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House-buying tips in the current market?

I'm looking to buy a house and wonder if I could glean some useful tips from the wealth of experience across MSE Forumites. For example:
  • What are the most important factors to consider, especially when viewing a house? 
  • How did you decide which area to buy in? (I feel like it would be helpful to have lived in the area you want to buy because it reduces the risk. Then again, there's also a lot of information that you can find online these days and perhaps just spending a day or two in the area can give you a decent impression of whether it's a good idea to buy there?) 
  • Any opinions on new-builds - they are more energy-efficient but also I imagine potentially risky as you don't really know what you're getting? 
  • Is it essentially the same process whether you're a cash buyer or mortgage buyer (both would still need house surveys and conveyancing done, and the only difference is that for the former, you wouldn't have monthly repayments and interest rates to worry about, right)?
  • Bit more specific and maybe obvious but is a detached house the only type of property where you definitely won't get unpleasant smells seeping in from neighbours' homes? 
  • How much do you rely on gut feeling and intuition in this process? I read that it's good to get a second or even third viewing for a house you like the look of but the housing market moves so quickly, so how do you know if you can afford the luxury of an extra viewing before someone makes an offer or the property otherwise gets taken off the market?

Comments

  • Also, any tips for if you're in a chain, looking to fund the purchase of a property partly with the sale of another, would be much appreciated!
  • Richard1212
    Richard1212 Posts: 491 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    edited 29 August 2023 at 12:05AM
    I'm looking to buy a house and wonder if I could glean some useful tips from the wealth of experience across MSE Forumites. For example:
    • What are the most important factors to consider, especially when viewing a house? 
    • How did you decide which area to buy in? (I feel like it would be helpful to have lived in the area you want to buy because it reduces the risk. Then again, there's also a lot of information that you can find online these days and perhaps just spending a day or two in the area can give you a decent impression of whether it's a good idea to buy there?) 
    • Any opinions on new-builds - they are more energy-efficient but also I imagine potentially risky as you don't really know what you're getting? 
    • Is it essentially the same process whether you're a cash buyer or mortgage buyer (both would still need house surveys and conveyancing done, and the only difference is that for the former, you wouldn't have monthly repayments and interest rates to worry about, right)?
    • Bit more specific and maybe obvious but is a detached house the only type of property where you definitely won't get unpleasant smells seeping in from neighbours' homes? 
    • How much do you rely on gut feeling and intuition in this process? I read that it's good to get a second or even third viewing for a house you like the look of but the housing market moves so quickly, so how do you know if you can afford the luxury of an extra viewing before someone makes an offer or the property otherwise gets taken off the market?
    1. Most important factors are usually : can I afford it ( don't overstretch) ? ; is it worth the money being asked ( if not either leave it or make offers)? ; make sure it is in good repair, have a survey carried out ? is it a house that is the right size for me ( number and size of rooms etc) ? ; is it convenient for getting to and from my job ?; is it in a nice area ( and check crime rate online for the postcode) and convenient for shops, doctors, quality schools ( if that is a factor) ? And, then there is the "chemistry"----when you look round and feel a warm loving glow that tells you this is where you want to live for a very long time. There are other factors , but I mention the above.

    2. What you say is about right IMHO. Areas you know have big advantages for you. On the other hand , you may want to move up to a better area in which case it is easy to spend time looking around online but especially in person, even renting for a week or using a B&B.

    3. Your choice on new builds-----I'd go for established property but the house of your dreams may turn out to be a new build.

    4. Correct---buy outright and no mortgage is everyone's dream as you lose none of your income on mortgages, especiallky as they are so high at present. And don't forget you need a very large deposit.  Yes , legal requirements just the same.

    5. A strange question but I suppose it's relevant if it's important to you. Certainly a detached house is FAR better for lack of neighbours' cooking and other smells. Even so, I have several acres of garden and still get smells from farmers' muck-spreading and neighbours' garden rubbish fire burning, barbeques etc.

    6. Gut feeling and intuition are , I guess, what I meant by "chemistry" in 1. above. You should know on first viewing, especially if you've viewed a lot of houses already whether this is  THE ONE. But even that latter sort of house needs repeat visits ( to go into more detail on whether your furniture fits etc----and visits without viewing interior at different times of the day in order to see whether it becomes noisy or rowdy at certain times of the day, what traffic volume is like, the "feel" of the street, habits of neighbours etc etc. But if you get the real feeling after 2 visits with estate agents , put in an offer which you think reasonable---never offer to pay asking price straightaway, always see if sellers are willing to take lower price.

    As your post sounds as though all this is new to you, I wish you and your family much success and happiness in your home wherever it may be and I hope you find one that makes you feel the "chemistry". Best wishes.

    PS--just seen your second post about "chains"----they are a common nuisance and faced by many buyers and sellers : just get a good solicitor, keep making sure what you want and let them know your wishes/demands---never forget that YOU are paying for their services instead of them trying to make you feel they are doing you a favour in their busy schedule or even ignoring you and letting complicated "chains" fall apart because of the solicitors rather than buyers/sellers.
  • 3 factors for me and yes, it starts with Kirstie and Phil.

