House-hunting in London? 10 essential tips for first time buyers, from a first time buyer
Hoorah, you’ve got enough money to put down a deposit on a lovely little property of your own! A first step on the abundant ladder of property awaits you. Unfortunately if said ladder is propped up somewhere in or around London, getting your money in order is just the beginning. If you’re house-hunting, or considering making the move, here are a few hints and tips from the front line.
As we all know, prices are rising in this here city’s bubble in a crazy fashion, and as some point, the market will peak, and the bubble will pop. As an estate agent told me, it’s unlikely to drop as the supply still exists, but probably will stop increasing at some point soon. So if you’re still keen and prepared to get purchasing, here’s what I learnt.
- Don’t look at anything unless your finances are ready to go. There will inevitably be someone who is fully prepared to move there and then and that will count against you if you’re going to make an offer.
- Register with estate agents ideally face to face, so that they remember you. If your search area is too wide to trek to the offices, call them up. Emails tend to disappear into a black hole and go nowhere.
- For large agencies, you probably will have to register with each individual office in your search area.
- Because of the sheer scale of people wanting to buy at the moment, you kind of have to be your own estate agent. Call up each office about once every two days to see if anything new has come in and to stay front of mind. Check on larger host websites (Right Move, Zoopla etc) and call to arrange viewings from there.
- Once you get a viewing, ask that they confirm it in email, in case you misheard or forgot the full address, and to make sure it’s clear in everyone’s diaries.
- House hunting is almost a full time job, and things change within a matter of hours, so keep checking agents’ websites at the beginning of the day and at lunch.
- If you’re going to be seeing a lot of properties, buy a notebook and take down the basics on each one you see; address, price, agent, proximity to the station/bus/route to work, date you saw it and any notes on your impressions of the place. It helps to make sure you remember which is which.
- Stuff to ask: length of lease (if its leasehold), service charge, ground rent, situation of the vendor (whether they want to sell quickly etc),
- When you see a property, you’ll need to decide before the end of that day whether you want to put in an offer. It’s bound to feel rushed, but you can guarantee no one else will wait around to see what else is out there.
- Remember that you’re not tied to anything until the contracts have been exchanged – if you reconsider, or the surveys come up with anything unusual, you can back out.