One of the hardest things about shopping for a new property is having a vision of how it ‘could’ look. When you browse through the pictures on property listings pages or take a tour around the building you’re only getting one version of a potential future.
Increasingly, people at the top end of the housing market are also being offered an enhanced vision of how the property could look. Figures from London estate agent Rokstone suggest that almost a third of people selling a luxury property now call on the services of stagers. These are professionals who can dress a home up specifically for sale, dealing with every detail from the furnishings to the sorts of books and magazines that need to be on the coffee table, selling a ‘lifestyle’ more than simply a property.
It’s easy to see why this trend – which is much more commonplace in America – has taken off in the UK and the work done by ‘stagers’ can be useful for a buyer, helping to see the potential of a property.
However, this is still not entirely your vision and tailored precisely to what you want. While this might be useful, you also have to look beyond the décor and see the fundamental strengths and weaknesses that a property.
Here’s what to look out for:
Direction: Which way is the house and garden facing? Getting plenty of light is important and easily forgotten. Most modern phones have a compass built in and, as the Home Owners Alliance points out, you should use one when you walk around.
Coverage: Can you get a mobile phone signal while you are in the property? If you need to work from home this could be really important. Also check on the quality of the internet provision.
Damp: Is there a tiny patch of mould in a corner or a little patch of flaky paintwork here or there? That’ll be damp and it’s not something you want in a good property purchase.
Out and in: You also want to circle the entire outside of the property. You’re looking for anything at all that looks loose or out of the ordinary.
Space: Normally you want a living room, kitchen and master bedroom that are all the biggest and best rooms of the house. It’s no good having a large office space but a pokey room to sleep in.
Layout: How are the kitchen and bathroom laid out? Importantly, how much wriggle room is there to change this if necessary. Would you need to install more power sockets or change the gas pipes drastically? All these things add to the cost and hassle of purchasing the property.
Storage: Alarm bells should be ringing if there is little storage space. If you have to start buying copious amount of furniture in which to store your clothes and belongings, then the space you are attracted to will soon diminish.
Be active: Don’t just walk through the rooms passively. Open a few cupboards, have a proper poke around. Run the taps to see if the water pressure is normal, have a play with the boiler to see if the radiators are working. This might not be particularly scientific but even a rank amateur will be able to spot problems with these key aspects.
Around and about: It’s not all about the property itself. What do the next door properties look like? What backs onto the home? What is the parking like? Where are the nearest shops, schools, doctors and pubs? Buying a property isn’t just about purchasing a building, it’s about investing in the location that that building sits within.
Article by guest author