    Location - find the location you like best and can afford.

    Second, can you do anything to the house long term to help you if you decide to move later on.

    Third, if you can, and it might be a stretch, try to get higher up the ladder ie 3 bed house rather than 2 bed flat. Although there’s a bit more financial pain, you’ll save more than just money not having to move again in a few years
    2006 LBM £28,000+ in debt.
    2021 mortgage and debt free, working part time and living the dream
  • p00hsticks
    p00hsticks Posts: 12,759 Forumite
    First Post Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary
    • Bit more specific and maybe obvious but is a detached house the only type of property where you definitely won't get unpleasant smells seeping in from neighbours' homes? 
    I think detection of smells would depend on the gap between the houses - strong smells can travel quite a distance and tend to permeate through the air via open windows rather than through walls.. 

    Perhaps a more commonly talked about benefit of a detached house as opposed to a terrace, semi-detached or flat is the lack of noise from neighbours. 
  • RelievedSheff
    RelievedSheff Posts: 11,280 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper Photogenic
    We live in a detached new build. Our closest neighbours are 6m away and you can still smell strong cooking smells from the neighbours if you are outside. Although to be fair we are probably the bigger culprits for this as we do like a good curry or bbq!

    We moved to a new area when we bought this house but we did have some friends who lived there so we had some idea of what the area is like.

    We reserved this house on the first viewing. We knew as soon as we walked through the door that it was the right property for us. It was comfortably within budget and had the right amount of space, the right layout and an extremely private garden.
  • theforgetfulone
    theforgetfulone Posts: 6 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary
    edited 30 August 2023 at 10:23PM
    Thank you all for taking the time to comment and provide useful tips.


    1. Most important factors are usually : can I afford it ( don't overstretch) ? ; is it worth the money being asked ( if not either leave it or make offers)? ; make sure it is in good repair, have a survey carried out ? is it a house that is the right size for me ( number and size of rooms etc) ? ; is it convenient for getting to and from my job ?; is it in a nice area ( and check crime rate online for the postcode) and convenient for shops, doctors, quality schools ( if that is a factor) ? And, then there is the "chemistry"----when you look round and feel a warm loving glow that tells you this is where you want to live for a very long time. There are other factors , but I mention the above.

    2. What you say is about right IMHO. Areas you know have big advantages for you. On the other hand , you may want to move up to a better area in which case it is easy to spend time looking around online but especially in person, even renting for a week or using a B&B.

    3. Your choice on new builds-----I'd go for established property but the house of your dreams may turn out to be a new build.

    4. Correct---buy outright and no mortgage is everyone's dream as you lose none of your income on mortgages, especiallky as they are so high at present. And don't forget you need a very large deposit.  Yes , legal requirements just the same.

    5. A strange question but I suppose it's relevant if it's important to you. Certainly a detached house is FAR better for lack of neighbours' cooking and other smells. Even so, I have several acres of garden and still get smells from farmers' muck-spreading and neighbours' garden rubbish fire burning, barbeques etc.

    6. Gut feeling and intuition are , I guess, what I meant by "chemistry" in 1. above. You should know on first viewing, especially if you've viewed a lot of houses already whether this is  THE ONE. But even that latter sort of house needs repeat visits ( to go into more detail on whether your furniture fits etc----and visits without viewing interior at different times of the day in order to see whether it becomes noisy or rowdy at certain times of the day, what traffic volume is like, the "feel" of the street, habits of neighbours etc etc. But if you get the real feeling after 2 visits with estate agents , put in an offer which you think reasonable---never offer to pay asking price straightaway, always see if sellers are willing to take lower price.

    As your post sounds as though all this is new to you, I wish you and your family much success and happiness in your home wherever it may be and I hope you find one that makes you feel the "chemistry". Best wishes.

    PS--just seen your second post about "chains"----they are a common nuisance and faced by many buyers and sellers : just get a good solicitor, keep making sure what you want and let them know your wishes/demands---never forget that YOU are paying for their services instead of them trying to make you feel they are doing you a favour in their busy schedule or even ignoring you and letting complicated "chains" fall apart because of the solicitors rather than buyers/sellers.
    Thanks Richard for the particularly detailed reply and for your warm wishes. Yes, it's all new to me! I'm buying with a family member who has been through the process before (albeit through an auction). I, on the other hand, have no experience whatsoever and am somewhat of a house-buying dummy. Maybe I'm exposing my naivety here again but how would we go about finding a good solicitor (apart from recommendations from family and friends)?

    I think detection of smells would depend on the gap between the houses - strong smells can travel quite a distance and tend to permeate through the air via open windows rather than through walls.. 

    Perhaps a more commonly talked about benefit of a detached house as opposed to a terrace, semi-detached or flat is the lack of noise from neighbours. 
    Yeah, I did have the noise factor in mind too though have been lucky enough not to have had any negative experiences with regards to noisy neighbours! I have read about smells travelling through flats, terraced and even semi-detached houses even when the windows have been closed, so they must be permeating through the fabric of the building somehow. Guess there is potential for problems to arise any time you share a wall or floor with another property.
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