10 Things to consider when buying your first property

Buying your first property and taking that first step on the property ladder can be extremely exhilarating but also intimidating. We all recognize that buying a house is the largest purchase we will make in our lifetimes and the decision to take that huge step should not be taken carelessly. So to make things that bit easier for you, we have compiled a list of matters that you should take into consideration when buying your first home.


1. Is buying a property the right decision?

Prior to you proceeding, and committing to any monetary dealings, make certain you have weighed up the pros and cons of buying a property and renting one.

Buying a property is, potentially, a healthier long-term investment but you have to make sure that you have cautiously measured all of the expenses (even the hidden ones!) involved in buying a home and make sure you are in a comfy financial position to be able to do so.

2. Do you have enough money for it?

Different in days gone by, these days you are expected to obtain a 5% – 10% deposit to put down on purchasing your first home. With the average deposit being paid by first time buyers considerably more than it used to be, you must make sure that you have saved sufficient funds to get you past the opening hurdle.

3. Will you be able to get a mortgage?

Generally mortgage lenders base their decision on whether to loan you the funds to buy a house on your earnings, or your joint earnings if you are buying the house with, for example, your partner. Carry out some research first to make sure that you earn enough to meet the criteria for the mortgage amount you need. Finding out how much you are likely to be able to borrow, will deem what type of property you will sensibly be able to afford. This is a level-headed thing to do to shun the dissatisfaction of discovering you cannot in fact afford the dream home you have set your heart on!

4. Familiarise yourself with hidden costs

Do not be fooled into thinking that the lone cost involved in purchasing a house is the funds you have saved for the deposit. Unfortunately, there are plenty of additional expenses involved in the process of moving house counting stamp duty, legal fees, insurance costs, land registry fees, and removal fees. Familiarise yourself with these fees and make sure they have a position in your budget.

5. Do your research

Before you go forward and make an offer on a house, keep in mind the enormous commitment you are about to make so make sure you have completed your research into the property and the location in which you are buying. You can find out what to look for when viewing a property by visiting our blog post, 10 Things to look for when viewing a property. Don’t hurry into putting down a deposit on the first house you see, take the time to look at heaps of properties so that you find the one that’s right for you; if you are too busy with the kids, work or your jet set lifestyle, then find a good agent to do the leg work for you.

6. Question the sellers

What glitches are they conscious of that the house had previously – even if they’ve been fixed? An ice dam five years ago may have instigated water damage that has since been mended. But it’s good to know that the house may be prone to ice dams so you can take precautionary actions rather than find out the hard way. Learning the basement flooding was resolved by building up the landscaping in a specific area will stop you from leveling the ground there in future years. For more information on selling do’s and don’t, take a look at this…  (Click)

7. Ask for utility bills

You may admire the Cape Cod architectural elegance or the high ceilings and walls of glass in a contemporary home – but those winter heating and summer cooling bills may thrust your monthly expenditures past affordable. Ditto for the water bills you’ll pay to uphold an immaculate landscape.

8. Pay close attention to taxes

Don’t just ask what the seller’s most recent tax bill was; ask what numerous recent tax bills have been. In certain areas, houses are re-appraised and taxed at higher rates often. That fantastic deal and decent investment may not appear quite so outstanding if the property taxes rocket year after year. Again, look at newspaper archives or talk to your Realtor about the way taxes are used in this area. In certain cities, schools are considerably funded through property taxes – which means you can count on yours increasing frequently. For more information on buying do’s and don’t, take a look at this… (Click)

9. Use the right property finder

Gone are the days when looking into estate agents’ windows were the solitary way to see how much people were selling a house for.
There’s an overabundance of property search sites out there. Remember asking prices are frequently madly optimistic, presenting what the seller wishes for the property, not what they’ll get.

Property Property Property

Property Property Property lets you compare homes on the market, including pictures, asking prices, descriptions and floor plans. Go to the Property Property Property website and search for an area and click on a property for details or register for instant alerts.

10. Get home insurance quotes before buying

Always get home insurance quotes before you exchange contracts to guarantee appropriate cover’s obtainable. This might flag up problems, for example, if the property’s in a flood-risk area. Comparison website like confused.com offers a good way to get the best price on the market.

Don’t think you need use your mortgage provider’s cover. If you pay for buildings and/or contents insurance together with your mortgage, it’s frequently a dreadful price.
No one home insurer’s cheapest, so the key’s capturing as many quotes as possible.


Is Bromley the new Chelsea?

Chelsea has always been known as an affluent area of central London. With wedding cake mansions and beautifully designed surroundings, this stunning area is an upmarket neighborhood where the wealthy reside. With the reality TV show, Made in Chelsea, Chelsea is now not only known in the UK but has actually been compared to the likes of New York’s Upper East Side and Los Angeles’ Beverly Hills. But is there a new area that can bump Chelsea out of the spotlight?

