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Great 'What I wish I’d known before I bought my first home' Hunt



  • Hopejack
    Hopejack Posts: 507 Forumite
    edited 27 January 2010 at 3:11PM
    Mr Gumby - I think I agreed with you to an extent! As you say, it depends on where is the garden etc in relation to the house - some have gardens on the side but we can generalise as we couldn't name all specifics! Of course, if you are buying a flat then this is all besides the point anyway as often there is no garden!

    What I was actually trying to point out was that imo south isn't great as you will always have a north somewhere on the property which will be cold/dark... Also, south will be so hot that it can be difficult to sit out - heat in conservatories being a good example :)

    Agree that solicitors are a minefield - it's so hard to get a decent recommendation as well. Everyone I've asked will always say 'don't use so and so' but not often say 'oh mine was good'!
  • Dear Reader

    It may sound obvious but my greatest tip is to do anything in your power to reduce the amount you pay for somewhere to live, as I have found once you take on a mortgage it can seriously impact on your quality of life.
    I realise that a mortgage is cheaper and better than renting so as I say do anything such as buy as cheaper house in as nice an area as you can, buy at auction, build you own, anything just to get the price down as once you start paying it it is like a millstone round your neck. Yes its ok if you have a very secure job and are eminantly employable and are happy in your job, but these days good jobs are rare and its highly likely you may not be employed solidly for 25 years.
    Also one other tip is to look ahead if you are going to start a family then it would make sense to buy a bigger house with the extra bedrooms rather than have to move again with all the costs involved in that.

    Hope this helps someone
    Geoff1234(46 years old)
  • MrGumby
    MrGumby Posts: 174 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    edited 27 January 2010 at 6:33PM
    Neilus1 wrote: »
    True, it is rare, but very occasionally it can be vital. Ive heard and witnessed a few occasions when a remote solicitor has failed to pick up on the likelihood of a chancel repair liability, some abstract mining right or even some strange right of access across a property simply because they didn't know that the problem was peculiar to that area. If you are aware of these problems yourself, you can instruct any solicitor to conduct the right searches, regardless of where they are based.
    Valid point, but I wouldn't rely even on a local solicitor to pick up such things. That is exactly the reason I stopped using expensive local solicitors in the first place - one of them failed to spot the fact that our drainage was via a private pumping station that kept breaking down and there was no formal arrangement in place for its maintenance. The solicitor for my first house purchase didn't point out that a public footpath went through the toilet built on to the back of my cottage!

    I would advise people to do as much research for themselves as possible, whoever's doing the conveyancing, e.g.:

    ~ talk to as many neighbours as possible (most are only too happy to pass on local knowledge)
    ~ look at old OS maps in the local library to discover past uses for the land
    ~ check the Environment Agency website for flood plain information etc.

    Trust no one. Apply common sense. Do the research for yourself. That includes surveying - yes, get a full structural survey but, as someone else pointed out, do as much as you can yourself too. Be observant and look at it as a house, not a home. Open/close every door and window, look behind furniture on outside walls for signs of damp (grey mould), try every tap, toilet and especially shower, try as many switches and sockets as possible, make sure all the rads get hot right across their surface. Go up in the loft and check the roof timbers for rot, and so on. Are the door locks up to insurance standards (generally 5-lever mortcie deadlocks)? Check outside for cracks in the walls, bridged damp proof course, rotten woodwork (take a screwdriver and try sticking it in wooden window frames and sills). Take binoculars and check the roof for missing/slipped tiles and the gutters and woodwork for signs of problems (ideally, go on a wet day and see if there are leaks from the gutters). If you're feeling brave, lift the drain covers, have someone flush a toilet and check that the drains flow well; look for roots/debris/damage in the manholes. This should not be on your first visit but the final one before committing to buy. Ensure the estate agent makes a long enough appointment for you to be able to do all those things or at least as many as you feel up to.

    Re survey, if possible accompany the surveyor. He/she is likely to say far more verbally than they will write in a report, even if only because of time constraints. You could even consider accepting just a verbal report, for a lower price, although that will make it difficult to get compensation for any mistakes the surveyor might make.
  • amyparr
    amyparr Posts: 256 Forumite
    As a solicitor myself, this seems outrageous - fees should be clearly set out to you when you instruct a solicitor.

    If you get a bad solicitor who acts unprofessionally like this, always consider reporting them to the Law Society.
    I'd like to point out what I was caught out on the most. The solicitors hidden fees. I'd spent hours working out every charge to the penny so I was absolutely sure they'd be no surprises. Alas...

    I'd budgeted for stamp duty, mortgage fees, surveyor fees, enviro searches, land registry fees, and when I was told by my solicitors that all in they would charge £550 + vat I budgeted for that too. I asked them lots of questions before going with them about hidden charges but they were adament there were none. Alas, 1 week before exchange, in came the letters asking for an extra £150 + vat if I wanted to complete in less than 3 weeks, £150 + vat if I did as that would put me on the fast track service. And the best part, an extra £275 + vat because I was taking out a mortgage so they had extra processing to do, even that was extra! Needless to say I didn't have this cash just lying around at that time.

