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.


House Viewing Checklist from

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.


Buying and Selling Property – Don’t be the one who holds things up

House Sales

Quick Sales Avoid Chains Collapsing

Check Your House Sale Progress

If you are thinking of buying and selling property in the UK you can help to ensure the process goes smoothly by making sure you are ready and staying on top of the process.

You cannot influence the whole chain but you can keep on top of the process by speaking to everyone involved on a regular basis and asking some searching questions about the status of all the links in the chain. A good agent will do this for you and they will report back to you.

Last year a survey by 1st Property Lawyers revealed that 29 per cent of deals fell through. To avoid your sale or purchase falling down make sure you are doing all you can to speed up the process.

The faster things move, the less likely it is that the sale will fall through.

6 Ways To Speed Up a Property Sale

  1. Get a mortgage approved – speak to a mortgage advisor and chose the mortgage product you want, then get yourselves approved so the mortgage doesn’t slow down the buying process.
  2. Have a solicitor in place to deal with the conveyancing, and provide them with the documents they need before you find your property so they are ready to act immediately.
  3. Respond quickly to all requests for paperwork, signatures and queries from your agent or solicitor as soon as you can.
  4. If you’re selling a property to buy another, make sure you have all guarantees up to date and to hand, if there is building work to do you can identify and price up work to save being held to ransom by a buyers survey report.
  5. If you need building work done on a house you are buying or selling you can use the Government -approved Trustmark register or find reliable, vetted and insured tradesmen through Checkatrade.
  6. Arrange to review the process once a week – your agent should be ringing you, but if they don’t, you should ring or email the agent and your solicitor to make sure everything is moving along as it should.

Quicker House Sales

If you want a quick sale of your property you can speak to your agent about open days, which generate a large amount of interest and prompt buyers to make an offer because they actually see the competition for a property.

Speak to one of our Sales Negotiators about your buying and selling options 0207 394 1160 or email us on

It’s Good News for House Prices in London so Buyers Need to be Ready to Move

London house prices are rising

The London Property Market is Buoyant

Help to Buy Set to End in 2016

The Government’s Help to Buy initiative has been responsible for increasing the number of house sales and housing prices. It has given a valuable helping hand to buyers who would not otherwise have qualified for a mortgage, and it has encouraged developers to build, knowing there is a market once they are completed.

Chief Executive Pete Redfern confirms the Help to Buy scheme has helped Taylor Wimpey start 2014 with a £1.2 billion pipeline of new orders: An increase of 27% year on year.

However the Help to Buy is scheduled to finish at the end of 2016, and while the Chancellor George Osborne has yet to comment on extending the programme the Bank of England opposes any extension of the scheme.

So if you can benefit from Help to Buy make sure you plan to move in the next two years to take advantage of the help on offer.

Housebuilding Initiatives

Market activity has increased dramatically, and with the second phase of the Help to Buy initiative now available to buyers, the issue in many areas is a lack of property for sale.

The Government is well aware of the link between a healthy housing market and economic recovery. The number of homes built in Britain last year was the highest since the start of the economic downturn in 2007. According to figures collected by The National House Building Council (NHBC) 133,670 homes were built in the UK in 2013, which is a 28% increase on 2012.

There have been signs of economic recovery for the UK as a whole, and of the housing market in particular. Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, has recently delivered the Bank’s revised economic forecast. He is projecting growth of 2.8% in 2014.

The latest Land Registry House Price Index figures (published December 2013) show an annual house price increase of 4.4 per cent, which takes the average property value in England and Wales to £167,353.

As a buyer it is often seen to be best to buy on a rising market rather than a falling one, so you do not run the risk of falling into negative equity. This gives you options when you do need to move, as you will be building up equity in your home as the market rises.

Interest Rates linked to Unemployment figures

Chancellor George Osbourne had said that he would not consider raising interest rates until unemployment fell below 7%. Figures released by the ONS, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show the number of people out of work fell by 167,000 to 2.32 million in the three months to November, which is 7.1%.

The chancellor’s original plan was to leave interest at the current low rate until 2016, and despite the sooner-than-expected drop in unemployment he may not make increases and risk slowing economic growth.

George Osbourne has not confirmed if or when he will raise interest rates, although if he does do so this will have an effect on mortgage payments, unless you have a fixed rate mortgage. Fixing your repayments on a mortgage will mean that your repayments will be higher than a flexible rate mortgage but you will be protected against any interest rate increases for the term of the mortgage rate deal.

Get Yourself Ready to Move

Mortgage approval rates are up 25% on a four year average according to Rightmove. In the nine months between January and September 2013 the rate of approvals increased to nearly 60,000. Rightmove attributes this increase to the Funding for Lending Scheme.

Funding for lending is a joint initiative between the Bank of England and HM Treasury to incentives banks and building societies to boost lending by reducing the cost of borrowing for lenders. Funding for lending was extended in April last year and will now run until January next year, although the focus on lending is moving away from mortgages and towards small businesses.

As a buyer you should take advantage of the increased mortgage approval rates. Seek advice from an independent mortgage advisor and shop around for the deal that will suit your circumstances.

Get your mortgage approved before you start looking for property to buy. That way you can be sure you are looking in the right price range. More importantly you can get the sale moving quickly once you have found the right property.

Search on our website for our range of properties for sale.

See ‘Don’t be the one who holds things up’ next week…

Housing Developers Needed as Property Demand Swells in the UK

Help to Buy Numbers Treble

According to a report from RICS (Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors) the Help to Buy numbers trebled in the last two months of 2013, so will demand outstrip supply in the UK this year?

