Top Questions Every Property Buyer Should Ask
When it comes to buying property, whether it’s your first home or an investment property, what are the top questions you should ask?
It’s not easy to get on the property ladder, so whether you’re a first-time buyer or investing in a buy-to-let, congratulations! But before you get too caught up in the excitement of buying, take a moment to think about the key questions you need to ask before you sign on the dotted line…
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6 key questions first-time buyers should ask
It’s a thrill to choose the first home you’ve ever owned – so keeping a cool head and remembering what’s important is essential. If you can keep these things in mind while hunting for your perfect home you’ll do yourself a big favour.
1. How much space do you need?
How much space do you need now, and how will that change in the foreseeable future? You most likely don’t possess a crystal ball, but what’s the future likely to look like? Have you been making do with a corner of the lounge, but pining for a home office? Do you have a lot of hobbies or sporting equipment to store? And are you looking to start a family? Two young children can share a bedroom initially, but ideally they’d eventually have their own rooms. Maybe you even plan for an elderly parent to be able to move in one day, in which case you can keep an eye out for homes that would suit a space for them. And if you love having guests, does the home enable you to put them up when they visit? It’s shockingly easy to fill a space once you’re moved in, so if you’re worried it’s too small for your needs, it almost certainly is.
2. Do you want outside space?
It will come as no surprise if we tell you that demand for properties with outdoor space has rocketed since the pandemic. Cast your mind back to those early days of lockdown, with our outings limited to one a day, and it all makes sense. In 2020 we all quickly learned the value of having a piece of the outdoors as part of our homes. An outdoor space affords you an extended living space, the option of gardening as a peaceful hobby, growing your own food, endless nature watching and even the potential for an office pod or summerhouse.
3. What are your must-haves?
A home is for the long haul so it’s time to think about what you couldn’t live without. For some, this would be a bath, maybe off-street parking, or a dedicated office. It’s easy to take things in our lives for granted, so look at your current living arrangement and consider what you’d really miss if your new place didn’t have it. It pays to stump for somewhere that has what you need to live comfortably, or at least the potential to add those essentials without too much hassle.
4. Are you up for getting your hands dirty?
Speaking of potential, those of you who are handy with a drill stand to score extra value by opting for a home that needs work. For some, it’s a joyous adventure, with the destination being the personalised space you’ve dreamt of. For others, it’s a plaster-dust-covered nightmare, so it pays to work out which camp you’re in. A word of caution: if you’re planning on funding the work with a loan, this will of course add to your monthly outgoings. If you’d be using savings to fund the work, and you’re not sure that you love being amid the mess of major building work, should you instead use those savings to create a larger deposit so you can buy a place that doesn’t need work?
5. Will there be wriggle room in your budget?
Even amid the uncertainty surrounding the cost-of-living crisis, it’s easy to convince ourselves that our finances will be magically much better in the future. You don’t need us to tell you that buying a home is no small thing financially, so be honest with yourself about any upcoming pressures. There are those things in your control, like quitting your job and setting up a business, or having a baby. Then there are things outside of your control, like energy prices and whether you have to take time off work for ill health. A little wriggle room gives lots of peace of mind.
6. What’s your location?
What influences the area you want to buy in? Make sure you take all parts of life into account. No doubt you’ll want somewhere close enough to work that you’re not exhausted by the time you arrive. You may well want to live a short walk from family and friends for easy social connection, or perhaps you’re moving further afield and want somewhere buzzing enough to easily make some new friends. What amenities do you care about being near? Maybe you’re a gym nut, or you can’t go without basking in a fancy café atmosphere. Sure, finding a place that ticks all boxes and is affordable can be a challenge, but keep an open mind about which areas could be your new neighbourhood.
5 questions buy-to-let investors should ask
Buying to let can feel more complicated than buying your own home. After all, you’re looking for the right place for you to invest in, but also you’re shopping for a home for someone you haven’t met.
But if you ask yourself these questions you’ll see a good return on your money, and minimal stress.
1. Location is king
If you’re looking to buy a property near where you live, do your homework on exactly where – and who – the potential tenants are. Are they students, young professionals, families? And if you don’t mind managing a property remotely, which of the top UK rental hotspots will you go for? Which properties in your area are being snapped up, and which are languishing on the shelf? Will off-street parking give you an advantage, or maybe an electric vehicle charging point? And remember to check for good transport links and amenities. If you’re a homebody with a car, you might not be attuned to such things, but these can be serious plus points for future tenants.
2. Workable inside space
How easy will it be to maintain? A luxury feature may seem appealing, but it could be difficult to maintain or repair. An open-plan layout may be less versatile when it comes to different types of tenant. One thing you can’t afford to ignore is that properties with two or more bedrooms are much more in demand than one-beds since the pandemic, so that’s certainly something to think about.
3. Suitable outside space
If you were moving into your own home, you won’t mind investing in some nice landscaping, or paying out to have your acres of land mowed. For tenants, it’s different as they won’t want to invest heaps of time and money into a space they’ll be moving on from sooner or later. That said, families really value a bit of garden – perhaps a lawn, or somewhere to put a swing and a slide. They probably won’t mind running the lawnmower around in return. Young professionals, on the other hand, will be content with a sunny spot to have their morning coffee, or maybe have an al fresco dinner. Minimal upkeep is the name of the game. And if you’re buying where space is a premium and a garden isn’t an option, don’t underestimate the appeal of a balcony.
4. A smooth resale
While a property is a long-term investment it might not be forever, and you could find yourself wanting to cash in on your investment down the line. That’s why it’s worth considering anything that would make it hard to sell. It is situated on a flood plain, or is it near a new bypass that’s soon to be built? Perhaps a major employer in the area is moving away soon? You can’t dodge the changes that come along once you’re the owner, but doing your research now could mean you dodge a bullet.
5. Can you rent it out straight away?
When you’re getting your survey done, invest in additional electrical checks. You’ll need an EICR and Gas Safety check anyway, so best to make sure now that the property would pass. An empty property doesn’t bring in money, plus sometimes your insurance can be affected if the property is unoccupied. So get the lowdown on what needs doing, and then get it done before renting it out.
So there you have it. True, none of these are rocket science, but they are tried and tested nuggets of wisdom. They have saved a lot of buyers a lot of pain, and we hope they make your property journey smooth and successful.