Bromley might just be that very thing, with the Experian Property Check referring to it one of the best places to live in London.
The borough was named as the best place to live if you have young children; scoring highly for the quality of its shops, schools and health facilities.
The survey also places Bromley second out of the top ten London boroughs as a place to live for those whose children have flown the nest and fourth for families with older children.

The results reported late last year in the Evening Standards were generated from more than 40 sets of data, ranging from how well children do at local schools, crime rates, air quality, career opportunities, as well as shops and nightlife.

Cllr Stephen Carr, Leader of Bromley Council said: “I am delighted to hear that Bromley has been judged among the top ten best London boroughs in which to live. This is very good news and confirms what we have long thought to be true and totally vindicates our Building a Better Bromley agenda: our borough is a fantastic place to live and work. Bromley has highly performing schools and good shopping centres in our high streets coupled with great restaurants, bars, live theatre and leisure facilities along with many local open spaces and sporting facilities. I know I speak for many of our residents when I say that we are proud to call Bromley borough our home. However, we are not resting on our laurels, but we continue to build on the great quality of life in the borough through new investment for our town centres in Bromley, Orpington and Beckenham.”

If you are suffering from rising rents in the central London area, then Bromley might just be your ideal move-to area. With the equally gorgeous surroundings as Chelsea, Bromley offers affordable neighborhoods and good state schools. You can find the primary schools admission page by clicking here. It will show the catchment areas of the last 3 years and if the schools were oversubscribed or not.

On top of all that, you can be assured that your property and family will be residing in a safe area. Bromley’s community champions were thanked and honored for their selfless contribution to the borough at the Safer Bromley Awards on Thursday 14th March.

Winners in the Community Champions category included a local hero who came to the aid of a church community threatened by an armed intruder, and a member of the community who has funded police transport and a school crossing patrol and volunteers with Victim Support and the Met Police.

So to come back to the question, is Bromley the new Chelsea? Well what with Chelsea’s lush history and heritage, it will be one spotlight that will be hard to take. But being described by some as a more ‘old-school’ area, Chelsea may have seen the last of their glory days… only time will tell.

10 Things to look out for when viewing a property

If you’re in danger of being swept away by the attractions of a pretty bungalow or a Georgian gem, slow down. Try to look objectively at the article of your liking, try not to treat the house as a home but just as a building that needs inspecting. Except if you have a deep wallet, you will want to be watchful of any expenditure involved in getting your fantasy home up to a satisfactory standard.

Here are several of things to lookout for when viewing a property:

1. Shoddy roof

Before you go inside a property, make sure to take a look at the roof as generally people have a tendency to overlook this very important part. Even though you might not be able to see the whole roof, you should be able to get an idea of what condition it is in. Look out for any absent, slipped, or broken roof tiles as this might be a sign that the roof may need repairing.

If the roof on the property looks like it needs replacing quickly then you may want to re-think putting an offer in as fitting a new roof can be a chaotic and troublesome process, and can furthermore be fairly expensive.

2. Cracked walls

Another major important factor to check for when viewing a property is cracks in the walls. Cracks may be caused by subsidence, a word that strikes fear into the hearts of homeowners. It raises the ghastly vision of underpinning, or even, in extreme cases, deepening or replacing foundations. 

However, cracks do not inevitably indicate subsidence. They may likewise be caused by, for example, fluctuations in temperature or humidity. Only a surveyor can classify with certainty the reason of a crack. Subsidence cracks are typically 1mm or more in width, and they are often wider at the top than at the bottom, so question anything that matches this description.

3. Dodgy drains and sewers

Defective drains and sewers can lead to additional complications, including subsidence.

While newer fittings have plastic pipes, numerous older ones have clay pipes. The latter are susceptible to damage by tree roots, which grow through the pipe walls and cause blockages. Be watchful for overflowing manhole covers or drain covers, and nasty odours.

4. Substandard electrics

Electrical installations that do not meet today’s standards are common in older homes. When you view a property, ask when it was last rewired and who carried out the work.

Because much of the wiring will be concealed below floors and behind skirting boards, it may be difficult to see certain things, but if plugs are the old-fashioned two-pronged variation (which do still exist), or any visible wiring appears damaged, rewiring will surely be essential.

5. Plumbing problems

Aging plumbing can be loud. In the poorest circumstance, it may not work correctly.

Several glitches are slight and easy to spot, such as dripping taps and blocked sinks. Take a look at pipework, tanks and cylinders if you can. Ask what work has been done on the plumbing, by whom, and at what time.

