Buying a property: websites not to miss

Most people buying a property will be familiar with websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla.  But much more information is needed before making a decision whether to buy a particular property or not.  How do you go about choosing a solicitor or surveyor?  How do you know whether there is asbestos in the property you plan to buy and what should you do about it?  What do you need to know if you are buying a property to let?  Where can you find information if the house you propose to buy is in a Conservation Area?  What should you do if bats are roosting in your new home?  How do you identify Japanese Knotweed?

General advice on buying and selling a house

Visit  for general advice on the house buying process.  This site includes information on applying for a mortgage, making an offer, appointing a solicitor, arranging a survey, arranging insurance, exchanging contracts and more.

For further general advice visit also

For advice on selling your home, including choosing between a local estate agent and an online estate agent, visit


Searching for a property and researching selling prices

Rightmove is a widely used website when buying a property.  It allows you to browse properties on the market and view photos and floor plans.  Rightmove also allows you to register for alerts for new properties coming onto the market in a chosen area.  There is also a facility under “House Prices” to check sold prices, which may be helpful for checking the selling prices of properties in your chosen area.  Rightmove has an App for phones and tablets and is useful for when you are on the go.  Visit

Zoopla is an alternative site for searching for properties on the market and for checking sold prices.  It also includes statistics on property values and trends in a chosen area.  Visit

If you are selling a property, don’t forget to check  for sold prices in your area.  If similar properties have sold recently it may indicate whether the asking price for your property is realistic.


Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Visit to find out which properties require an EPC and which properties are exempt.

Visit to find a Domestic Energy Assessor to produce an EPC before marketing your property.


Appointing a Surveyor when buying a property

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has a search facility to find a surveyor.  The site enables you to enter a town or postcode and a surveying service, eg, Residential Surveys, Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), RICS HomeBuyer Reports, etc.  To find a suitably qualified surveyor in your chosen area visit

For information on the benefits of having a survey when buying a property, and different types of surveys visit


Choosing a Solicitor

For information on choosing a solicitor visit  This site provides information on solicitors and conveyancers, gives an indication of typical fees and has a list of FAQs.



Any house built or refurbished before 2000 has the possibility of having asbestos containing materials (ACMs).  For information on where asbestos containing materials can be found in a property visit

If you are buying a property which contains asbestos containing materials visit



There has been an increased awareness of flooding in recent years.  For information on flood risk from rivers and sea, flood risk from surface water and flood risk from reservoirs visit



Many rural properties have bats.  If you are buying a property where bats are present visit  and


Buy to Let

If you are buying a property to let then it is essential to visit  for information on rights and responsibilities, tenancy deposits, houses in multiple occupation, etc.

For further information on becoming a landlord, appointing a letting agent, information on buy to let mortgages and insurance visit


Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings

If you are buying a property in a Conservation Area or a property which is Listed, visit the Historic England website at


Japanese Knotweed

For information on  identification of Japanese Knotweed, prevention of spread, and disposal, visit:


Mobile phone coverage

Not something to be overlooked.  Use this link to check the mobile phone coverage map.  You can enter a particular location (town or postcode) although some areas have more results than others.  Many service providers also produce their own data.


Broadband speed

Don’t forget to check the estimated broadband speed for a property before you decide to buy.  Use this link to enter your postcode or location to check any measured download and upload speeds.  Again, some areas have more results than others.


And of course, don’t forget to visit other informative posts on this site including:

Is a mortgage valuation the same as a survey?

Buy to let property:  choosing, managing, student lets and landlord’s responsibilities.

Instructing a surveyor when buying a house or flat. 

What should I do after having a survey?

Should I have a survey before selling my house?




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House viewing tips: things to consider when viewing a house

Many people enjoy viewing a house and picturing life in a new home.  But don’t make the mistake of arriving for a viewing thinking that this is the place for you.  Have an open mind.  Don’t just focus on the good points, consider the downsides too.  It is a good idea to:

1. View the house more than once and at different times of the day. In addition to viewing the property internally, drive past on different days of the week to get a feel for the area.  There may be certain times of the day or days of the week when traffic is busier, and this may not be obvious from a single viewing.

2. When viewing a house, take someone with you.  It’s worth having another opinion on the property.  There may be things you hadn’t spotted yourself.

3. After viewing a house, take a walk.  Walking gives a different view of the area.  Check out neighbouring properties to see whether they are well maintained.  You may even meet some of your prospective new neighbours.  Look out for any neighbouring land use or businesses which may affect the property.

