If you are buying a house in winter which is vacant there are a few extra items which need to be checked, particularly if the water has been turned off.
If you are buying a house in winter and it is occupied then the chances are that it is being heated (at least in part) and the service installations are being used. But if you are buying a house in winter which is vacant there are a few extra items which need to be checked, particularly if the water has been turned off and the heating system drained down.
If the water has been turned off you will not be able to check the water pressure, working order of the fittings, watertightness of pipework or be able to check whether the drains are flowing freely. Ask the selling agent to arrange for the vendor to turn the water on so that these items can be checked by specialists before you agree to purchase the property.
When the water is turned on, arrange for a heating contractor (contact a Gas Safe Registered contractor if the heating is gas) to inspect and test the heating and hot water system. Have its age and condition checked and make sure the boiler is a sufficient size to adequately heat the property.
If the house is damp, check whether this is simply condensation due to the house not being adequately heated and ventilated, or whether there is rising dampness or penetrating dampness. If there is rising dampness or penetrating dampness find out the specific cause/s of the dampness and deal with the defect/s. Some replastering may be required if plasterwork has been affected by salts. See also Buying a 1930s House. Consider instructing a Chartered Surveyor to report on any dampness and/or condensation issues. This can be checked as part of a detailed house survey. Visit RICS Find A Surveyor to find a surveyor in your area.
Check whether and drains or gullies have become blocked by leaves. Check whether gutters need clearing to avoid overflowing and/or rain penetration which may lead to dampness internally and staining externally.
By asking a few questions in the early stages you will find out whether there is a long chain, whether a seller is trying to move quickly whether there have been any previous buyers who have pulled out of the purchase, and if so, find out the reason.
One way to avoid a delay when buying a house is to be aware of the most common causes of a delay, and be prepared for them.
Some of the most common things which may cause a delay when buying a house buying include:
Your buyer has a property to sell but does not have a buyer who is in a position to proceed. This may cause a delay in the sale of your property, and in turn the purchase of your next property. Before a seller accepts an offer, check that the buyer is in a position to proceed, ie, either has nothing to sell, such as a first time buyer, or has a buyer for their property who is also in a position to proceed.
The seller has not found another property to move to. If you find a property you would like to buy then check the seller’s position, ie, have they found a property to move to, or, check whether they are prepared to go ahead with the sale of their property and move into rented accommodation to reduce the length of the chain.
The seller bought the property under the government help to buy scheme and must follow their procedure before selling. If the seller bought the property under the Help to a Buy scheme there is a procedure to follow, which includes having a Valuation carried out by a Chartered Surveyor before the property can be sold.
The Valuer for the buyer’s mortgage company values the property less than the agreed purchase price (down values the property). If this happens and if both parties still wish to proceed then the buyer and seller may be able to renegotiate the purchase price at the amount at which the property has been valued by the mortgage Valuer.
The Valuer for the buyer’s mortgage company places a retention on the mortgage. If the buyer still wishes to proceed and has sufficient funds then it may be possible to renegotiate the price or carry out any works the subject of the retention.
The Valuer for the buyer’s mortgage company requests further investigations/specialist reports. If any further investigations/specialist reports are required then make sure these are obtained ASAP. Chase your buyer if necessary.
While some of these issues may be outside your control, there are some steps which can be taken and enquires which can be made at an early stage to reduce the risk of delays in the house buying process.