Older properties frequently do not have the amount of bathrooms today’s buyer demands. To get an impression of how stress-free (or otherwise) it would be to connect an additional bathroom, check where the water source and waste pipes run.

6. Damp

Rising damp, the utmost common kind is triggered by dampness from the ground drifting up through the walls. Spoiled plaster and discolored walls frequently shows its presence.

Most homes have a damp proof development that protects against rising damp. In an older structure, though, the development may no longer be operative. A very old property may not have a damp proof development at all; however it is typically possible to fit one.

Penetrating damp is triggered by dampness coming through the roof or walls, typically as the consequence of damage. The precise reason of the problem can be hard to recognize, and therefore hard to repair.

If there is reason for worry, your surveyor ought to mention ordering a damp report, which professional damp businesses typically assume, free of charge, as part of their quotation system.

7. Fungal decay and woodworm

Fungal decay (dry rot and wet rot), the consequence of damp, can cause grim difficulties if left untreated. As it is frequently existent in woodwork that has been decorated, it can be problematic to spot.

Minute holes in woodwork may be indication of an old woodworm bout that has previously been treated. New movement is typically shown by the attendance of a fine powder, formed by feeding larvae.

If there is a present problem, it can be dealt with effectively, but, depending on the amount of the work required, you will perhaps not be able to live in the property while it is carried out, or for some weeks later.

Businesses that treat damp typically likewise cover timber reports and treatments.

8. Lack of energy efficiency

Older homes are unlikely to be as energy efficient as ones constructed to present stipulations, and can so cost extra to run, as well as being less environmentally friendly.

Insulation may well be lacking. Though, an attic can be insulated fairly inexpensively and effortlessly, and cavity walls (usual in properties built post-1930) can also be insulated.

Another common problem is an out-of-date, or tired, heating system. You may need to budget for replacing the boiler, or even the whole system.

Windows may not be double glazed. If, moreover, they are in poor form, it may be sensible to contemplate replacing them. Replacement windows ought to be in keeping with the property, in style and materials, or they may lessen from its worth. In certain cases, secondary glazing may be better.

9. View at different times of day

View the property three times at different times of the day. Daylight makes seeing faults easier, but the beating music which will make your life torturous may not begin until the neighbors return from work.

10. Look at the neighborhood

Yes, your house is vital, but the security, position, and nearness to numerous facilities must be well-thought-out as well. Research neighboring schools if you have children, as well as travel time to work, stores, and how your neighborhood is arranged. Feel just as contented with your neighborhood as your house.

Can I get a 95% Mortgage

Budget March 2013 confirms Yes you can.

£130billion to help First Time buyers aswell as existing home owners. Buyers will benefit from state-backed mortgages

Families with 5% deposit will get 20% extra from government

People who earn enough to afford repayments will get deal underwritten

A government-backed mortgage guarantee scheme to the value of £130billion will see the market flooded with 500,000 cheap loans.

The Government is to subsidise deposits and provide state backing for loans to help homebuyers get on the property ladder or move up.

The Help to Buy scheme will offer loans to top up the deposits of those buying newly built properties worth up to £600,000 who can only put up 5 per cent of the loan themselves.

The Treasury will add an extra 20 per cent of the house value to enable them to get a mortgage. The first five years of the loan will be interest free. After that it will attract a 1.75 per cent payment, which will rise annually by inflation plus 1 per cent.

Borrowers will be able to apply from April 1 and be able to repay the loan at any point. This part of the scheme is worth £3.5billion.

The second, bigger, part – available from next January – will guarantee £130billion of mortgages on any property, not just newbuild, worth up to £600,000.

The scheme will be available for mortgages of between 80 per cent and 95 per cent of the home value.

So for someone able to muster a 5 per cent deposit, the Government would put in 15 per cent, to enable the homebuyer to access an 80 per cent mortgage loan.

If a borrower’s property is repossessed, the Government will bear a proportion of the losses, with the lender taking the rest.

The Treasury says all major lenders have agreed to take part in the scheme.

On top of this, the Chancellor announced that more Funding for Lending cash may be made available to the banks, which could also push rates down lower.

Changes to the Bank of England’s remit, meanwhile, could allow it to give guarantees to borrowers that interest rates would be low for years to come.

Last night Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander refused to say what would happen if property prices collapse, though he admitted there were ‘risks’ with the scheme.

‘What we are doing is supporting housebuilders to build more homes, support those hundreds of thousands of people who can afford mortgage repayments to buy a home but not the deposit,’ he said.

The scheme, which will run for three years, can only be extended if the Bank of England agrees.

Ashley Hollinshead, of accountants Deloitte, said: ‘This move is interesting as for the first time it attacks every level of the housing ladder, from first-time buyers to those moving in to a bigger family home.

