look at the roof and check for missing or broken tiles and examine the general condition of the cladding, drainpipes and gutter.

Check outside for wall cracks, mould and rotten woodwork, as these can all cause major problems.

Inspect exterior walls to make sure they are straight and not bowed out or wavy.

Check the foundation walls from what you can view and make sure there are no major cracks.

Make sure the driveway has been built to direct water away from the house or garage and drain away from the buildings. If the property is built on a slope it can result in the property suffering from temporary flooding during heavy rain.

Check fences, paving and driveways to see if they are in a decent condition. Large trees can be a problem sending roots under the house and into drains.

Look over the boundary fences for any potential issues with neighbours, such as overhanging trees, car wrecking, or noisy dogs.

Consider the position of the street lighting as while it provides illumination to the front of your property at night, some people might find the glare of the light even through curtains, difficult to live with.

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