With the possibility of some of the lowest interest rates available, NOW is the time to take advantage of getting a mortgage slightly higher than you would normally have taken. You can have sufficient cash to upgrade a new property making 2020 the year of a great new start. Borrowing money has never been so good and investing in property has always been a good long term decision.
This checklist is not totally comprehensive, although it will give you a great start and allows you to tick things off the list. Do read this in conjunction with our Blog on the same subject which will fill you in on more detail. You may not be taking on a big refurbishment but just up-grading a property to bring it in line with today’s necessities. We address all major issues and hopefully instigate a thought process you would not always have considered.
BEFORE YOU VIEW A PROPERTY
Read the Estate Agents details carefully and ask questions to avoid wasting everyone’s time.
- Why are these people moving house?
- Are they intending to buy another property with a mortgage- so will you be part of a chain?
- How long have they lived there and do they know their neighbours well?
- How long has it been on the market and has it been reduced?
- How many people have viewed it already and have any sales fallen through and why?
- Has it been extended and when? Dates are important to help find previous applications from your Local Authority. Important if you think you may want to extend.
- Try to familiarise yourself with the layout of the property so you know what to expect.
HOMEWORK ON YOUR PART
If you are going to make substantial renovations and may include an extension ask your local authority the following. You may have to pay a pre-app fee for the meeting.
- What are their restrictions ‘in general’ to this road for extensions and refurbishment? You will then view the property with an understanding of what may be accepted.
- What are the maximum heights, mass, its boundary and curtilage lines – all important considerations for Planning Applications?
- Discover (if you do not know already) if the property is Listed, has used up its permitted development rights, has a Townscape Merit Award and sits within a conservation area.
- Are there any specific restrictions to properties in this area?
- What is the Local Authority looking to gain in the long term from its local housing stock?
The information will be safe, general and not specific, without a plan but it gives you an introduction to what you may do. Local architects, planning consultants and builders will also give you their experienced view.
VIEWING PROPERTIES FOR YOUR NEW HOME
Only you will understand the level of work you want to do on a property but always be an informed buyer. To do this:
- Take on board the advice above and ask questions whilst you are there with respect. Only take photos with permission as it is still their home – perhaps after you have offered and it has been accepted, this is possible or at a second viewing.
- Don’t lose your heart to a property until you have negotiated a price that reflects its true value and you genuinely understand the work that will be involved.
- Consider how long you mean to live there. Is this a property to bring up your family in or are you looking at it short term and to make a fast return on your investment?
- Buildings with special restrictions may be a lengthy job and take a hit on your lifestyle. What would your estimate be on time and money to overcome the obstacles and complete the work?
- Would you qualify for the right mortgage and what cash would you have left to work with?
- Could you afford to live elsewhere whilst the work is done before moving in?
MAJOR PHYSICAL PROPERTY CHALLENGES
Don’t get too hung up on people’s personal decorative taste and furniture. This is easy to change and if it smells, maybe it is not very well looked after which can form part of the negotiated price. The big challenges, aside of planning issues, special conditions eg. Listed building’s, are to do with the fabric of the building.
- Rising Damp or an old leaking roof with guttering and downpipes that are past their best.
- Dry Rot.
- Wet Rot.
- Beatle Infestation.
We cover what are the signs to look out for and if you suspect major issues then a full structural survey is essential and again this will facilitate your negotiation on the price you pay for the property.
THE SERVICES TO A PROPERTY
With the advent of new technology (which is forever changing) these have developed into another challenge. Renewing services can cause major upheaval if you are going to live in the property whilst the work is done.
- Lighting and power supply.
- The New Kitchen.
- Numerous en-suite bathrooms.
- Audio Visual, Wi-Fi and the home office.
RENOVATION OR REFURBISHMENT
These are slightly different. General refurbishment can be just updating the interior compared to renovating a property which can be a long term labour of love, restoring a property to its original condition. Therefore:
- Can you do the majority of the work in one go so that you spend time enjoying just living in the property?
- Do you have sufficient funds or can see a programme of funding ahead?
- The location of the property is important – this will rarely change and you need to buy in the best area you can afford.
- What is the ability to maintain and build on its value with the additional work you will do?
- How long do you intend to live in the property?
- What will the annual maintenance be if there are grounds, large boundaries to maintain and gardens with a lot of trees?
YOUR PROPERTY AS AN INVESTMENT
Investing in property has always been like an additional income to me. I buy the worst possible property in the best location I can afford and with my experience understand the costs that will be required to bring it back to a saleable condition. I generally move on after a few years now our family is grown up, but it is important to always maintain your property to the best possible standard. You never know when you might need to sell and property should always be a good investment.