Buying a house or flat - ten top tips for buying your home

  1. Use a reputable solicitor for buying your home - legal problems may only arise several years later when you attempt to sell your home and the buyer's solicitor spots a problem.  Don't assume that the lowest fee quote will mean the job gets done properly.  We are happy to recommend a solicitor if required.
  2. Research the market - be happy with the price you are paying.  If in doubt get some valuation advice.
  3. Buying a flat with a short leasevaluation advice on extending the lease of a flat
  4. Ask yourself:  "how easy will this property be to sell in a few years' time?".  If you want to move quickly in four or five years' time, thinking about this question now can help you buy the right property.
  5. Extending a house.  If you're thinking about doing this it is worth getting advice from an architect, planning consultant or building surveyor about the feasibility of your ideas in planning and financial terms.  Note that houses benefit from permitted development rights (development you can undertake without needing planning permission) but flats don't.
  6. Ask the seller:  "have you ahd any problems with the neighbours?".  This is usually asked as standard in pre-purchase enquiries (which your solicitor will deal with) but check to make sure...  If a seller has had a problem with a neighbour and when asked fails to disclose this to you the buyer you may be able to sue the seller in the future.  Of course if the seller has had a problem and discloses this you will be able to pull out of the purchase.
  7. Get a building survey:  make sure there are no structural problems with the property - the cost of a building survey can be very low relative to the potential costs of not getting one and discovering a problem after buying your house.  We frequently arrange building surveys in North London for our clients who use them to decide whether or not to continue with the purchase or to negotiate down the purchase price to reflect work that needs to be carried out but which they were not aware of when the price was agreed.  Note that it would be foolish to assume that there are no structural problems just because a property is in a good decorative state of repair.
  8. If buying a flat check the wording of the repair clause.  Buying a flat almost always means you will be liable to contribute to the cost of the repair of the building - your liability won't just be to keep your flat in repair.  For this reason it is just as important to get a building survey when buying a flat as it is when buying a house.  The way the lease is worded here is very important:  the majority of leases state that the freeholder is obliged to keep the common parts and structure of the property in repair and the leaseholder is obliged to pay for a proportionate part of the costs.  Some leases however oblige the leaseholder to pay a proportionate part of the costs but don't actually oblige the landlord to carry out the repairs.  This is something which your solicitor will advise on.
  9. Check you can get insurance for flooding.
  10. Check to see whether any major works are planned nearby - for example road widening.  This is usually something your solicitor will check with the Local Authority.