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Choosing Your Home

Looking for a brand new home is a time-consuming procedure to the point where you’ll be tempted to buy the first one you like. Just remember that you can’t take back the house if you realize that you don’t like it after you have moved in. You must think hard about what you want your new home to be and what your needs are. We have put together a list of important things you should consider when choosing your new home.

Choosing the Neighbourhood

The location

It is essential to research a specific area before going house-hunting. If you realize that it is not the kind of neighbourhood you would want to live in, then you could really save yourself a lot of time and effort. Always remember that it is easier to make house changes, but not to the neighbourhood.

As yourself these questions:

  • What kind of amenities are there? Check out the transport, activities for kids, leisure facilities, shops and so on.
  • What is the neighbourhood like? Will you be comfortable in living there?
  • What is the level of crime in the neighbourhood? Check crime reports in the local newspaper or crime statistics online, such as those supplied by the Home Office.
  • If you have children, look at the local schools. Do they have a good reputation?
  • What council tax band will you be in?
  • How easy is it to reach your workplace?
  • Will you have enough car parking space?
  • What kind of condition are the other houses in your street in? If they are in a poor condition, or look as if they would be falling into pieces, it could really bring down the value of the property.

Touring the area can give you a good idea of what it is like. There are a lot of sites on the internet where you can search different areas. Key signs of a redeveloped area include an abundance of trendy home design and café shops.

Decide what you want

  • Do you want to buy an older house or a new one? Old houses can look lovely but they tend to cost a lot in terms of heating bills and maintenance. Newly-built homes can also have some downsides, but advantages include less decoration costs and maintenance. Just remember that newly built homes can be poorly done too, so you should consider a well-thorough survey.
  • Do you want a semi-detached, terraced, detached house, or a flat? If you want a flat, do you want a custom-made one or a conversion? All have their advantages and disadvantages like consider noise, space, parking, and also privacy.
  • How much improvement or decorating do you wish to make to the property?

Viewing The Property

Once you find the house that you want to purchase, make sure you learn as much as possible about it. Make at least two visits. Visit the house in daylight and at night so you would be able to make a general idea of how it would be like to live there.

Over-all Condition

  • Consider the layout of the house. Are there any strange shaped rooms that will be difficult to fit appliances or furniture into?
  • Check what fixtures will be left by the previous owner
  • Try to imagine the house with your own style and choice of furniture

State of Repair

  • Central Heating: is the central heating system efficient? Is it gas or electricity-powered? How old is it?
  • Insulation: is the roof well-insulated? Go into the loft and turn off the light – you shouldn’t be able to see any patches of day-light. Is there wall-cavity insulation?
  • Plug sockets: How old are they? Are they old-fashioned or round-pin type? Re-wiring would probably be required if this is the case
  • Plumbing: Are the boiler and pipes lagged? How old is the piping?

Structural Problems (Inside)

  • Look for cracks in walls and ceilings, as well as for doors that don’t hang correctly
  • Search for walls which are damp to the touch and for flaking wallpapers or paintworks for these are signs of molds and damp.
  • Rotting window frames can be a sign as well. If they are really soft to the touch, this means they need to be replaced. Make sure the kitchen and bathrooms are well ventilated too.

Structural Problems (Outside)

  • Look for bent chimney stack, any big cracks on the walls or an uneven roofline
  • Inspect for missing roof tiles and check the brickwork as cracks can let in damp
  • Are there any big trees nearby? This could potentially cause problems

Leasehold Or Freehold

The properties in Wales and England could either be leasehold or freehold.


This means that you completely own the property. As a freeholder, you have the full responsibility for the needed repairs and maintenance of your property.


This means that you own the property only for a period of time (as is specified in the lease). At the end of the lease period, the freeholder will then become the owner of the property again. Various leases were initially granted for up to 999 years, but current leases on properties became shorter. Majority of leasehold properties are flats.

The lease specifies who is accountable for repairing and maintaining the property. You must also pay a ground rent to the freeholder, it is usually a small sum paid annually. Your solicitor should ensure that the seller is up-to-date with the ground rent payments before you sign the contract.

Do not buy a property with less than 60 years of lease; mortgage lenders are very unlikely to lend you for a property lease as a short as this. As a leaseholder, you have the right to lengthen the lease for over 90 years, and even buy the freehold if certain criteria are met, though the process can be quite expensive and very time consuming.

Unregistered Or Registered Property

In England and Wales, properties can either be ‘unregistered’ or ‘registered’.

If the property is unregistered, the ownership is not guaranteed by the state. The title can only be verified by a copy of the title deeds, and your legal representative should validate the property’s documentation for at least 15 years to confirm it. With this kind of property, disagreements over title are not unusual.

When you buy an unregistered property, it must now be listed in the Land Registry for the first time. This could take some time, so the buying process could take longer.

