Buying a House

10 Costly Mistakes First-Time Buyers Make

For first-time buyers, viewing a potential new home can be an exciting time. However, it’s important to view each property with a critical eye to avoid making costly mistakes. Here are our 10 costly mistakes first time buyers make when viewing a house and how to avoid them. 1. Not Knowing What to Look For […]

For first-time buyers, viewing a potential new home can be an exciting time. However, it’s important to view each property with a critical eye to avoid making costly mistakes. Here are our 10 costly mistakes first time buyers make when viewing a house and how to avoid them.

1. Not Knowing What to Look For

One of the biggest mistakes first-time buyers make is not doing a thorough inspection of the property. This includes checking for signs of wear and tear, such as cracks in the walls or foundation, as well as checking the plumbing and electrical systems. We would advise doing the following checks as a minimum to avoid any costly surprises:

  • Damp – look for peeling wallpaper, moist walls, mould on walls and ceilings, and skirting boards (an indication of rising dampness).
  • Roof – look for cracked tiles, loose tiles, damaged mortar, and even if the roof slopes as this can indicate a problem with the joists. Use your phone to zoom in!
  • Guttering – look for any cracks, breaks, or damage and if it’s raining, check it is holding water and not overflowing (although this can indicate something minor such as blockage, it can cause issues if water tracks into the house)
  • Heating system – Work to replace gas central heating can be quite invasive when pipework needs replacing and boilers alone can cost upwards of £2000. Always ask about the age of the central heating system and any service history for the boiler.
  • Electrical system – This can also be invasive work if a property needs a rewire. Check the age of the consumer unit, which can be around £300-500 to replace, and check when the last rear was completed and if there has been any additional work done to the electrics as the seller will need certification for some types of work, such as circuit board replacement.
  • Structure – Don’t worry, subsidence is not a common issue in most properties, however, it is a costly issue to fix. Look for sloping floors and diagonal cracks in the walls that are both outside and inside.
  • Window and door locks – If these are broken, not only can they be expensive to replace, but they can be a security risk when you move in. Remember, if you get a survey on the property and the surveyor cannot get access, they won’t inspect that area so always do your own checks.
  • Window condition – you can do an easy check or condensation by wiping the window pane. If the moisture does not wipe away, it is likely that the seal is broken and the pane at least will need replacing.

2. Not Doing Enough Research

It is so easy these days to jump online and find information on a property or area, so you can see how much growth there has been over time. Rightmove has a list of sold prices that can be accessed from the listing and websites such as Zoopla even uses data to predict current prices for properties. You can also research the Local Authority Development plans, which can give an indication of future growth. Not only can research guide you on how much to offer on a property, but it can also help you to avoid losing money further down the line by choosing an area that may fair worse should prices fall.

3. Not Considering The Neighborhood

When you fall in love with a home, you can forget to consider the neighborhood. However, it is vital to research the area, including the local schools, crime rate, and proximity to amenities like shops and restaurants. Also, visit the area at different times of the day to assess noise and traffic.

4. Not Imagining Yourself In The Space

It is so easy to get carried away when we look at the aesthetics of a room, but overlooking the lack of space can be one of the most costly mistakes viewers can make. It is vital that the rooms will fit your own furniture, as you don’t want to have to fork out for a new sofa on day 1!

It is also worth checking that there is space to change the layout or add room if need be. For example, a house that has a loft space that can be converted could be turned from a starter home into a family home and save you thousands of pounds on having to move. Imagine yourself living in the space. It’s important to consider factors like the layout, room sizes, and storage space to ensure the home is a good fit for your lifestyle.

5. Being Swayed By Staging

Staging is designed can help make a home more attractive, but as a buyer, it is important to not let it cloud your judgment. A brand new kitchen may look amazing but look at the practical elements such as the number of cupboards. It’s important to look beyond the decor and furnishings to ensure the home meets its practical needs.

6. Not Investigating Issues

If you spot something that could indicate an issue or it is picked up on a survey, such as mould on walls and ceilings or a damaged roof, it is always beneficial to get a specialist to assess the problem. Seeking advice from a professional may cost you a little extra at the time, but it could save you a lot of money in the long run. A professional opinion can also make it easier for you to negotiate with the seller on the price of the property if any issues are uncovered.

7. Not Asking Enough Questions

Buyers may not ask enough questions during the viewing process, such as the age of the boiler, how long the property has been on the market, or if there are regulations for any recent renovations. It’s important to get as much information as possible to make an informed decision. Check out our questions to ask on a viewing blog for more detail on this.

8. Not Checking The Natural Lighting

Not only can natural lighting can have a big impact on the look and feel of a home, but natural light coming in through doors and windows can actually help to heat a home. Also, take a look at the garden faces as South facing gardens will receive more sun than a North facing garden.

9. Not Considering All Costs

Not only should you think about your deposit, but also additional costs, such as valuation fees, mortgage fees, surveys, stamp duty (5% over £425k), and removal costs. Also don’t overlook any minor renovation costs such as updating outdated fixtures or replacing worn carpets. It’s important to factor in these costs when considering the overall budget for the home.

10. Not Being Ready To Take Action

Finally, first-time buyers often start to view but aren’t ready to secure a property. Always head to a viewing with your mortgage decision in principle in place and having done your research, so you are in a position to put in an offer quickly if need be.

Also, take a trip to the property on another day before the viewing as this can save time on the day by allowing you to assess the outside of the property and local area. Not being ready to take action and taking too long to make a decision could cost you the property itself, with another buyer getting in there first.

Viewing a potential new home can be an exciting but nerve-wracking experience for first-time buyers. By avoiding these 10 costly mistakes, you can make a more informed decision and find yourself a home that doesn’t bring with it any costly surprises. For further information on the entire process, read our step by step guide to buying a house.



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