Watch: Martin Roberts, from Homes Under the Hammer, shares some top tips on the things to look out for when buying a house
With 17 years of Homes Under The Hammer under his belt, TV presenter and property expert, Martin Roberts has definitely got the know-how when it comes to buying houses.
While he says that avoiding properties with huge structural issues are a no-no, the biggest thing to consider is actually the location of the property.
“You can change the house, but you can’t change the location,” he advises.
“It’s better to buy the ugliest house on the best street, rather than the best house on an ugly street.”
Research is imperative, especially if you are new to the area and Roberts suggests visiting the property you are interested in during different times of the day to see if there are any surprises in store.
It’s something that a recent survey by property website Zoopla touched on, with 46% of respondents wishing they had been more rigorous with their research before purchasing.
Their biggest regrets? Not checking in with neighbours and broadband speed, something that’s become even important with more people now working from home.
During the day, Roberts suggests visiting the local shops and knocking on the neighbour’s door – if people are nice, they won’t mind answering any questions about the surrounding area. Check on how those neighbours keep their outdoor spaces as well – if they’ve got a battered old sofa cluttering up their front garden, chances are they don’t care about the area.
Other things Roberts suggests checking out are the local leisure facilities and also what the local infrastructure is like: Are the communal green areas cared for? Is the area serviced well with public transport?
His final word of advice is to check out the local schools. If you don’t have children, this may seem odd, but properties near good schools are a great investment as they will always keep their value.
Roberts suggests visiting the OFSTED website and as long as the schools are listed as good or outstanding, then you’re onto a winner.
“You know that’s a school with the kind of children who are being brought up in an area that is nice to live in,” the presenter says.
“People will buy and spend more money living in an area with a good school. You may not have kids now, but think of the future.”
The internet is another great place to research areas using sites like Zoopla and Right Move. You can search using keywords like ‘good schools’ to narrow down the areas you want to concentrate on.
Of course, there is also the structural integrity of a building to consider and Roberts suggests taking someone along with you, like a builder, when viewing a property. He also recommends taking a pair of binoculars on all house viewings!
“Literally take a pair of binoculars with you when you go and look at a house,” he says.
“Check the guttering, check around the chimney to see if there are any signs of leakage, look for algae on the walls - that’s green stuff - that shows that there might have been an ingress of water.”
A survey will also bring up any potential problems, but Roberts does advise looking at the bigger picture and not getting hung up on any smaller, fixable problems.
If you’re a first-time buyer in particular, you should also be looking at how you can add value to a property. Is there an old bathroom or kitchen that you can improve on? It will not only make it nicer to live in, but also make it more saleable down the line.
Overall, though his biggest advice is just to trust your initial feelings about a property.
“Trust your gut instinct,” he says.
“If you’re buying for yourself, go back to that main point of ‘Is this somewhere that you want to live?’ and if it is, you can get over most problems!”
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