Buyers, take your time!

In interesting survey from mortgage lender First Direct has found that the typical home buyer spends just 30 minutes at a property before making a bid. Basic details are not checked like the service history of the boiler leading to additional costs once they have bought. The survey suggests that by failing to ask basic questions the typical home buyer spends an extra £7,500 on costs and repairs that could have been discovered before they had bought.

I went to Sky Sunrise and a dozen radio stations through the day to talk about the findings.

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Generously introduced on several occasions as “the UK’s leading independent property expert”, I explained that all most people needed to do was to take more time. Don’t rush, ask questions, check receipts for works carried out and ask to see any guarantees. The person showing you around is either the owner or his hired help. Here’s their 10 point checklist;-

  1.  Don’t be rushed into making an offer. Take your time to collect your thoughts and double-check any details you are given.
  2. Check interior and exterior walls for signs of redecoration that may be hiding something. If in doubt, get a surveyor or builder to check the property later.
  3. Visit the property at different times of the day to check if the road is a ‘rat run’ at school pick up times or in the rush hour.
  4. Check the condition of the roof – put your head into the attic, is it boarded or insulated. More than half of all homebuyers admitted they didn’t check the roof of the last property they bought. The British weather can cause havoc with a roof. The odd chipped or broken tile or loose flashing, may not be a big problem, but water getting inside the building could well be.
  5.  Inspect the electrical systems More than a third of homeowners wish they’d taken more no+ce of the electrical systems in their home before they bought it. Just four out of ten bothered to inspect sockets and switches, let alone the wiring and circuit breakers. If in doubt, ask an electrician to check for you.
  6.  Ask to see the boiler and its servicing history One in four homebuyers told first direct they regreSed not checking the condition of their property’s boiler and its servicing history. Given it can easily cost upwards of £2,000 to install a new system, it’s worth asking those questions.
  7.  Get quotes or detailed estimates for building work before you buy. Almost two thirds of homeowners told researchers they’d incurred additional costs after moving in, due to unexpected repairs, botched DIY jobs by the previous owners or renovation work being more expensive than they thought. So look for all those possible jobs and get builders to quote.
  8.  Find out what the broadband speed’s like. Ask if you can log onto the wi-fi and use a speed test app to check. Don’t assume that all urban areas have speedy and reliable internet access and some rural properties are in blackspots. Assuming you can’t live your life without the internet (who can?), find out what the typical speed is for the area and what type of broadband is installed. One in seven homeowners said they wish they’d checked before they bought. Ditto for mobile phone reception. You’d be surprised how many homes have poor coverage.
  9.  Take an independent person to a viewing If you’ve found your dream home, family and friends won’t want to burst your bubble by telling you the harsh truth. It doesn’t have to be a builder or architect – just someone who’ll point out the faults or ask the difficult questions.
  10.  Check the central heating system. If the property has central hea+ng, make sure the radiators work as they should. Even if it’s the height of summer, and the heating’s switched off, ask for it to be switched on so you can check. Almost half (49%) of homeowners admitted they didn’t do that the last time they bought a property.