Top 5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a Property

14 March 2017

Buying a house is exciting. However, with this excitement can often come stress – after all, there are a lot of vital considerations to be made.  If you’re just starting out on the property ladder, there’s even more to get your head around. At Gepp & Sons, we do all we can to help things run smoothly, so for this week’s blog we’re talking you through some of the common pitfalls buyers fall into, and top tips for making sure your move is as stress-fee as possible.

1. Letting your emotions get the better of you

Looking for your next home is a time full of possibilities and hopes for the future, so it’s common for people to sketch out an image in their minds of what their dream life will look like. While it’s great to have an idea in your head, it’s also sensible to keep a very open mind when you’re looking for a house. It’s not always possible to find a home that checks every single box, so bear in mind that you will need to be adaptive.

On the other hand, falling in love with a property at first sight can lead people to overlook the details and overpay, or land in trouble later on. Don’t let yourself rush into things – you may yet find something that is an even better fit for you than what you originally had in mind. The more open to alternative options you are, the better the result you could end up with.

2. Beware of the Lease

If you’re buying part of a building such as a flat, it’s likely to be leasehold, meaning you will only own the property for a certain number of years. Leases of 80 years or less are considered short, so it is advisable to get the lease extended before you buy a property of this type. If the lease is short, you may find it difficult to get a mortgage or to sell the property on later. Owning a leasehold property can also entail financial responsibilities such as paying ground rent or service charges, so make sure you are clear on all the terms of the lease, and take advice if you are not sure.

3. Not getting the property checked out thoroughly

Be careful not to mistake the property report or mortgage valuation as a survey. To ensure the property you’re buying is everything you are expecting, it’s important to hire a Chartered Surveyor to carry out a survey of the building prior to everything being made final. This will uncover any quirks or problems with the property that may need attention, and give you assurance that there are no nasty surprises in store. It’s not a good idea to simply rely on the valuation commissioned by your mortgage lender as this generally goes by little more than the location of the property and the type of building.

It’s also essential to research the local area. Spend some time investigating whether there are any upcoming developments in the area, or if any of the residents nearby have secured permission for anything you might be concerned about.

4. Getting caught out by costs

If you’ve done it before, you’ll know how many extra costs there are involved in purchasing a property, and they do rack up. If you’re buying for the first time it’s very important to work out all the costs in advance and ensure they are accounted for in your budget in order to avoid any financial stress later on. The most significant costs associated with buying a property include:

  • SDLT (a.k.a Stamp Duty)
  • The valuation fee charged by your lender
  • Other mortgage fees (e.g. if you are using a financial advisor)
  • Solicitor’s fees
  • Surveyor’s fee (and costs for any problems that subsequently need to be addressed)

Remember, on top of your mortgage payments you will also need to factor in the cost of general maintenance and repairs to your property – particularly if you are buying an older building.

5. Choose a good Solicitor

Your solicitor will be a key part of the conveyancing process, so it’s crucial to instruct a solicitor who is experienced, supportive and communicative. Beware of the very cheapest conveyancing deals from so-called ‘conveyancing warehouses’ – the very low advertised rates can often result in poor service, hidden costs and a whole lot more stress through the process.

At Gepp & Sons, our experienced residential conveyancing solicitors have been helping clients in Essex to move house without the fuss for many years. We’re clear on our costs throughout, and provide practical, helpful advice in plain English. That’s why our clients come back to us year after year.

Looking for a conveyancing solicitor, or just have questions about the process and need to talk through your options? You can get in touch with us via our website or give our team a call on 01245 343980 who will be happy to give you all the help you need.