Buying a House | House Viewing Checklist

Tips and Tricks For Viewing a Property

Buying a home is probably the most important financial decision that most of us will make in our lives.

House hunting can be an exhausting undertaking and decisions about which property to buy can be led as much from the heart as it is by the head.

As it can take a long time to find the property that is just right for you we thought we would share a handy viewing tool with you that we found on insurance company Aviva’s website to help with the process.

Aviva have worked with a group of surveyors to create an interactive house visual which features a useful viewing checklist to help you identify common signs of maintenance trouble when viewing a property.

The most useful bit, in our opinion is that they also show you the average cost to fix them.

Sometimes buyers are put off unnecessarily by the worry of what building works will cost, whereas in fact the agent has probably taken the costs into account when assessing the value of the property.

Aviva_House_Viewing_Checklist

House Viewing Checklist from Aviva.co.uk

Take your phone or tablet with you on the viewing and you can simply click on the selected areas of the house graphic to see tips to help you identify some of the most common problems.

You can also use your phone or tablet to take photos of the property (but do ask permission first).

Before you View Your Property Shortlist

Obviously you will have worked out your budget. Try to stick to this as this will allow you to factor in any maintenance work you might have to pay for.

You should get a mortgage in principle agreed so you are ready to move as soon as you find what you want.

Make a list of the points that are most important to you in the order of most to least important.

These could include
1.    The number of bedrooms
2.    The number of bathrooms
3.    Open plan or separate rooms for living/kitchen
4.    Garden
5.    Parking and Garage
6.    Budget for modernising and decorating

Add in anything else that is important to you and your family.

Using the Internet to Shortlist Property

Make use of agents websites and property portal sites like Zoopla and Rightmove to find out as much as you can about available properties in your area.

Most will have photographs, floorplans, online brochures and local information, and some have virtual tours to help with your shortlisting.

Discuss any missing information with the agent and ask about the sellers position and timescales.

Try to arrange a series of viewings over a day or two so you can more easily compare the properties on your list. Make sure though that you leave enough time to look properly, make notes and then have time to think about what you have seen (and discuss with a friend, partner or family member) to help ‘fix’ each property and its pros and cons in your mind, before moving onto the next appointment.

Once you have found the property of your dreams and made the decision to move check out our blog about buying and selling property – keeping your property sale moving forward.

Landlords – Deposit laws will bite you if you don’t do it right

Monopoly HouseLandlords Need to be Aware of Deposit Legislation

In Property Eye today Rosalind Renshaw reported an industry scandal about deposits. In fact four in every ten landlords who called Landlords Action’s legal helpline have broken the law by failing to protect tenants’ deposits.

Since 2007 Landlords and Letting Agents have been required by law to protect tenant’s deposits using a government-recognised scheme within 30 days of the tenancy start date. In addition there is a requirement to issue the tenant with Proscribed Information so that they know where their deposit is, and how to retrieve it at the end of the tenancy.

The Penalties for Not Protecting Tenants’ Deposits

Where the deposit is not protected Landlords can face penalties of up to three times the value of the deposit, which is then awarded to the tenant. Less well known is that landlords may still face penalties even if they used an agent, if their agent failed to comply with the legislation.

In addition to the possible fines, where a landlord wishes to gain possession of a property through Section 21 they will be unable to do so unless and until the deposit is legally protected. A court order for possession cannot be granted without proof that the deposit is protected in a recognised scheme, and may be refused if the deposit was not protected when it should have been.

The founder of Landlord Action, Paul Shamplina commented: “There are too many landlords that still do not know enough about being a landlord and their responsibilities.

Many are failing to comply with deposit protection rules and this is having a knock-on effect when landlords wish to evict through Section 21. The simple fact is, ignorance will not solve the problem.”

Landlord Action are seeing more landlords contacting them because of legal action being taken against them by tenants for not protecting the deposit. Tenants appear to be becoming increasingly aware of the legal situation where many landlords are still in the dark.

The problem is that many landlords will struggle to find a solicitor to act for them because the legislation is so straightforward, and there is no defence for not protecting the deposit. There is a really clear guideline for landlords about tenants’ deposits on the Government website.

The Property Eye article goes on to quote Eddie Hooker of MyDeposits who raises the point that not only should the deposit be protected but the tenant should be served with the Prescribed Information. He says “The majority of legal cases we see surround the incorrect issuing of the Prescribed Information, or failing to issue it at all.”

Is My Deposit Protected?

Riley Marshall ensures their clients stay within the law to protect their interests. However we are aware that some landlords do not know their obligations in regard to deposits. In fact we highlighted this issue in 2012 in our blog post – How Secure is Your Deposit? You can read that article here.

Don’t risk falling foul of the legislation on deposits. If you are unsure of the status of your deposit you can use this handy tool on the Shelter Website which will check whether your deposit is protected. You just need your postcode, tenancy start date and the amount of the deposit.