4. When viewing ahouse, imagine what it will be like at other times of the year and in different weather conditions. For instance, a house on a north facing slope may have plenty of sun in the summer but may spend weeks in the shade in the winter. A house in an exposed position might take the brunt of the weather during a storm.  A house on a steep hill may be difficult to access during icy weather.

5. Don’t just view one property, even if you think the first property is perfect for your needs.  Viewing other properties may reinforce your decision to make an offer on a particular house, but similarly it may open your eyes to others which are more suitable.

6. Ask the vendor if you can take photographs.  Sometimes you might remember the positive features, but photos may remind you of other aspects which may easily be forgotten.

7. If you are buying a property to let, see “Buying a buy to let property”.

Above all, don’t rush into making a decision.  Don’t be pressured by the estate agent or anyone else even if there are other potential buyers on the scene.  Buying the wrong property will be an expensive mistake.  Make sure you have considered all important issues and be fully aware what you are taking on before exchange of contracts.  If you are unsure about the condition of the house or want further information on any defects then instruct a surveyor.

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Do I need a survey on a buy to let property?

Do I need a survey on a buy to let property?

In some ways it is even more important to have a survey on a buy to let property than one you plan to live in yourself.  If you live in a property yourself you will note whether any maintenance works need attending to.  If a property is let then you will be relying on the tenant to inform you if any works need attending to.  If you employ the services of a letting agent, while they may carry out periodic checks they may not be aware of repairs being required unless the tenant informs them.  Some tenants will bring any necessary repairs to your attention but others may not.  It is not a risk worth taking.

When instructing a surveyor to carry out a survey on a buy to let property it is a good idea to let them know that you plan to let the property rather than live there yourself.  This can then be considered during the inspection.

A survey should reveal whether anything needs attending to before a tenant moves into the property.  In most cases it will be necessary to carry out a test on the electrical installation and to service any gas appliances, such as boilers and gas fires.

The survey report will also let you know if there are any other potential hazards including:

  1. Dangerous wiring.
  2. Low level glazing and/or large panes of glass which are not safety glass.
  3. Large opening windows without opening restrictors.
  4. Windows to upper floors which do not allow escape or rescue in the event of a fire.
  5. Large gaps to balustrades.
  6. Lack of a handrail to staircases.
  7. Lack of smoke detectors.
  8. Infilled/capped chimneys or flues. A tenant must be aware that any disused chimneys/flues should not be used.
  9. Loose tiles.
  10. Inadequate fire door (or lack of a fire door) between the dwelling and any integral garage.

And finally, don’t forget to forward a copy of the report to your solicitor and to arrange buildings insurance.


buying and selling a house

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Buy to let property:  choosing, managing, student lets and landlord’s responsibilities


There has been an increase in the purchase of buy to let property over the decades as some people see this as a preferred form of investment.  However, it is important to be fully aware of a landlord’s responsibilities to ensure the safety of tenants and ensure all legal responsibilities are being met.

Choosing a Buy to Let Property

Choosing a buy to let property is not the same as choosing a property to live in yourself.  You may wish to live in an old property and take your time refurbishing to your taste but this may not be practical for a buy to let property.  A buy to let property must be in good order before a tenant can move in.

When choosing a property for buy to let, consider the following:

  • Ease of maintenance. Many landlords find a modern property is the most suitable.
  • Locations where there is an established demand for properties to rent.
  • Proximity to amenities such as shops, schools, etc.
  • Ease of access and parking.
  • For flats, consider any restrictions the lease may impose on letting. Also, repairs  are likely to need the approval of the Management  Company, whereas with a house any external  repairs are likely to be easier to arrange.
  • Whether you would prefer to let to working people or students.

Have a survey to establish the condition of the property.  Some works may be essential before a tenant can move in particularly if any hazards are identified.  Works may be required including:

  • Upgrading wiring.
  • Provision of opening restrictors to large opening windows
  • Provision of a safety film/safety glass to large panes of low level glazing (unless they are of safety glass).
  • Works in respect of fire protection and means of escape including the provision of smoke alarms, fire doors where necessary, (eg, for a door opening directly from the dwelling into the garage), etc.
  • Works to any leaning/unstable garden walls.
  • Works to uneven pavings.

The survey will also help you plan a budget for future repairs.

Letting to students

Houses or flats with at least three letable bedrooms in student areas, close to a university, lend themselves to student accommodation.  One or more of the letable rooms may be a ground floor reception room.  An additional bathroom/shower room and WC are an advantage in shared houses and many students now prefer an en suite.

