WHAT IS A HOME BUYING INSPECTION CHECKLIST?
What does a home buying inspection checklist mean to you? There are a number of things that this can mean, from the point of view that you are cutting down a shortlist, looking to re-visit this list.
Or is this the point that you would consider to be a survey of the preoprty, detailing the 'experts' position, perhaps to duly consider whether you can obtain a mortgage against the property.
Yes, properties must meet certain criteria before you are allowed to borrow money against them!
With both of these elements crucial in the house buying process, I would err you always to do both steps.
Here we are going at your short list of houses and the sort of home buying inspection checklist you as the purchaser can assess for yourself. Having looked at the locational factors, and you are now starting to commence your packing what are your next steps...
BEFORE PLACING AN OFFER
Before you go ahead and put an offer on the property, you need to arrange another visit with your home buying inspection checklist. This is the practical one. The one where you need to leave your heart at the door and assess the house with your head. Things that you will need to consider, especially if the property is empty:
- Does the house have enough space for your furniture? A king size bed in a large bedroom, can look smaller, but in the new rooms dimensions, it meay mean you can't fit the bed and the wardrobes or bed side tables either side of the bed. Taking a tape measure and the sizes of your larger furniture will allow you to see if these things will fit.
- Your kitchen - do you have room for all your appliances? A kitchen with lots of cupboards can be deceptive, if not all appliances are fitted or integral to the kitchen. Work out what you have in your existing property. What is coming with you (or what is being left), and whether you have room for them all, note these down on your home buying inspection checklist.
- Exterior - Look at the house or flat with a critical eye. Do you have blocked/broken guttering? Are the windows in a good state of repair, do they need painting or replacing, if replacing how secure is the property? If the windows look dubious, consider the doors too? The aim of your home buying inspection checklist is to be practical, assessing risks, safety, and the worthiness of investment.
- Age of property - Don't make the assumption that a newer house has no problems, because it's new, and similarly you don't want to assume that because a house is 'of age' it too is fine, "as it's stood the test of time!" Use your home buying inspection checklist to check for cracks, look at the brick work (is the cement coming loose), look at the roof (are there missing slates / tiles or is the roof covered in moss). All these things will need thorough investigation and resolution.
- Interior - look beyond the decor! Yes I grant you at times this can be difficult, as some people have unusual, acquired tastes, that quite purely don't suit everyone. But you need to look to see if you are being sold a neat and tidy home, or one that is cleverly decorated and could lead you to can of worms! If you think a curtain is hanging differently or unusually, then move it and check. Leave nothing unturned.
- Exterior buildings - If these are temporary or permanent features you need to apply the same critical eye. Do they have a flat roof, ascertain when it was last sealed, as you are going to need to know when to re-do it. Find out, especially if temporary structures such as sheds and greenhouses, whether they are to be sold with the property or without it. If you definitely want the structure, make this a pointed question, mark it down and ensure that your solicitor is aware of it.
- Shrubs and plants - if the property has an established garden, you may well like to ensure that certain shrubs, trees or plants are to be retained with the property. If they form an integral part then you may wish to check with vendor that they are to be included in the sale.
- Functionalities - Electrics and plumbing. You may well wish to bring an expert to the property for a preliminary assessment on these, especially if you are a first time buyer! Assessing the age of the house, and then looking at the fixtures and fittings which are using these functionalities, do they look 'old', you may need to consider that the house will need a re-wire or that there is gas central heating, and that the house is heated by another source. If you are unsure try to ascertain from the Estate Agent or the Vendor direct.
Once you have gone through this home buying inspection checklist, you will have conducted a thorough second visit of the property, consequentially you will no doubt have lots of questions. Now is the time to ask yourself a couple of questions, and you need to be honest with yourself. These are:
- Is it too much work?
- Is it something that you can formally request to repair by the vendor?
- Are you prepared to take this work on, but are looking to reduce the asking price?
If you have questions regarding the property, it's contents and inclusion in the asking price, discuss with the Estate Agent or Vendor. Make sure that you write your questions out, and note down the answers as you receive them. All of these need to be included in your assessment and offer on the property, if you are still going to proceed. Make sure you get the answers to, don't get talked around that things are rosy, if you truly don't believe them to be the case.
FORMAL HOME BUYING INSPECTION CHECKLIST
Enlisting the professionals help will allow you to have a more information on your purchase. If you are going to use a mortgage to purchase the property you will have to have a Mortgage Valuation Report. This report will confirm to the society who are going to lend you the money that the property is worth at least what they are lending to you. This report will not tell you of any repairs that are required, you will need a separate report for that.
For a formal home buying inspection checklist, you will find that there are four types of report that you can obtain. Some of these are dependent on the age or the up-date of the property. A high level view on the types and their definitions is here:
what this report tells you
Home Buyer's Report
This is probably the most common report. It should cover the structural safety, highlighting problems with damp or non-compliance with the current building regulations. It will provide you with an independent view on the property's value.
This would be a wise survey to obtain if you are considering to purchase an older property. If you are aware that the building is built in a non-standard construction manner, such as timber, or steel, then you this would be wise. It can take a little longer for completion, but should provide you with a detailed report on the condition of the property, most crucially providing you with any details on issues that should be investigated further before you proceed with the purchase.
Home Condition Survey
This will tell you about the condition of the property, and whether there are problems that you should investigate prior to purchase. This will also provide you a rebuild cost of the property, which is particularly of value for insurance purposes. Remember though, this is for the re-build, and not reflective of contents.
New Build - snagging survey
You may will have heard this term as a Snagging List. It is a form of home buying inspection checklist for new homes, to make sure that the building and finish is "up to scratch" and completed as requested. This type of inspection checklists covers everything, including poor paintwork. The developer should then correct any defects that arise from this snagging list.
My final advice on a snagging home buying inspection checklist would be to ensure that you know how long you have to "snag" the property, and preferably go over the home before you put a suitcase in the door!
HOME BUYING INSPECTION CHECKLIST SUMMARY
Getting these assessments done, may well cost you some cash to do it, but it is an investment safe-guarding your home, and therefore I would consider this money well spent. Once you have the results of these inspections, you will be in a position to have an informed choice and can make that true decision as to whether you can put in an offer in on your home.
If you have any doubts, listen to them, don't be moved from them, or talked round. If there is work that needs to be done, seek advice on the correction costs, and adjust your offer accordingly. Or put the request that the vendor do the work and you'd then be be prepared to pay x amount. Get the work checked though, just to ensure that there are no corners that have been cut.
Should you be considering buying an auction property, don't get caught out. Make sure you do your homework!