Donate SIGN UP

A buyer's market

01:00 Fri 01st Feb 2002 |

Last week, in response to a question from Ravenhair we looked at ways to ensure your property sold quickly and at the right place by making it stand out from the crowd.

This week the shoe is on the other foot as looks at what buyers should be looking for to make sure a property really lives up to their dreams....

Q.� What can looking at the outside of a property tell us

A.� If you are new to a town or an area have a good tramp around to give you an idea of what parts of it you would like to live in, taking account of practical considerations like local services, transport links, leisure facilities, activities for kids and so on. Having done that you can start to hone down your search.

When it comes to looking at a particular property study the outside. Does it look well cared for If so chances are it will be worth having a look inside.

What sort of condition are the other houses in the street If there are others that look like they have recently been renovated it could mean it is an up and coming area. However, if there is a general feel of neglect and disrepair it could be that the area is going the other way.

Q.� What should you do before viewing the property from the inside

A.� If you're planning to look at a number of properties in one day, wear a pair of comfortable shoes to make walking less of a strain. Have a decent meal before you go as feeling hungry can reduce your concentration and make you irritable.

It is often a good idea to take someone you trust with you, whether it be a partner or friend. They may point out positives or negatives that you miss and stop you getting carried away.

If you've got children it is best to leave them with someone for your first visit to stop them distracting you. There will be time for them to have their input once you've narrowed down the field.

Before you set foot over the threshold find out from the agent or vendor how long the property has been on the market and make sure you find out if it is currently under offer.

Q.� OK, what should you look for once actually inside

A.� Always try and see the property for the first time in daylight (if you think you are interested it is a good idea to see it after dark as well).

Check for signs of damp. Most damp is caused by condensation due to double glazing or lack of ventilation but it may need checking. Hairline cracks in the ceiling aren't usually anything to worry, they are caused by the natural settling of the property, about but large cracks are a cause for concern.

Consider the lay out of the property, are there any unusually shaped rooms that it will be difficult to fit your furniture into. Have you got lots of electrical equipment, computers, stereos, etc If so make sure there are enough sockets in the rooms.

If you can get access to the roof check the insulation and turn the light off to make sure you can't see any patches of daylight.

Q.� And what should we ask the vendors

A.� Try and adopt as friendly an attitude as possible, it could make all the difference if you are on good terms when it comes to negotiating.

Try and find out practical things such as what the average heating bills are, when the damp course was fitted, how easy is the parking, what's the council tax and is it in a neighbourhood watch area.

Finally there are the nitty-gritty factors on the sale itself. If you think you might want to make an offer first find out what the vendors are planning to leave behind and what is staying and, vitally, whether or not they are in a chain that could seriously delay any move.

If you've got a question about your home or garden, click here.

By Tom Gard

Do you have a question about Home & Garden?