Life in your new property: Keep the magic alive!
Returning that pair of jeans that you just ‘couldn’t live without’ an hour ago in the shop changing room – we’ve all been there. But a property doesn’t come with a receipt, and according to recent research carried out by AA home insurance, 20 percent of people become disenchanted with their property shortly after moving in.
Startling? Not really, once you give it some thought.
The reason people start to ‘like their property less’ is simple. When in the primary stages of house hunting people tend to see any house as their new opportunity or life stage. Desperation is often a factor especially for those making their first step onto the property ladder, and affordability is frequently the main priority. Once moved in, cracks (literally) begin to show and the love affair between the buyer and their new home is very short lived.
Then there’s the famous ‘location, location, location’ mantra, which people get all too caught up in – ending up stuck in their dream neighbourhood with the right postcode but a wrong and deeply unsuitable property.
Finally there’s the issue of nuisance neighbours; disputes and arguments can make a neighbourhood living situation unbearable.
So how do you make sure the property you make an offer on is one you’ll be happy in for good?
The main thing to remember is that a property is essentially bricks and mortar, not your home yet. Consequently, rather than visiting on a beautiful sunny day and going gaga over the pristinely kept lawn and delightful shrubbery through your rose-tinted ray bans, make sure you have your sensible sun-hat on, too.
One word: House surveys. These are a must, and are carried out by a surveyor who is either a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or from the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA). There are three types, ‘Condition Report’, ‘Homebuyers Report’ and ‘Buildings Survey’, each more detailed than the next. For a modern house in reasonable condition, a condition report should suffice in reassuring a buyer who just wants to check that everything is ok. Significant issues will be highlighted without much detail and traffic light ratings will be given for the condition of each part of the property, giving buyers the green light to go ahead and make that offer. For older, more run-down properties a building survey is worth doing.
Although these surveys will be costly in the short term, they’re likely to save you a lot of money in the future. Plus, once you know exactly what maintenance may be required over the span of the properties life, you can use this as a bargaining tool when negotiating down the asking price.
Don’t neglect the electrics and plumbing either – something that looks good as new from the outside could in fact be on its last legs – so use a gas safe engineer or electrician from NAPIT to give your potential new home the once over. It will cost you a few hundred pounds, but could save you thousands and a whole lot of aggravation.
Secondly, ensure you get a feel for the neighbourhood before moving in. It’s perfectly acceptable to knock on a few doors, talk to people in the local shop and get to know prospective neighbours. Go down to the local pub or pick up a local paper to get a feel for the areas strengths and weaknesses before you move in – after all, a property is one of the biggest commitments you will ever make – so do your research.
Last but not least, tired homes can be spruced up effortlessly with a lick of paint or a cleverly placed ornament. You can easily make a house feel more like a home with a little bit of decorating, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. If your budget can’t stretch to a new dining table, then a tablecloth can make all the difference, or simply lay a brand spanking new throw over your timeworn couch – you get the idea.
If more space is what you’re after, perhaps due to additions to the family or new pets, then a little bit of effort to de-clutter is all it takes. Collect up unwanted ornaments and furniture and store them in the loft, or simply spend an evening re-organising the room until you’re happy.
A bit of forward planning and forecast could be the difference between a happy home and a thoroughly miserable one – surely the extra effort is well worth it?!