A report by the NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) following their recent member’s survey states that during November its members sold an average of nine homes per estate agency branch, and on average two of those were Help to Buy purchasers.

The Help to Buy initiative launched at the beginning of October 2013 and we dealt with the different Government housing market schemes in our earlier blog post.

Nationally more than 2000 people took advantage of Help to Buy in the first month after launch – by December that figure nearly tripled to 6000. These new mortgages will equate to around £1 billion of new lending to homeowners who may have been deterred or prevented from borrowing because of the need for a lump sum for their deposit before a mortgage company will lend money.

David Cameron Comments on the Increased Demand for Housing

Prime Minister David Cameron hopes many more people will be persuaded to get on the property ladder in the New Year, giving the property market and the wider economy a welcome boost

RBS, HSBC, Lloyd’s, Virgin Money and Aldermore are already offering these mortgages but they will soon be joined by Barclay’s and Santander who plan to introduce their own Help to Buy products this month.

The property market will no doubt continue to heat up as we head towards one of the busiest times of year and Cameron observes:

“. . . too many people have found themselves frozen out of the market in recent years as a result of the size of the deposit required.

That is why as part of our long-term economic plan we introduced the Help to Buy scheme, so hard-working people with sufficient earnings can get on, fulfil their aspirations and enjoy the security of owning their own home.”

UK Economic Growth Relies on a Booming Property Market

The UK economy is so dependent on a raising property market that the Government is always under pressure to find ways to keep the figures rising upwards, but if the market gets too hot it could cause a bubble that would be very painful for our recovering economy if it should burst.

RICS senior economist Josh Miller warns:

“The pace of demand is exceeding that of supply in every part of the country. Clearly the momentum in the market is growing. Help to Buy, funding for lending, and the clear commitment to keep interest rates low for a long time, all three are having an effect.”

Build More Housing to Stabilise Economic Growth

The best way to stabilise the market is to increase supply so that it tracks this increased demand. Providing that buyers can afford to purchase we are unlikely to ever have a situation where available housing stock outstrips demand in London. Therefore building more housing is the answer to increased, gradual and sustainable economic growth in the Capital.

The Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds comments that:

“Any help for first-time buyers struggling to get on the property ladder is to be welcomed.

But rising demand for housing must be matched with rising supply if this scheme is to bring the cost of housing within the reach of low and middle income earners.”

It is certainly true that without a reliable release of new more affordable housing onto the market that the housing ‘bubble’ will stall and even burst, if house prices rise sharply in response to this increased demand. This could spell economic disaster for all of us.

Help to Buy Explained

7003Help to Buy

There are two strands to the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, Equity Loan and Mortgage Guarantee. Both are designed to help people to get on the property ladder, even if they only have access to a limited lump sum for a deposit.

Equity Loan 

The Equity loan scheme was released in April 2013 and applies to new build properties only. It is available to first-time buyers but also to those who are already homeowners and looking to move. The value of the house or apartment must be less than £600,000. While this may seem counter-intuitive it does help the housing market by enabling developers to sell properties of varying sizes and keep the housing market moving.

Buyers are required to raise 5% of the total capital as a deposit, the Government then subsidises up to 20% of the value as a further deposit on top of that raised by the buyer. This means that the buyer has access to a deposit of 25%, which in turn allows them to access better mortgage rates.

The really good part about the deal is the cost of the money that come s from the government. It is provided interest free for the first five years. The following year interest will be charged at 1.7% rising by a further 1% of that amount each year plus inflation every year after that.

Borrowers can repay the loan at any time, without penalty. The idea of this is to encourage buyers to pay off the initial loan and put the money back in the pot for the next wave of buyers.

One cautionary note about the scheme is that if you do not repay the government’s part of the loan before you come to sell the property, then the government retains a percentage stake in the property, equal to the amount of loan outstanding. This is calculated at the current market value of the house


You buy a property for £100,000
You raise £5000 as a deposit
The government pays a 20% deposit of £20,000

You pay nothing back to the government and

Five years later you sell the house for £120,000
he government reclaims £24,000

Obviously if the house were to double in value, then the 20% stake doubles to, so £20,000 becomes £40,000

Not all lenders are participating in the equity scheme but you can find out more about participating Help to Buy lenders here.

Mortgage Guarantee 

This is the second phase of Help to Buy, and it came into effect in October 2013. Buyers will still need to raise 5% of the mortgage value as a deposit. The government then guarantee a further 15% of the value to bring the total deposit up to 20%.

This is designed to give mortgage lenders the confidence to lend money to buyers who would otherwise only have a very small deposit. Apart from Natwest, Halifax and HSBC, most lenders are yet to release their rates for these Help to Buy Mortgages, and are not likely to publish details until early in the New Year.

The major difference for this scheme rather than the equity one above is that this arrangement is available for existing properties and is not restricted to new build. There is still a maximum price ceiling of £6000,000, and you cannot use it for a new home, under a shared ownership scheme or to get yourself an investment property.

The administration of the scheme will be very easy for buyers. Although you will have to sign some paperwork in relation to the scheme, most of the mechanics are dealt with by the lender and the government between themselves.

Anyone wishing to apply for either of these schemes will be subject to the same credit checks as they would with any other mortgage application. So you will have to prove you can afford the repayments and have an acceptable credit record.

­Click here to Find out more about Help To Buy.

Other useful sites include the Governments site:

Rightmove also have some really useful information: