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Choosing a Property – Top Tips for First-Time Buyers

house surveyors east London

Buying your first home is a major investment, with the average price of a house in London now around the £500,000 mark, while prices of flats in the city have also risen over recent years.

Chartered Building Surveyors Anderson Associates were founded in 1999 and have extensive experience of the housing market, carrying out surveys in east London and south east London.

Here are our top five tips for those about to climb onto the first rung of the housing ladder.

Sort Out Your Budget

The first step is to finalise how much you can afford as a mortgage. It could be worth looking into Government-backed schemes which offer assistance to the first-time buyer. Moving home together with someone else, such as a friend or partner, may also help to ease the financial burden.
If you are borrowing to buy your first home, then you should talk to a professional adviser, who will be able to offer you a mortgage in principle. This puts in writing exactly how much your lender would be willing to lend you, and so you can start budgeting accordingly.
Bear in mind that if you are buying a flat, which is more likely to be the case in London where house prices are so high, then it’s important check your lender will offer a mortgage on flats on higher floors, as not all banks and building societies do.

Do Your Research

The internet means it is now much easier to find out exactly what properties are on the market and where. Looking at the appropriate property websites and social media can quickly give you a feel for what areas are like. It also means you can compare the price of similar properties so you can quickly gain an idea of what you can and can’t afford.
The advantages of the internet haven’t replaced more traditional methods of house-hunting. If you are using an estate agent, make sure you visit them as often as possible to keep as up-to-date as possible with available properties, and make it clear as a first-time buyer you are an attractive proposition, as you are not involved in a chain.

Location, Location, Location

You should have a checklist of all the things which are important to you. For example, how close to your workplace do you need to be? Being closer can cut down on the travel costs, but a home further away might be larger and in a more desirable area, which you could find more relaxing. If you have children, then you will need to know where the local schools are and how they are rated.
Other key factors include the closeness of general amenities, like where the nearest shops and supermarkets are, and what the traffic and public transport is like. To get a better feel for this it is always a good idea to visit your prospective new home at different times of the day. Go once during the day and again during the rush hour.
You will usually have to make a distinction between ‘must-have’ and ‘would like to have’ items, as you may not be able to find everything you like within your asking price. For instance, in London you might have to choose between a garden or a parking space.

Checking the Property’s Condition

Once you have got to the stage of viewing properties, it is also a good idea to look out for any potential faults or flaws. Outside, this means checking for any problems with guttering, roof tiles and walls; inside, look for any signs of damp or internal cracks. If you spot anything that could be a problem, you can ask your surveyor to look at it. This is an important reason for choosing independent surveyors rather than relying on the lender’s valuation. An independent surveyor will be working for you, not for the lender, so you can speak to them both before and after the survey, mention anything you want them to specifically look at and get an expert opinion on any potential issues spotted.
Also try to find out as much as possible about your prospective neighbours, as noisy people can be a problem in semi-detached houses as well as in flats.

If you are buying a flat, you should also establish whether it is being offered freehold or leasehold. If it is leasehold, find out who owns the freehold, what their reputation is, and if you will be subject to various costs, including a service charge for any communal areas in the building. Again this is an area where an independent surveyor can advise you, as well as a solicitor.

What Sort of Survey?

If you have found somewhere you like, you will need to have an independent survey of the property carried out on your behalf before you commit to the purchase. This will give you an idea of what the condition of the property is in and will identify any issues. You won’t want to be landed with a huge repair bill soon after you have moved in. A survey can also often save you money, which is especially welcome for first-time buyers, since if it highlights problems with the building you may be able to negotiate a lower price.

Anderson Associates are expert house surveyors offering surveys on properties in East London, including Chingford, Ilford, Stratford, Docklands and Chigwell. We also carry out surveys on homes in south-east London, Essex, Kent and Suffolk. Our recommendation is that new buyers opt for our full building survey, as we can carry this out for a similar price as a home buyers survey and it is much more detailed.

Another option especially applicable to people buying flats is a leasehold or shared freehold survey. Click on the link and fill in the online form to get in touch and enquire about a survey.


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Whether you need a simple valuation or a full structural survey as well as being expert building surveyors we’re happy to give you free, impartial advice on anything to do with buildings and property.
Anderson Associates
(Head Office & Correspondence Address)
Warneford House, Portal Avenue
Martlesham Heath, Ipswich
Suffolk IP5 3QY
T. 01473 623 656
T. 0800 652 8285
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Registered Office: Anderson Associates (Surveying) Ltd. | Warneford House, Portal Avenue, Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, Suffolk IP5 3QY
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