Be prepared when looking at properties (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Buying your first home can be daunting – it’s a big purchase and there’s a lot to take in.
Often, you put an offer in and decide on the most expensive purchase of your life, based on a viewing that lasts under an hour.
And according to Pete Mugleston, Mortgage Advisor and MD at OnlineMortgageAdvisor there are seven big mistakes first-time buyers make when looking at properties.
Buying for the first time, combined with nerves and excitement can lead to buyers saying the wrong thing or not getting all the information they need.
Pete explains what you can do to make the process easier.
1. Being unprepared
With so many different things to organise, buying a home can be complicated, especially for those who have never done it before.
Before you start looking at properties, you need to have an idea of what you can actually afford.
There’s no point picking out the perfect home if it’s not in your budget.
Pete explains that many first-time buyers don’t do enough research before arranging a viewing.
He says: ‘You should learn about your mortgage options as well as the other costs involved with buying a property.
‘This will allow you to gain a better understanding of your budget and a good idea of the kind of price range you are working within to avoid stretching yourself too far financially.’
He also recommends really studying how far you can stretch in terms of area and what will work for you.
‘When it comes to the property itself,’ he says, ‘It’s good to research the surrounding areas to see what’s available in your price range if you look a little further afield than simply the town or city you currently have your heart set on.
‘It’s also worth considering your nearest bus/train schedule for post COVID-19 commuting routes, local Ofsted school ratings, parking and local crime rates before you start to look at houses.’
2. Mentioning it’s your dream house
Once you manage to get a viewing, there are a few things you shouldn’t say to the person showing you around.
Pete says one of the biggest mistakes is mentioning it’s your dream house. It’s best to keep your cards close to your chest.
He says: ‘If you let it slip to either the current owner or the agent working on their behalf that the property being viewed is the home of your dreams, then you are putting yourself at an unfair disadvantage and may have to fork out more on your offer.
‘A few compliments to let them know you’re a fan of the property is always nice as you don’t want to come off as uninterested, but the last thing you want is for them to start dropping competitive offers or raise prices because they know how much you like the house.
‘Remaining neutral is always key regarding any negotiations.’
3. Asking the right question but to the wrong person
When drawing up your list of questions, think about who is best to ask.
While it might be good to ask the seller about things like the costs of running the property or something specific to the person living there, it’s best not to be too intrusive.
Pete explains: ‘Sometimes, the questions you want to ask whilst viewing a property aren’t necessarily inappropriate, it’s just important to target them towards the right person.
‘For example, it’s best not to ask the seller themselves why they’re selling the house. The reason could be to do with finances, personal issues or even a death in the family, so it could be quite a private and personal question which they may feel uncomfortable answering.
‘So, it’s best if you ask any questions you may have to the seller’s agent in private.’
4. Having a quick look around to be polite
While it might be a little awkward taking a look around what is still someone else’s home, don’t rush – this is a big decision and you should check out everything you need to know.
Pete says: ‘Some buyers end up regretting how little time they spent looking around a property before committing to a purchase, so before making an offer it’s really important to take the time to consider the potential of the house, any issues with the properties age or foundation, and anything that could impact your future plans to make sure you can see yourself living there for the foreseeable future.
‘It’s important to think about whether the rooms are big enough for your needs, or if there’s enough storage space.
‘You also need to be aware of anything that may needs repairing which could eat into your budget, including checking for damp, double-glazing and water pressure.’
5. Criticising the current aesthetic
While the decor might not be to your taste and you want to change it, bare in mind that the way it looks is personal to the person who lives there.
If the property has multiple offers, they might be less inclined to go with someone who upset them.
Pete says: ‘When someone lets you into their home for a viewing, regardless of whether they are selling or are a tenant, it is good to have some level of respect for where they live and the home they’ve created for themself.
‘Walking around and muttering to yourself or your partner all the things you’d like to change to property is quite frankly rude and could really upset someone who’s taken years to create their perfect home environment.
‘Yes, you may not like their wallpaper, the colour they’ve decorated their bedroom or the kitchen layout, but these are all things that can be easily altered to fit in with what you want further down the line, and it’s never a good idea to annoy the seller of an in-demand property as ultimately it will be up to them who they choose to pass the property on to.’
6. Price negotiation during the viewing
Keep the viewing for just that – look at the property but don’t start haggling on price.
‘Leave negotiating or stating what you think the house is worth for another time, especially if the sellers are present in the property,’ Pete says.
‘Take the time to view other houses in the area with a similar price range before discussing price with any estate agent.
‘You’ll appreciate the fact that you went home to take in what you’ve just seen, and then you’ll be able to approach negotiations realistically with a clearer head.’
7. Comparing house prices in front of the seller
Another thing to avoid is discussing other properties you’ve seen and what you get there in front of the seller.
Pete says: ‘Imagine you’re selling a house and the viewers come in and tell you they’ve seen one down the street for cheaper, you wouldn’t be very impressed nor very favourable towards them.
‘Avoid discussing the other houses you’ve viewed and how you might get more for your money elsewhere. This is something else that can wait until you get home.’
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