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Six common mistakes people make when buying a house

View profile for Steven Neasham
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Buying a home is a Big Deal.  Getting onto the property ladder can be a life-affirming event and for even the most seasoned of property tycoons, investing in a new property is a momentous occasion. So exhilarating and nerve-wracking is the prospect, that it’s easy to get carried away with the excitement of it all and make some of these all too familiar mistakes.

1.    Failing to properly budget
If this isn’t your first property purchase, this might seem like an obvious thing to do. However, forgetting to plot your incomings against your outgoings can leave you spending beyond your means. If you’ve been renting chances are you haven’t had experience of the full costs of home ownership so it’s a good idea to work out what you can afford. One key thing to remember is to get the funds in place before you start shopping. Getting a mortgage Agreement in Principle will stand you in good stead when it comes to negotiating price and terms. 

2.    Forgetting to factor in moving costs
Once you’ve set your budget and worked out how much you can afford to spend on the new house, you need to start thinking about the ‘hidden’ costs of buying a new home which can quickly mount up. Research reliable removal firms and get quotes from at least three different companies to make sure you’re not paying over the odds for a less reputable firm. Other costs to consider include any admin fees for the transfer of the mortgage, energy, water and broadband from one property to another.

3.    Not getting a survey
The cardinal sin of property purchases. How many times have we seen the consequences of failing to instruct a surveyor to inspect the building on Homes Under the Hammer? The repairs can quickly mount up and could even delay your move into the new house, incurring even more costs in rent or hotel accommodation. Not getting a full survey, or at the very least, a Homebuyers Report is risky. They really do represent value for money and can save you thousands in future maintenance.

4.    Not using a specialist
When it comes to the legal aspects of the transaction, you need to choose a solicitor or licensed conveyancer carefully. Do not necessarily go for the best quote, using a cheaper or less specialised service could save you money, but in the long run, you may well end up out of pocket as things come to light that should have been identified during the searches an expert knows to carry out. Choosing a firm of solicitors which is a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme will guarantee that firm’s commitment and investment to ensure exceptional levels of client care, staff training and procedural standards are adhered to. The scheme is supported by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the Building Societies Association and the Association of British Insurers, and it’s worth bearing in mind that not all firms operate to the same high standards.  It is also a good idea to ask someone you trust to recommend a solicitor from their own experience.  However bear in mind that some firms pay fees to estate agents to refer customers to them, and they often cover this overhead in the fee they charge you or by compromising on service.  If you are following a recommendation from an estate agent, check that the solicitor is someone they know will provide a good service, and not just someone who pays for recommendations.

5.    Letting your heart rule your head
There’s no denying buying a house is an emotional purchase, but one that needs to be made with a clear head and well thought out requirements. Falling in love with the first house you see, buying too quickly or snapping up a cheap house because “it’s a good deal”, rather than the right property are all common mistakes that leave buyers doing it all again in a couple of years – including all the costs. Preparation is key: draw up your budget and a list of ‘must-haves’ and stick to it. If the right property doesn’t come along in the first two weeks, don’t get fed up and buy the next thing with two bedrooms and a garage – take time out and watch the market, or reassess your wish list – do you really need the swimming pool?

6.    Not doing your research
Another common mistake is settling on a property without researching the area. Make sure you check out the local schools, traffic levels, commute to work, the neighbourhood and facilities to be sure it suits your needs and lifestyle. Another oversight house buyers can suffer from is the failure to understand the different legal forms of property ownership, which all have implications on your rights and obligations. Speak with a solicitor who can advise you on the most appropriate type for you.

Steven Neasham is the Partner in charge of Bicester Residential Conveyancing.
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