Finding Property to Buy

Your first step, after ensuring finance is available, is to find the house or apartment you want to buy...

Viewing properties can be long and laborious if the buyer has not identified exactly what they want and where. The buyer should research the areas they are interested in, paying particular attention to the things that are most important to them, such as local amenities, transport links, schools, open space and council-tax bands.

Once an area has been found where the buyer may want to purchase, they can start viewing properties.

It's best to have a list of things to ask and look out for, to help identify properties that might be worth a second viewing.

Here are some things to look out for:

  • What state are the kitchen and bathroom fittings in? White bathroom suites and simple neutral kitchen units are ideal and could make it easier to sell in the future
  • Is there any evidence of damp
  • If it is a leasehold property, how many years are left on the lease? Lenders prefer the lease to have at least 65 years left to run
  • Does the property have gas central heating? If so, get the boiler checked.
  • What council-tax band is the property in?
  • Ask to see a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • Does the property have double glazing?
  • Is there an attic? If so, is it well insulated (check the EPC)
  • Check the state of the roof
  • Ask to see copies of recent utility bills - this should give you an idea of how energy efficient the property is (or check the EPC)
  • Ask what the neighbours are like and if there are any longstanding disputes.
  • Is the property near a busy main road?
  • Is the property on a well-lit street?
  • If the property is leasehold, are there any service charges?
  • Is the property near suitable transport links?

Leasehold, Freehold and Commonhold Properties

Freehold means the that the person owns the land and the property completely and is responsible for all maintenance and repairs.

Leasehold means the freeholder agrees to sell a lease on the property for a specified number of years. The lease will state who is responsible for maintaining the property and grounds. It may be necessary to pay ground rent and service charges. Leases (typically) are initially for 99 years or 999 years, with the length reducing each year. Recent laws have increased the rights of leaseholders, enabling them collectively either to buy the freehold or seek an extension to the original lease. The laws are complex and independent legal advice may be necessary. The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) website, is a good place to start.

Commonhold applies to flats. It means the person owns the freehold to the flat and shares the freehold of the communal areas and grounds with the other owners. Service charges or ground rent don't have to be paid, but the owner will have to contribute towards the commonhold association fund for things like maintenance and insurance.

Further Information

Information provided by James Trimble, Franchising Manager at Winkworth Franchising Ltd Tel: +44 (020) 8576 5580, e-mail |Website