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Issues with the property when buying a house

There might be issues with the property you want to buy. Some of these might affect your chances of getting a mortgage, others might cost you money further down the line. It’s worth knowing what to look out for – and what mistakes to avoid – when buying a home.

A list of properties lenders don’t always like

  • Homes of unusual construction – any building not of standard brick and mortar construction. There are still homes built of wattle and daub, cob, concrete or timber frames which can sometimes be covered with asbestos cement.
  • High-rise flats – for example, ex-council flats in tower blocks, especially if they have problems with lift maintenance or where most of the other flats are still in the hands of the local authority.
  • Buildings with cladding – buildings over 18 metres high with Aluminium Composite Material (ACM), also known as cladding, need a fire safety certificate. There have been disagreements about whose responsibility it is to get this, and lenders have been valuing homes at zero and rejecting applications over this issue.
  • Flats over shops, restaurants and offices – any property where other people could have the right to access your property. Properties like this are also hard to value.
  • Short leaseholds – flats are often sold on leasehold which means you only own it for a specific number of years. Leaseholds of 80 years or less can be a problem so look to extend the lease before you buy. Find out more in our guide Leasehold vs freehold: What’s the difference?
  • New build properties –lenders often value newly built properties lower than the asking price meaning you will have to have a larger deposit. The developer might offer special deals to help. See our guide Government schemes for first-time home buyers and existing homeowners.
  • Brownfield sites – properties built on former industrial land can be difficult as they might be contaminated. Your solicitor will need to check the certificates to prove the property has been decontaminated.
  • Too close to the sea – coastal erosion could lead to your new home becoming dangerously close to a cliff edge.
  • Character homes – converted lighthouses, windmills, churches, schools and pubs might need a mortgage from a specialist lender.
  • Grade 1 listed properties and thatched houses – the cost of repairs and rebuilding make them less attractive to mainstream lenders who also worry about the risk of fire.

Things to look for when buying a house

When you are house-hunting, bear in mind the property might not be as good as it first seems.

There are a lot of common mistakes you can avoid when buying your home by looking beyond the decor.

There might be repair bills and hidden problems including:

  • damp,
  • faulty electrics, or
  • noisy neighbours.

All of these could contribute towards higher costs and extra effort after you move in

Inside the property

Check for problems which might be expensive to fix, such as:

  • damp
  • old-fashioned plugs and switches that could mean the property needs rewiring
  • an old boiler
  • weak toilet flushing
  • rotten window frames.

If you have a friend, family member or trusted builder who is familiar with fixing properties, take them with you to visit the property.

A builder will give you an idea of how much it will cost to fix any obvious problems.

You can then use this as a bargaining tool to ask the seller to lower the price.

Don’t be afraid to ask how old the wiring and roof are or when the boiler was fitted and when any renovations were done.

Outside the property

  • Check the surrounding area – look at the state of the nearby streets, pubs and shops to get a feel for the area.
  • Guttering and roof tiles – try and see if there are any missing sections that could cause leaks.
  • Visit at different times of the day – your street might be really quiet in the middle of the day but noisy and busy during rush hour.
  • Subsidence – look outside the property. Are there big trees growing nearby, which could potentially cause subsidence problems?
  • Parking permits – will you need a permit to park there? Ask the current owner how much it is. Is it difficult to find parking if you don’t have off-street parking or a garage?
  • b is the property in a flood zone? Buildings insurance for previously flooded homes is expensive and might be hard to find. If you can’t get insurance, then you won’t get a mortgage.
  • Noisy neighbours – ask the sellers if there have been any problems with neighbours. If you’re viewing a flat, find out if the neighbours above have wooden floors, or what potential noise there might be.
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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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