Buying an old property
We all get excited about buying a new property, but how do you ensure that it is the right one for you? I’m a great fan of Kirsty and Phil and their Location, location, location programme. But finding the right location for you depends upon a number of different elements.
Firstly what is your budget? If you are buying something with the all important ‘Potential” element, you need to factor this into your offer price. If you are not going to do the work yourselves, then start getting some ideas of costs by asking builders to quote. If you give them dimensions and a comprehensive idea of what you want, they should be able to give you a ball park figure. Always factor in at least 15% on top of this for any unplanned contingencies. I would suggest though that if you are buying with the intention of re modelling, that you live in the property for at least 6 months before you make any decisions. It is surprising how much your needs and ideas can change once you have got to know your home.
If the property is in need of serious renovation beware- you may struggle to get a mortgage. Anything with a flying freehold can also give the lenders apoplexy! If you are buying a leasehold property, you will need to have a minimum of 65 – 70 years to get a mortgage but anything below 85 years can also get lenders twitchy. You need to get all of these elements addressed before exchange. (I can’t emphasise enough the need to find a good solicitor). Remember the estate agent is working on behalf of the seller and wants to get the best outcome for them, so it is your responsibility to make sure you are happy with everything before you part with your cash. Once exchange has happened, it is your responsibility to ensure the property. Again if you are going to do a major renovation and the property is empty, you will need to find a specialist insurance broker.
Your idyllic location could be in deepest Somerset in the middle of a field. But let’s be practical here. Its not a good choice if you are having to commute into London every day, especially if there is no village shop and you have run out of milk. Trust me – I have been there and doing a 14 mile round trip gets a bit wearing. Living in the countryside can be wonderful, but it’s an awful lot easier if you have a village shop, a pub, good transport links and an active community, otherwise you might decide to upticks and move back to the smoke.
The Government is keen to meet the growing need for new homes with the minister for housing Brandon Lewis setting an ambitious target of 1million new houses to be built over the next five years. This isn’t going to be just in existing towns and cities, it is going to effect everyone. Each village is being encouraged to develop their own Neighbourhood Plan. This is important in giving each village the opportunity to have some influence on the type of homes built, but there is no getting away from the fact that each one of us has been given a target to build a specific number of new homes which must be achieved by 2031. This will consider in-building, building on gardens and more worryingly building beyond the established village boundaries, so if you are looking at a nice house on the edge of a village overlooking nice empty fields, check to see if this area has not been zoned for potential building land.
I would suggest if you are looking to move to a more suburban location and you are not familiar with an area, try renting first. If the property is in a residential area, it may just be worth visiting the outside during rush hour, when the children come out of school and in the evening. You may find that that particular road that looked so quiet at lunchtime is the local rat run for commuters, or that all the local mums use the road as a car park for collecting their children from school. A relative of mine recently moved into a maisonette and had the neighbours from hell for a year, so just ask around about the property, the area and do your homework!
Another thing to consider is your life stage. If you are buying your first home, you might like the idea of a renovation project and enjoy all the hard work that comes with that. It can be very rewarding, but make sure that you have sufficient funds to take some time out, otherwise it becomes an obsession. You need to enjoy what you are doing and have the energy to complete it. If you have children, you will need to consider schooling so may want to move within a good catchment area. You also need good transport links especially if you have older teenagers. Otherwise you will be constantly playing taxi to pick them up from the pub or nightclub which may be some miles away.If you are nearing retirement that idyllic cottage in Devon might still appeal. This is great if you are happy with your own company but I think a larger town or small city may be a better option as you can access all the cultural activities and not have to depend upon public transport to get you home.