If the property is registered, the title to the property is recorded at the Land Registry and is guaranteed by the state. The owner has a ‘Land Certificate’ instead of the standard title deeds. Buying registered property is more direct and hassle-free than buying an unregistered one.

Purchasing At Auction

Buying a house at an auction can sometimes be cheaper than other usual methods. The sorts of properties that are available at auction include those that have been reclaimed, are in need of some revamp or left vacant due to the death of the previous owner. They are likely to require a lot of renovation work, but the low sale price could mean that deciding to buy at an auction is more economical in the long run.

There should be a sales pack complete of information about the specific property, which you will need to submit to your solicitor a few weeks before the auction. This can be a little pricey as the solicitor will want to ensure that the property has no major legal deficiencies before you start bidding, and there is no guarantee that you will secure the winning bid.

Aside from the low cost, another benefit of obtaining a home at an auction is the transparency of the procedure. Other bids are public at an auction, so you don’t wind up bidding more than what is necessary.

It is also important to ensure that you will certainly get the lending necessary from your mortgage company, so make sure that your mortgage company and your solicitor are cooperating to each other before you go along the actual auction.

At the end of the auction, you will be expected to deliver a 10% deposit fee with a usual closing date of 28 days (although you may possibly make an arrangement with the auctioneer for a longer date). If you’re not able to pay the remaining sum in time for completion, you may lose your deposit.

Step By Step Guide When Buying At Auction

If you have already decided to buy an auctioned poperty, it is ideal to follow these following steps:

  • Be a part of the auctioneers’ posting lists. Auctioneers can be found through local business directories, and of course, through online searches. They would usually send out catalogues of the available properties, as well as floor plans and guide price. Auctioneers also promote in property websites and local newspapers.
  • Inspecting a property. Phone the auctioneers and organize a viewing schedule with them. Take thorough notes about the extent of the renovation needed, before you decide to bid. It is also ideal to deal with some local builders, in order to obtain estimates of the work involved.
  • Finding the required money. Due to the rapid buying process at an auction, it is essential to have not just enough, but a handsome amount, before the auction officially takes place. You should not bid if you have not yet established a mortgage offer. It is vital that you let the mortgage lender know you intend to buy at an auction.
  • Get a thorough survey. The mortgage lender will require a survey or valuation before the auction to confirm its guide price. It is wise to commission a thoroughly organized survey for properties that are in need of renovation work.
  • Refer with a solicitor before the auction. When buying at an auction, much of the conveyancing work takes place before the auction. This consists of checking if there would be any legal problems with planning applications and ownership in the area.
  • How much should you bid. It is vital to consider a number of other costs when determining how much to bid, including solicitors fees, building work, moving costs and the stamp duty. Occasionally, a bid can be accepted before an auction takes place. This could happen when a property is recorded on the auction but with a note saying “unless previously sold”.
  • Be prepared. Experts will recommend attending a few auctions as an observer before buying at an auction, as this will help you familiarize the bidding process. When you are confident enough to attend an auction on the purpose of making your bid, you will need to bring: two documents proving your identity, the house details, and a building society cheque or banker’s draft for 10% of your top price. The auction house would refund any difference if the property sells for a smaller amount.
  • The bidding process. You need to register upon arriving. Nearly all auctioneers hand you a specific number to hold when making a bid, but in other cases, holding up a catalogue or raising your hand can be acceptable. Bidding can also happen online, via telephone, and also by a representative. Bidding will begin below the guide price and progress in multiples of £5,000 or £1,000. A reserve price will be pre-determined, and if the property won’t be able to meet this required price it will not be sold. It is possible to directly contact the seller if this happens, to see if you can discuss a sale afterwards.
  • Making a successful bid. The highest bidder would be the one to acquire the property. You will then be required to hand over a proof of identity, the deposit, and your solicitor’s details. You will be given a legally binding contract, with the residual amount due to be paid within 28 days.

Downsides When Buying At Auction

  • Purchasing a reclaimed home can present some complications. The previous owner may have had a bad case of credits, which by mistake, could be listed on your records as you will be moving into the same address. It is advisable to check if there are any of these problems by contacting a credit referencing agency, so that such mistakes can then be fixed promptly.
  • Be cautious of malpractice by both auctioneer and the seller. Watch out for things such as ‘bidding against the wall’; it is where an auctioneer uses the commotion and confusion of a crowded auction room, to create an imaginary bidder so that the price would drastically increase.
  • Make sure that the major house repairs have planning approval. Many uncommon investment opportunities emerge at auctions, such as barn or church conversions. To avoid any frustration, it is wise to check the planning status of the properties listed and whether there is planning permission for deliberate changes. It is best to check with a planning consultant to see if your plans to make a dream home are likely to be permitted.

Table Of Contents

  1. Decide How Much You Can Afford
  2. Choosing Your Home
  3. Negotiating and Making an Offer
  4. Surveys And Valuation
  5. Conveyancing
  6. Insurance & Other Legal Matters
  7. Gazumping & Other Problems
  8. Making Complaints