    I was aware of the first fees as that had be explained early on, but it wasn't explained that it automatically led to the fast track service (which I'd earlier opted out of). But as I'd opted out it was easy to argue out of that one. But at no point did they ever mention extra fees for mortgagees even though they knew from the start that I, like almost every other buyer, would be getting one. After I bitterly protested this many times they eventually gave up and charged nothing. They do this right at the end when you're at your most vunerable because they know they have your head over a barrell. It's distgusting behaviour.

    I'd like to say always read the small print, but with solicitors all the wording is always ambiguous. My best advice is use a solicitor that is recommended by someone you trust who has gone through the same process you are about to go through, and that they were very happy. Don't ever use the solicitor that the estate agent recommends, they will almost certainly be on commission and will add extra fees to cover this.
  • Thrugelmir
    Thrugelmir Posts: 89,546 Forumite
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary First Post
    Look inside as many properties as possible. Don't rely on EA's details alone. Drive the roads. Often gems are hidden away in areas one wouldn't consider.

    Don't fall in love with a property just because it appears that you can move in without having to do anything. As decoration can hide numerous sins. While a tired run property may not seen appealing. Imagine it when you've put your own mark on it.

    When you find the property you want to buy, you'll know it.

    Most importantly view a property as a home not an investment.
  • Charis
    Charis Posts: 1,302 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I'm on property number five now (in 38+ years). Things I have learned are:

    Never buy a property solely for the view. We did once and ended up looking at too-close brick walls when the new properties built behind us were houses, not the proposed bungalows. Friends of mine now pay premium council tax to live on a hill in the middle of nowhere - and look out onto someone's trees that have grown so big they block their lovely view of the Chilterns. :cool:

    Have a little chat with someone who lives near, but not next to, the property. They'll be honest about what the area is like and are less likely to be either pally with the neighbours or anxious to get rid of them :rotfl:

    If the property is over 20 years old, factor in buying a new boiler (warm air unit in our case) and having someone check the electrics. You don't know who tacked on all those extensions. :eek:

    If you need a big job done, ask a few of your neighbours who they would recommend, especially if they've had it done themselves and are happy. Cheapest is not necessarily best.:money:

  • Get a knowledgeable friend (or at least one with a realistic attitude) with a jaundiced eye to give you their honest opinion of the property and the price you’re paying. Be grateful for their view, not tetchy if it doesn't coincide with yours.
  • Just bought a place Nov 2009 - most tips already on here but no harm putting them down again!

    - use a local and recommended solicitor. Get a full breakdown of their fees and any other charges e.g. land registry, handling your deposit etc...

    - someone above mentioned finding out how the solicitor works, which was good advice. I liked that I had direct contact with the solicitor handling my case and I wasn't talking to a call centre (which is how some large firms work).

    - shop around and get quotes for everything - solicitor, mortgage, survey

    - test everything - lights, cooker, oven, doors, windows, extractor fans EVERYTHING!!

    - Get the Home Information Pack and READ IT before you put in an offer - its free and has a lot of information on your prospective purchase

    - Ensure surveyor is RICS chartered. Get a full survey for older houses.

    - Don't be afraid to ask questions and ensure you get a satisfactory answer in writing from the vendor's solicitor. Don't let them fob you off with answers that don't really answer the question.

  • I bought my first house last June and I've got three tips. Number one, remember that if you're a first-time buyer and aren't moving from an unfurnished place you will need to buy EVERYTHING! This can be really expensive. Even if you have already budgeted for bed, sofa, telly &c, or have them already, remember that other stuff will mount up: we had to buy a bin for under the sink, an ironing board, clothesline, squeegee, vacuum cleaner, lawnmower, garden tools, ladder, all sorts of stuff. None of these things were very pricy but they really add up, especially if you urgently need them all at once. It might be worth freecycling or asking friends and parents if they have any of this stuff spare before you move in.

    Number two is a tip a friend of mine gave me. When you move in the place will be FILTHY. If you buy it new it will be full of chips of plaster and dust. If you buy it from someone else the cupboards will be grubby and the walls covered in big dirty moving-men fingermarks and scrapes from where they've carried their furniture down the stairs. It is no reflection on them but moving is a dirty business! It is worth hiring professional cleaners to come in, give everything a thorough scrub and clean the carpets before you move your furniture in. You will have enough to do unpacking without spending a whole week scrubbing out the oven, washing windows &c.

    Number three, for some reason at 95% of furniture shops it takes them six to eight weeks to make/deliver your sofa (even the cheap ones) so unless you want to be sitting on folding chairs for six weeks it is worth ordering them before you move in.
  • MrGumby
    MrGumby Posts: 174 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    ihunford wrote: »
    use a local solicitor
    I'd be interested to know why "local". If their price is competitive, fine, there's nothing to lose and everything to gain. Otherwise I tend to disagree (see earlier posts) - save yourself some money.
    ihunford wrote: »
    Get a full survey for older houses
    Get a full survey for all houses, even brand new ones - perhaps especially brand new ones.
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