It pays to do your homework when buying a house

Whether you are a first time buyer, dipping your toes in the investment market or an experienced landlord, it pays to do your homework when purchasing a property.
Despite the wider economic conditions, bricks and mortar remain a great investment. In the Midlands there are plenty of new builds springing up which have the bonus of having energy efficiency built in, and there are some good mortgage deals available.
And as the market is still buoyant, with demand outstripping supply, it’s the perfect time to sell.
However, if you have seen a property you like and are interested in putting an offer, before you rush in to seal the deal, we recommend getting a check list together of things to do and not do to minimise any problems further down the line.
Firstly, always go back to a property for a second or even a third viewing, and if you can, take someone with you. This is the time to think with your head not your heart and examine the interior and exterior from top to toe.
Check inside for signs of woodworm, damp, peeling paint or wallpaper, dodgy plug sockets, dripping taps, wood rot (for example window frames) and condensation. Look for cracks inside and out and take any pictures.
Outside, check to see there are no invasive weeds or plants such as Japanese Knotweed and look at the brickwork, roof and any chimney stacks. Is there any repointing that needs doing? What about the guttering? Is the roof in good repair? Are there any signs of damp and is the damp proof course in good condition? What about subsidence? Are the perimeter fences or walls in good condition? Is there back access? Go over every square inch to satisfy yourself there are no hidden surprises and make a list of any work that will need to be done, as well as work you’d like to do anyway.
As well as a forensic examination on site, it’s essential to turn detective with some background checks as well.
This should include looking at ordinance survey maps for flood risk, local authority planning documents to see if there are proposals pending or confirmed to build next to or within striking distance of the property, find out about the crime levels in the area, whether there are any neighbourhood watch schemes or if there are any plans to build major road or rail schemes in the vicinity.
It’s also worth spending some time analysing the street and area in which the property sits. Go at different times of the day so you can see what the traffic is like, whether there are parking pressures, how busy the street gets and what the atmosphere is like after dark.
What are the neighbours like? Have a chat with them to see what they think of the area, whether they have any concerns and see what they are like as people. If they have dogs or children, it may be quite noisy so if you like peace and quiet, it is better to be forewarned and forearmed.
Also find out if any of the neighbours are planning to extend their own homes and if so what are they going to do?
Finally, invest in the best Home Buyer report you can afford and once it comes back, read it thoroughly from cover to cover. There may be issues in there that need resolving before the transaction can be completed. Some can be overcome quite quickly but always seek advice.
Sheldon Bosley Knight’s head of residential sales James Morton said: “We at Sheldon Bosley Knight have weathered many economic storms and are well versed in advising clients whatever the market conditions.
“We have the expertise and experience, not to mention the local knowledge, to help at all stages of the process but one of the things we always advise buyers is to be prepared and do your homework.
“Adopting a checklist, putting in the time and effort now and utilising the help and support we offer, will minimise any potential problems further down the line.”