Buying and Selling a Home For Dummies (UK Edition)
Whether you’re a first time buyer struggling to get on the property ladder or are thinking of moving house, you’ve come to the right place! Print out and pin up this handy guide, which takes you through how to choose the right property, get the right mortgage and how to prepare for a viewing.
Tips to Buying the Right Property
Although everyone’s requirements are very different when it comes to buying property, here are a few general rules to bear in mind when searching for your property:
Be clear in your mind about what you want before arranging to view any properties.
Research the area carefully, particularly if you aren’t familiar with it.
Don’t let the agent or seller rush you into a decision. Take your time and trust your instinct.
Ask yourself whether you can envision yourself living in the property. You should get a feel for this as soon as you walk through the door. If you aren’t sure, keep looking.
Ask the sellers about the neighbours and whether they have had any problems with them. If they’ve made a complaint about the neighbours, they’re legally obliged to tell you if you ask.
Time the commute to work and the school run at the time of day you’re likely to make these journeys.
Visit the property after dark. If troublemakers are hanging around on street corners, you may not feel safe walking home late at night.
Commission a survey. If you don’t, you may miss serious structural problems that are expensive to rectify after you’ve bought the property.
What to Remember about Mortgages
Your home is likely to be your most expensive purchase, ever. So getting the finance right is vital. Follow these guidelines when deciding on which mortgage to go for.
Don’t accept the first mortgage offered to you by your bank. Shop around to see whether it’s competitive.
Use an independent mortgage broker to find a home loan; doing so can save you time and effort searching the market for the best deal.
Make sure you don’t overstretch yourself. Can you afford to meet the repayments if interest rates rise? To find out, write down your incomings and outgoings. The balance is the amount you can afford to spend on the mortgage each month. If it’s not enough to afford a decent loan, make sacrifices or delay the purchase until you can afford it.
Save up a deposit. Not all lenders require one, but if you have a deposit, you’ll get a better rate, have lower monthly repayments, and won’t have to pay mortgage indemnity guarantee.
Ask your parents for help because they may be able to stump up a deposit or act as guarantors.
Avoid extended redemption penalties. Paying a penalty for switching mortgages before a fixed offer comes to an end is fair enough, but don’t accept a mortgage with penalties that extend beyond this period.
Watch out for compulsory insurance. Some lenders charge borrowers a one-off fee if they don’t take out their buildings or contents insurance. It might be cheaper to pay this and buy your insurance elsewhere.
Preparing for a House Viewing as a Home Seller
The majority of prospective home buyers go with their gut instinct and decide whether to make an offer on your property almost as soon as they’ve set foot inside the place. Try to convince them that they can live there by following these checklists.
Getting the inside of your home in order for buyers' visits
You'll want everything to be looking clean and fresh when potential buyers come through. Here are some ways to get started:
Spring clean. Take out the rubbish. Clean out cupboards and wardrobes. Hire a steam cleaner to remove carpet stains.
De-clutter. Hide the trinkets cluttering the shelves. Remove extra furniture and put it in the garage (or into storage) to make the rooms appear bigger.
Attend to repairs. Broken drawer handles, cupboard doors hanging off their hinges, and missing bathroom or kitchen tiles create a poor first impression.
Paint grubby walls, or those in dark or unusual colours, in light, neutral shades.
Check the plumbing. Prospective buyers often flush the toilet and will notice leaky taps. Make sure you replace washers, if required, and fix the toilet, if needed, before showing anyone round your home.
Check all windows, curtains, and blinds. They should be clean, unbroken, secure, and operate properly.
Check all rugs, lino, and wooden floors. They need to be clean and in good condition. If there’s a hole in the carpet, strategically disguise it with furniture or a rug.
Check bathrooms. Thoroughly clean the toilet, bath, shower, sink, mirrors, and cabinets. Put a new toilet roll on the toilet roll holder. Put a clean hand towel in the bathroom.
Matching sets of fluffy white towels give a much better impression than odd, tatty, or dirty towels.)
Put fresh flowers in as many rooms as possible. You can’t beat fresh flowers, but must make sure they are really fresh. If they smell especially fragrant, all the better.
Replace any burnt out light bulbs. If you’re showing prospective buyers round in the evening, remember that soft up-lighting is more flattering than a harsh bulb without a lampshade in the middle of the ceiling.
Make sure your home smells fresh. Brew coffee, bake bread, and light those scented candles.
Avoid air fresheners, they smell too artificial.
Make the beds!
Cleaning up the outside of your home to impress buyers
You'll want your home buyers to get the best possible impression of your property even before they walk through the door. Welcome house-hunting visitors with these tips:
Don’t forget kerb appeal. First impressions count so make sure the exterior of the property is free of rubbish and the garden is tidy.
Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, and weed the drive. Keep the front of the property as neat as possible.
Remove clutter from the windowsills. Remember, the prospective buyers will notice untidy windowsills as they walk up the front path.
Other important details for readying your house for sale
Before house buyers visit your home, make sure you've taken care of these details:
Ask a neighbour to look after Fido. Not everyone likes pets, and some prospective buyers may even be allergic.
Perform a final inspection of the entire property for appearance and cleanliness.