It is a good idea to contact the university accommodation service to arrange to have your property included on their list of available student accommodation.  You may also choose to register with a local letting agency or advertise the property yourself.

Advantages of letting to students include:

  1. There is usually a high demand for accommodation in student areas close to universities.
  2. Most student letting contracts will be for the academic year. If a student moves out during the year then they are still contracted to pay the rent until the end of the agreement.  This typically means a change of tenant only once a year with fewer months without rent.
  3. Some landlords charge a retainer, eg, half rent for unoccupied periods such as during the summer months. This increases overall income during the year.
  4. Student housing generally offers a higher income than a property let to an individual, couple or family, particularly if one or more of the reception rooms are let as bedrooms.
  5. Many student rents will be partly funded by student loans and/or parent top-ups so there is less chance of the rent not being paid to the landlord. A parent of each student should act as guarantor for each individual student to ensure that rent will be paid.

Disadvantage of letting to students include:

  1. Most student houses will need furniture and furnishings including beds, wardrobes, desks, chairs, table, sofa, carpets and curtains.  This will need to have appropriate fire resistance.
  2. Many student houses will need electrical items such as cooker, washing machine, dryer, fridge, freezer, microwave, vacuum cleaner, lamps,   These will need to be safe to use and should be checked regularly.
  3. Student houses generally suffer more wear and tear and damage than houses let to working people.
  4. Most student houses will require more thorough cleaning at the end of the tenancy and this may involve additional costs.

Managing a Buy to Let Property

Many privately let properties are let on an Assured  Shorthold Tenancy  Agreement.   Your letting agent or solicitor can advise on the most suitable agreement.   If rooms are let separately, eg, to students, then consider a joint  tenancy agreement.   In some instances a licence may be required  from the Local  Authority.   Visit

Give consideration to any restrictions you might want to place such as non-smokers, no pets, etc.  

Many private landlords choose to employ an agent to manage the property on their behalf instead of managing it themselves.  The agent will  be responsible for advertising, vetting tenants, collecting rent and checking the property at the end of the tenancy.  This frees up the landlord’s time.  It also leaves management of the property in the hands of an agent with experience in dealing with such matters.  Some letting agents may offer different levels of service enabling you to choose the level of service which meets your needs and falls within your budget.

For general information on managing a buy to let property visit


Buy to Let Responsibilities

As a landlord you have certain responsibilities.  You must:

  • Have gas appliances/flues checked every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • Have the electrical installation checked to make sure it is safe and have any recommended works undertaken before the tenant moves in.
  • If the property is furnished then make sure any furniture (and furnishings if provided) have the appropriate fire resistance.
  • Provide smoke alarms, and in some instances, carbon monoxide detectors.
  • If any appliances are provided, eg, cookers, microwaves, irons, etc, then ensure they are safe to use and have them checked regularly.

You must also hold any deposit from the tenant in an approved deposit scheme.  Visit

Don’t forget to check that your proposed tenant has a right to rent.   Visit

For further information visit 

And finally, remember to arrange buildings insurance.

Insurance of Buy to Let Properties

As landlord, you will be responsible for insuring the building and also any contents which you have provided.  The tenant will be responsible for the insurance of their own belongings.

Inform your insurer that the property is tenanted right from the start to make sure your insurance is valid.   Check whether there are any restrictions on the policy, eg if there is a maximum amount of time the property can be vacant as some insurers  have a time limit.  Check whether the policy gives additional cover, eg, landlords  liability, and, possibly also legal expenses which may be useful if any problems arise with the tenancy.

Financial Issues for Buy to Let Properties

This article deals with choosing and managing a buy to let property.  It does not offer any information on financial issues.  However, in brief, there are a number of financial issues to consider which require investigation and consideration before buying a buy to let property, including:

  • How you plan to finance the property, such as a cash purchase, buy to let mortgage or remortgaging your current property to finance the purchase.
  • Allow for periods when the property might be vacant. It is possible there may be a gap between one tenant moving out and another moving in.  If you have taken out a mortgage this will still have to be paid even during months with no rental income.
  • Check current Stamp Duty for a second home. This often differs from the Stamp Duty on a main residence and varies from time to time.
  • If you choose to sell the property check your liability to Capital Gains Tax.


If you plan to purchase a buy to let property, whether for working people or students, whether let privately or through an agent, then this will require careful financial planning and full consideration.  In general, buy to let properties should be viewed as a long term investment and can be a successful form of investment if chosen and managed properly.

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