SSJ Chartered Surveyors

A Buyer’s Checklist for Finding a New Home

You’ve saved up a deposit, secured a mortgage in principle and are ready to find the property of your dreams. The important thing now is to choose a home that not only fits your family now, but which can provide a wonderful place for you to live for years to come.

We’ve put together a simple checklist to guide you through the process of finding and securing your perfect property.

Before Your Search

Most buyers get caught up in the excitement of buying a new home, and rush headlong into the search without taking the time to consider what they’re actually looking for. You can save yourself a lot of time – and buyer’s remorse – by sitting down with your partner, family or friends to define everything you really need in a home, as well as anything you would like on top.

Our top tip? Decide on your ideal parameters for size, location and price, and how flexible you are prepared to be on each. Follow this up with a set of “must have” and “nice to have” criteria. These are different for everyone, but might include things like a second reception room, off-road parking or en-suite bathrooms.

Once you start looking

With a little preparation, you should be able to filter through your options with relatively ease, limiting yourself to properties which are in a nice location, have enough space, and fall within your budget. The next step is to view these to see if you can imagine making a home there.

Buying a property and moving your family is a huge commitment, so it’s important to take off the rose-tinted glasses, and scrutinise the building you’re about to invest in. Here are the top questions buyers often forget to ask themselves before signing on the dotted line.

Inside the house, ask yourself:

  • Is everything in generally good order? Flick switches, test taps and check that all doors and windows open and close properly.
  • Are there any obvious signs of damp, like mould speckles, condensation or discolouration in the walls? If so, it may be worth commissioning a specific defect report.
  • Does any of the décor look suspicious, such as oddly-placed rugs or pictures which could be concealing damage?
  • Are there plenty of integrated cupboards, and if not, is there enough room for storage furniture in the rooms?
  • What is the parking like; is there a garage, or will you need a permit to park on the street? What about guests?
  • Can you spot any layout quirks that would need to be changed, like awkward plug sockets or light switches?
  • How does the current kitchen layout work for you? If you mime making a meal, does it flow nicely or will you have to renovate the space?
  • How does the age and condition of the building match up to how much effort you want to put in maintaining and updating it?

Tip: Take plenty of pictures as you walk around – at least one per room. It will make it much easier to remember each property clearly, and decide which you want to view a second time.

Don’t forget to ask your estate agent:

  • Why are the current owners moving out?
  • How long has it been on the market?
  • How many viewings has it had, and has anyone already made an offer?
  • Is there a chain?
  • If you’re looking at a leasehold property, who is the freeholder and managing agent?

Practical matters:

  • What council tax band is the house in?
  • Is there any ground rent or service charges?
  • What does the EPC rating estimate your bills will be?
  • Do you have good mobile signal, and what are the available internet speeds?
  • For leasehold properties, are there more than 83 years left on the term?
  • What sits on the property boundary? Will you have to consider potential party wall issues?

Tip: Always go for a second viewing, at a different time of day. It will give you a better idea of the amount of natural light, the parking availability and how noisy the neighbours can be.

Research the local area:

  • Do the properties on the rest of the street look well-maintained?
  • Are there good public transport options?
  • Is any development planned nearby, and how will this affect you?
  • What are the local crime statistics?
  • How are the local schools performing? Even if this doesn’t affect your family, it can have a huge impact on the resale value of your home.
  • Are the nearby parks well kept?

What happens when you find the perfect place?

  • Find a solicitor you can work with (check for any reasons that might delay your transaction, such as having long holidays booked).
  • Compare the asking price against local market trends and property that has recently sold nearby.
  • Make an offer, including an exclusivity period upon acceptance. This will make sure nobody else can view the property while you are arranging contracts.
  • Arrange for a property survey to be conducted.

And when you’re ready to proceed?

  • Obtain the mortgage deed to be signed by the solicitor.
  • Sign your contracts and exchange them.
  • Pay the balance of the agreed price
  • Receive the title deeds and transfer document
  • Pay the Stamp Duty, solicitor’s fees and Land Registry charges
  • Collect your keys and move in!

Our Portfolio

Project: Robinson House, The Square, Shrewsbury
Type: Refurbishment
Client: Pooks
Value: £400,000
Programme: 6 months

We were engaged to prepare a Feasibility Study to convert three floors of this impressive Grade II Listed building from offices to residential accommodation on the first, second & third floors.

Planning & Listed Building consent were obtained and work commenced under strict supervision to ensure compliance imposed in the Listed Building consent.

Project: Barn Conversion, Market Drayton
Type: Refurbishment
Client: Hartland
Value: £500,000
Programme: 6 months

This scheme involved the total refurbishment of this former Grade II Listed stable block to create 4 self contained residential units.

Planning & Listed Building consents, followed by Building Regulation approval were obtained. Careful attention to detail was required in order to comply with the requirements of the Conservation Officer. A detailed specification and drawings were required in order to ensure full compliance with the conditions attached to the statutory consents.

Internal features were retained as much as possible, ensuring that future generations will appreciate the historical construction details of this fine Grade II Listed building.

Project: Paunceford Court, Nr. Ledbury
Type: Refurbishment
Value: £1,000,000
Programme: 18 months

This scheme involved the complete refurbishment and extension of a Grade II Listed country house, which included upgrading and refurbishment of the main house, upgrading and extending the stable complex and finally the conversion of the attached Oast House to create additional residential accommodation.

Both Planning & Listed Building consent was required for this project which is now nearing completion. Close liaison with the Conservation Officer was required to ensure full compliance with conditions attached to the Listed Building consent. In addition, as the property is in a sensitive ecological area, full adherence to ecology requirements needed to be observed and which were scrutinised by the Local Authority as work progressed.

Project: 6a Bird Street, Lichfield
Type: Refurbishment
Value: £110,000
Programme: 4 months

This scheme involved the conversion of the first and second floors within this Grade II Listed property located in the centre of Lichfield. Both Planning and Listed Building consent were obtained, which included the preparation of a scheme of enhanced sound insulation between the commercial and residential premises, complying with the stringent requirements of the Local Authority.

The scheme created two 1 bedroom apartments.

Project: 11 Bird Street, Lichfield
Type: Refurbishment
Value: £120,000
Programme: 5 months

This scheme involved the creation of three 1 bedroom apartments on the upper floors of this Grade II Listed property located in the centre of Lichfield.

Both Planning and Listed Building consent were obtained prior to the works commencing, all works being undertaken whilst the ground floor commercial premises were in occupation.