It's one of life's biggest milestones, but without the right help and advice, home buying can be something of a minefield. While you will have mortgage advisors and solicitors helping with the legal side of things, we are on hand to tell you the things you should be asking when you view houses.
Why is the house for sale, is it in good structural condition and what extra costs does it incur? These are all valid questions that you will need to ask the current owner, so never feel as though you are being too personal or nosey! If you are walking around what could potentially be your first or forever home, start talking and demand the answers you want!
We have listed what we think are seven of the most pertinent questions to ask, so commit them to memory and happy home shopping!
Gut instinct might not be an exact science but there's a lot to be said for it. If you walk into a house that simply doesn't feel right, even though you can't put your finger on what the problem is, we don't think you should try to talk yourself out of it or you may end up in a home buying nightmare!
While some houses can look utterly astounding, such as this one from Studio MK27, not all of them will make you feel at home, comfortable or relaxed, so keep looking until you find the perfect combination for you and remember that aesthetics are not always the only thing that will attract you to a potential new home. The feeling you get when you walk in is vital!
Don't ever be embarrassed to ask why a house is for sale. There could be a myriad of personal reasons, but if there has been a neighbour dispute or if the location is too noisy, you need to know about these things first! In fact, we never think it is a bad idea to pop in and speak to a neighbour, just to see what they think of the area and the house.
Getting an unbiased assessment of the location and house is a great idea, as sellers and estate agents will be trying to make a sale and might sugar-coat the truth in a bid to make home buying your main priority. Not that we are pessimists!
While asking the current owner of a house what the structural condition is like is a wise move, never forget that you will need to have a building survey completed too. This is a legal requirement if you need to take out a mortgage in the UK for home buying.
Many surveys only look at the external structure, so if you are serious about a particular property, we recommend that you gain permission to have your surveyor enter the house to complete a very detailed inspection. One man's 'perfect condition' could be a surveyor's 'about to fall down', after all!
A seriously hot topic these days, the energy efficiency of your home, or lack thereof, could result in enormous heating bills which you won't have taken into account when looking at your budget. Take a look at the heating system and ask when it was last serviced, assess what material the windows and doors are made from and ask the estate agent for a copy of the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate).
While you may have fallen in love with a property, if you won't be able to afford the running and heating costs, it simply isn't a viable purchase. You don't want to be huddled up in the kitchen all through winter as a result of hasty home buying, do you?
Try to overlook the decor that is already in place in any of the houses that you visit, as that can be changed at your leisure. What you really need to be looking at is the room sizes and shapes. We think it's a good idea to have a list of what you absolutely need, such as a large living room, a small office etc and from there, you can tick off every necessity as you see it during a house viewing.
We cannot stress enough how important it is for you to have the space you need right from the start, as there will be no guarantee of planning permission being granted for an extension at a later date and you'll kick yourself for being hasty and wish you'd taken your time when home buying.
Do you know what costs you will incur should you decide to put an offer in on a house? It's not as simple as buying it and moving in, so think things through! A survey will usually cost between £300 and £500, your conveyancing solicitor could come to around £1,500 (though try to get a fixed rate deal!), you will need life insurance in place to have a mortgage and then there is the mortgage itself, a deposit and stamp duty.
Suddenly, that reasonably priced house is turning into an enormous financial burden, but if you are sure it is 'the one', then press ahead and don't let anyone else snap it up! Home buying is a competitive business!
So you've made the decision to buy a house that you've fallen in love with. Hooray and congratulations! Now have a little think about the extra financial responsibilities that particular property will lay at your feet. If there is a pool, it will need to be cleaned and maintained. Oil-fired heating systems require regular maintenance too and if you have any shared areas with other houses, you will be expected to chip in for expenses.
We promise we aren't trying to put you off buying a house, but if you go into it with all this information to hand, you won't have any nasty surprises and will be happier in the long run!
For more house-buying inspiration, take a look at this Ideabook: Buying vs Building: A Comprehensive Guide. You never know, you might like the idea of a self-build project more!