Top 10 Mistakes People Make When Buying a Property

By James Brook FRICS on and updated on

Are you on the hunt for a new home? Unfortunately, many people – particularly first-time buyers – end up making costly mistakes when purchasing a home. Some people rush into an agreement due to the need to relocate, only to find the area is unsuitable for their lifestyle. Other people neglect to have a property’s value and condition independently assessed via a building survey, and that’s a mistake that could set you back thousands of pounds.

So, what are the top 10 mistakes people make when buying a property? And how can you avoid doing the same? Read on, and we’ll shed light on the regretful decisions that so many property hunters make. If you need any advice from an impartial property specialist, don’t hesitate to reach out to our RICS Chartered Surveyors.

1. Relying solely on the internet to find a home

While the internet provides you with a comprehensive source of information, you shouldn’t solely rely on it to find suitable homes. The internet certainly has its advantages – it’s available around-the-clock and easy to use, not to mention browsing through hundreds of listings takes a few minutes.

But the internet will never be able to provide the same level of local knowledge and industry expertise as a property specialist. You could partner with an estate agent, but remember they’re largely motivated by commission. If you want an impartial property expert to help you find the perfect home, you might want to contact our Surveyors.

2. Trusting a mortgage lender’s valuation

You must determine whether a home’s asking price is accurate before committing to decades of mortgage repayments. And that means you shouldn’t rely on mortgage valuations, which are purposed to satisfy the needs of the lender rather than the buyer.

If you want to gauge a home’s accurate value, you can start by looking at similar homes in similar areas to see how the prices compare. But remember that homes hiding defects might also come with a sky-high repair bill. The most reliable way to determine a home’s value is to hire an impartial RICS Registered Valuer, who can provide you with a valuation within two days.

3. Failing to realise all the costs involved

You’ve probably got a budget in mind, but have you considered all the costs involved with buying a property? You need to think about more than just the purchase price. When calculating the total cost of buying a home, you might need to consider fees such as solicitors, removals, Stamp Duty, insurance and renovations. And then, of course, you might have to repair urgent problems.

Talk to an impartial property expert at Novello Chartered Surveyors, and we can help you understand all the costs involved with property ownership to make sure you don’t go over budget. Obtain a property survey, and you’ll have an idea of how much problems might cost to rectify.

4. Neglecting to consider a range of finance options

It may sound obvious, but you shouldn’t go with the first mortgage offer you receive. After all, you may be repaying your mortgage for several decades. But as well as comparing a range of finance options – which includes the Help to Buy Scheme – you need to get your mortgage approved a long time before making an offer.

First, you need to know how much you can actually borrow. Then, you need to realise that it can take between 18 and 40 days to get approved. Make sure you apply for a mortgage in time to get your home surveyed, work with solicitors and make an offer when you’re happy.

5. Falling in love at first sight

Searching for a new property can be exciting, but it can also be stressful. When tensions run high, you might start losing patience and decide to just go for the property of your dreams without putting too much thought into it. The reality is – no home is perfect. You need to find out what’s lurking beneath the surface before making an offer.

Again, the easiest way to tell whether a property will prove practical and a joy to live in is to work with a RICS Chartered Surveyor to examine its condition.

6. Being too afraid to negotiate a better price

Negotiating is a crucial aspect of purchasing a home, yet many people – particularly first-time buyers – feel too afraid to do it. In some cases, people offer a price that’s far too low rather than negotiate. Consequently, some sellers just ignore the offer, meaning buyers miss out on homes they love.

In other cases, property hunters agree to the original asking price without bartering at all, which is also a mistake. It’s always a smart idea to secure a bargaining chip when trying to bring the price of a property down. A survey report which details defects and a cost-estimate for urgent repairs will certainly help you skim a few pounds off a property’s asking price. Partner with the right property specialists, and they’ll negotiate for you.

7. Not researching the area thoroughly

If you’re relocating you might want to consider renting before buying. That way, you can determine which areas you like and look to different areas if your rental home doesn’t meet your expectations.

8. Concentrating too much an aesthetics

When viewing a home, try to imagine it as a blank canvas. A property might appear beautiful when it’s full of furniture and decorations, but a lot of that might disappear when you actually move in. So, don’t concentrate on the trinkets inside a home that make it stand out. Remember that sooner or later, you’ll be making this property your own. Instead of focusing purely on the superficial, think about practicality. And always hire a Surveyor to identify defects that you probably won’t find alone.

9. Overlooking properties that don’t seem quite right

If you’re searching for a new property online, you might be put off certain homes for the wrong reasons. Some low-quality or poorly taken images may paint an inaccurate picture of what the house really looks like. You might be pleasantly surprised if you view a home in person that didn’t appear so good on the internet.

View as many properties as possible (within reason), and you’ll be able to better gauge what you can get for your money. And, when you do find that seemingly perfect home, remember to have its condition and value accurately assessed.

10. Forgetting to hire a RICS Chartered Surveyor

No matter how beautiful or perfect a property appears, it’s probably hiding defects. To put that into perspective, an estimated 9 out of 10 new-builds have problems. Yet only around 20% of buyers obtain an impartial property survey before buying a house. This may be the costliest mistake you can make when buying a house or flat.

Bear in mind that the average property hunter who fails to have a home professionally surveyed ends up with a repair bill worth £6,000. Property surveys cost as little as a few hundred pounds. Imagine how much you could save with such a small investment.

How Novello Chartered Surveyors Can Help

At Novello, we’ve been surveying and valuing homes for the better part of a decade, and we recently launched our company to address the current shortcomings in the surveying industry.

We’ve created a bespoke Level 2 property survey called the HomeLevel Report. It’s the same price as the alternative HomeBuyer Report – which has been the standard and most popular Level 2 survey for over two decades – but goes into more detail and comes with a range of added benefits.

Find out how HomeLevel stacks up against HomeBuyer.

If you’re looking at a home that requires extensive repairs, or if you want to make significant alterations, you might be better off getting a Full Building Survey, the most detailed property survey available.

So, whether you need a survey, valuation or just some general advice, feel free to get in touch with us via phone, chat or email. We’ll gladly tell you more about the common mistakes you need to avoid when purchasing a home in.

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