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 https://www.which.co.uk/money/mortgages-and-property/first-time-buyers/buying-a-home/how-to-buy-a-house-alm0r9l4yf5x  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 https://www.money.co.uk/guides/how-to-buy-a-house.htm

For advice on selling your home, including choosing between a local estate agent and an online estate agent, visit  http://www.rics.org/uk/knowledge/consumer-guides/selling-your-home/

 

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  https://www.rightmove.co.uk/

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  http://www.zoopla.co.uk/

If you are selling a property, don’t forget to check www.nethouseprices.com  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  https://www.gov.uk/buy-sell-your-home/energy-performance-certificates to find out which properties require an EPC and which properties are exempt.

Visit https://www.epcregister.com/searchAssessor.html 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  https://www.ricsfirms.com/

For information on the benefits of having a survey when buying a property, and different types of surveys visit  http://www.rics.org/uk/knowledge/consumer-guides/home-surveys/

 

Choosing a Solicitor

For information on choosing a solicitor visit  https://www.which.co.uk/conveyancing/conveyancing-process/england-and-wales/find-a-solicitor/  This site provides information on solicitors and conveyancers, gives an indication of typical fees and has a list of FAQs.

 

Asbestos

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  http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/building.htm

If you are buying a property which contains asbestos containing materials visit  http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/member-of-public.htm

 

Flooding

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

https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/long-term-flood-risk/map

 

Bats

Many rural properties have bats.  If you are buying a property where bats are present visit http://www.bats.org.uk/  and http://www.bats.org.uk/data/files/BatsandBuildings_2012.pdf

 

Buy to Let

If you are buying a property to let then it is essential to visit https://www.gov.uk/private-renting/  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  https://www.which.co.uk/money/mortgages-and-property/buy-to-let

 

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  https://historicengland.org.uk/advice/your-home/owning-historic-property/conservation-area/

 

Japanese Knotweed

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

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prevent-japanese-knotweed-from-spreading

 

Mobile phone coverage

https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/mobile-phone-providers/article/mobile-phone-coverage-map

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. https://www.uswitch.com/broadband/speedtest/streetstats/

 

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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Buying a house in a rural area – services, bats, agricultural ties

Buying a house in a rural area has many attractions including cleaner air and a slower pace of life.  However, there are a number of issues which should be considered especially for those moving from a town or city.

Points to consider when buying a house in a rural area:

  1. Services – check which mains services are connected to the property.  While most properties will have mains electricity and water, not all homes are connected to mains gas.  Many properties in rural areas have a private drainage system.  Ask the vendor what services are connected to the property and also what services are available in the area, eg, the property may not be connected to mains gas but there may be mains gas nearby.  If the property has private drainage then ask the vendor for details such as whether there is a mini sewerage treatment system, septic tank, soakaway, etc.  Check when any septic tank was last emptied and which company usually carries this out.  See Instructing a Surveyor

 

  1. Bats – bats are common in rural properties. They often nest in outbuildings and/or the roof or cavity walls of the house itself.  If you live in a house with bats it may not be obvious but they can be detected by the presence of droppings.  Bats are protected and there are controls on carrying out works on properties with bats.  Ask the vendors whether they are aware of any bats roosting in the house and/or outbuildings.  For further information on bats visit http://www.bats.org.uk/     

 

  1. Rats and mice – rats, mice and other rodents are common in rural areas both within residential parts and outbuildings. There are a number of methods of controlling rodents including traditional traps, poison or friendly traps (which allow a mouse to be caught alive and then set free away from the house).  Whichever method you choose, it is important to keep rodents under control as they can multiply very quickly.

 

  1. Conservation Areas and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) – if you are planning to buy a house in a rural area/village it is important to check whether it falls within a Conservation Area.  Conservation Areas aim to control what works can be carried out in an area in an attempt to prevent inappropriate development.  However, the downside is that these controls will also affect works you plan to carry out to your own property.  Contact your Local Authority to check whether the property you plan to buy falls within a Conservation Area.  To find out whether a property falls within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) visit http://www.landscapesforlife.org.uk/visit-aonbs.html 

 

  1. Agricultural ties – a property with an agricultural would normally have an occupancy restriction, typically restricting occupancy to persons employed, or last employed in agriculture in the area.  In some instances this restriction can be extended to others, such as widows or widowers of someone employed or last employed in agriculture.  If you propose to buy a property with an agricultural tie, or any other form of occupancy restriction, check the details of the restrictions with the Local Authority.  Properties with an agricultural tie typically sell for a lower price, ie, have a lower value, than similar properties without an occupancy restriction, so if you are considering purchasing a property which has a lower price than you would have expected, this may be because it has an agricultural tie.

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