‘The guarantee could prove extremely effective as it will provide banks with confidence that is desperately needed.’

David Hollingworth, of brokers London & Country, said: ‘If you are looking to buy a house then there really could not have been a bigger carrot waved by the Government.’

How to deal with noisy neighbours

Struggling to sleep at night because next door like to have 12-hour rave parties in the wee hours of the morning? Rather than losing your cool, take a look at these tips to help you resolve the conflict.

While most people were ringing in the New Year for 2013, I was pounding my fist against my bedroom wall and wishing unpleasant things on my neighbours. A group of students moved in next door and host monthly parties that start at around 11pm and don’t end until 11am the next day. As can be expected, this results in very little sleep and a lot of frustration. So what’s the best way to deal with this without creating a ‘neighbours from hell’ scenario?

Your rights with noisy neighbours

According to the Noise Act 1996, any excessive noise between 11pm and 7am the next day are deemed to be causing a nuisance. The definition of ‘excessive noise’ is a bit hazy, so there is no hard and fast rule for this. As a general guide, any noise above 85 decibels (dB) is considered to be the level of noise that can cause damage after prolonged exposure, and anything above 50 dB at night could be considered noise pollution.

Don’t try to live with it, and don’t reciprocate

Trust me on this one – don’t try to live with the noise, because it won’t get easier. If you’re expecting the constant thrum of dubstep to become part of the background noise, you’ll be disappointed. Nip it in the bud as soon as it happens, otherwise you’ll only get angrier and more frustrated every time it occurs.

On the same note, don’t try to reciprocate their actions e.g. hammering the wall in annoyance, turning your music up even louder or deliberately making more noise than they are (I’ve been guilty of all three). This will only escalate things further, so don’t be tempted to vent your frustration elsewhere. Hammering the wall is also likely to leave a dent, leading to an expensive home insurance claim and a very awkward conversation with your landlord. Don’t try that.

Talk to them, but time it well

If you’re anything like me, telling your neighbours that they’re being too loud and rowdy is just about the most uncomfortable thing you can think of. That being said, about a third of all people with noisy neighbours found that actually communicating the problem to them resolved the issue straight away, according to the HomeOwners Alliance. If face-to-face interaction fills you with dread (as it does me), then leave them a polite note to explain the facts.

Timing is essential for this to be most effective. You don’t want to storm into a house full of drunken revellers during a party and start shouting at them; that’ll only lead to a bad situation. You’re better off catching them when they’re having a quiet moment so you can have a word without losing your temper.

Reporting noise pollution

This may vary depending on your local council, so check with them to ensure you’re following the best method. You can find your local authority on the Directgov website.

It’s the responsibility of your local authority to investigate any instances of noise pollution (this comes under ‘statutory nuisance’, which also covers light pollution, smoke and insect infestations). The government’s definition of what counts as a ‘statutory nuisance’ is anything that is ‘unreasonably interfering with the use or enjoyment of your premises’. So, if your next door neighbours are throwing wheelie bins at one another at 4am (this was the same New Year’s party that kept me awake all night) you’ll have good reason to initiate a complaint.

Depending on your local council, you might be provided with an email address, phone number or online form to register your complaint. Remember to stick to the facts and not to let your frustration influence what you say.

What happens next?

The noise pollution officer will visit the house and issue a ‘noise abatement’ order. This basically tells them to pipe down or they’ll face legal action. If they break this order, the noise officer is within their rights to confiscate any noise making equipment (stereos, TVs, or in my case, a set of professional, festival grade amplifiers that were brought in by a DJ) and fine them up to £5,000.

Suggest that your neighbours let you know in advance if they’re planning on having a get together. That way you can make plans to be away or be out while they’re making their noise. This shouldn’t mean that you’re forced to leave your home whenever your neighbours get a bit loud, but knowing in advance will ease the situation and allow you to keep your options open.

If things get out of hand …

Sometimes it’s not just noise that’s the problem. Where there’s a party, there’s usually alcohol, and that can bring with it a whole host of problems. If you hear any arguments or see the beginnings of a fight breaking out, then call the police straight away. If the party spills out into the street and the revellers are generally being disorderly, then that counts as a breach of the peace, and you should also call the police to deal with that.

Dealing with noisy neighbours in this way means that you’ll be able to deal with the problem quickly, maintain the moral high ground and minimise any conflict between you and your neighbours. Have a good night’s sleep!

How have you dealt with your noisy neighbours? Let me know in the comments below!

is the lifestyle blogger for home insurance comparison site Confused.com. He keeps a pair of noise cancelling headphones and a copy of Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell by his bedside table ready for whenever next door have a party.