Buying a House

If you need help and advice with regard to residential building surveys, structural surveys, estate agents, mortgages, valuations, home buyers reports, building surveys, engineers reports, defects reports, including things such as cracks, dampness, condensation, foundation problems, etc, then. Please free phone 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat.

Our building surveys have lots of sketches and photos

We use lots of sketches and photographs in our building surveys to help you understand the report and to get the best results for you such as being able to understand any problems that the property may have and therefore negotiating a better purchase price.

We would recommend that you meet the Building Surveyor at the property during the course of the survey and speak to them about what they have found and speak to them again when they have completed the report.


Buying a house - the pitfalls

We have recently been involved with helping a client buy a house and we thought it may be of use to other people in this situation if we explained how we progressed and some of the pitfalls that we have come across.


Structural Survey

We originally met our client when they asked for a structural survey on a property that very obviously had structural defects which we could see within ten minutes of walking around the property. The client was moving out of London and did not know the area and needed to move relatively quickly and we felt had been misguided by the estate agent with a house that was not appropriate for her requirements that we would say clinically fitted the requirements of what the estate agents had to sell.


Know what type of house you want or you will get the type of house the estate agent has to sell

The main thing that put the house buyer off when they came to have a look at the house when we were carrying out the structural survey was not so much the structural problem, although obviously this in itself was a showstopper, it was other characteristics of the property and the location that when she had a close look didn't meet her requirements. As she was moving from London to this location she hadn't had that much time and had relied on the estate agent to identify properties that met her basic criteria's of living:

1.  A two to three bedroomed house

2.  Having parking

3.  Being near to a main line railway station to get back to her job in London

4.  Having a garden

5.  Being in reasonable condition, although she didn't mind doing some work it needed to be more interior decoration than rebuilding.

Unfortunately on closer inspection the property didn't meet quite a few of these characteristics as well as having a structural problem and therefore she asked for help.


You need to be looking in the right place for the budget you have available

The budget and your criteria will limit where you can look. For example a three bedroomed property will have a market value of £X and a sale value of £Y. You need to ensure you are looking in an area where the average sales values are £Y.

We are pleased to see that both Rightmove and Zoopla, which we feel are the most popular estate agent websites, give an average figure fee for prices of houses in the area. However we weren't certain whether this was the sale price or the sold price which could be quite different. You only have to go onto a website such as to see how much house prices come down over time or go up to see that the for sale price of a property in an area isn't necessarily what they are sold at.


How do estate agents value properties

If an estate agent is given a free reign on a property they will normally price the property to sell unless there are some restrictions placed upon this by the seller.

1.  These could be that the seller has to meet a certain price to pay off what they owe on their mortgage.

2.  It could be that the seller has to sell by a set date to allow them to move into a new job and/or to have their children put into a new school.

3.  It could be a sale of an investment property in which case the investment seller may wish to have the cash to buy another property or they may wish to sell the property to pay off taxes.

4.  Or they may have come to a retirement age where they wish to sell the property they have owned them for many years and not be that pushed to get the best price.

If you as the buyer can understand the position the seller is in it makes them easier to deal with and also easier to understand where to pitch your offer on the property.


Beware of estate agents stories

If was very interesting to hear from our client that she had been told by the estate agent that the person in the property was moving out to move in with their boyfriend / girlfriend / brand new job etc., etc. Whilst this may be true often the story is the one they feel will meet the purchaser's requirements and ideas best. Our client came across this only when she was shown around the same property twice by different estate agents who had different stories as to why the property was being sold, but ask away as estate agents will always have different stories.

The best story we ever heard from an estate agent was when they advised that the industrial building at the end of the garden was an antique store as our client at the time was very keen on antiques and it turned out to be a meat preparation building that operated sometimes 24 hours a day.


Your top ten list for what you want from a new house

Having tried buying houses in various different ways we do think putting a list of your top ten requirements down from day one does help a lot. Some of these requirements may well vary but you do need to put something down on paper. This could be anything from it needs to be £X price if it has A, B and C or it can be £Y price if it has D, E and F. The sort of things that are very common are requiring a house that is:

1.  Close to work

2.  Close to schools

3. Close to friends and relatives

4.  A bargain that needs doing up

5.  A house that needs nothing doing to it


These tend to all be location related but you may have physical requirements such as:

1.  Needs a minimum of three bedrooms

2.  Needs parking next to the property

3.  Needs a downstairs cloakroom

4.  Needs a study as you work from home frequently

5.  Needs a high speed internet connection


Buyers' market or seller's market

You should be very aware if you are buying in a seller's market or a buyer's market and adjust accordingly. A seller's market requires you to know exactly what you want and when you have seen it and make quick decisions. A buyer's market allows you more time to think about what you are purchasing but equally there is likely to be much less available on the market.


Deal only with honest estate agents

We are aware this is a very subjective thing to say but one of the experiences we have had whilst helping our client purchase a property is estate agents saying that properties are sold when they are not and also playing games with you when you do make an offer advising that someone else has made an offer and do you want to make a further bid when you are very doubtful there is anyone else bidding.

Through an estate agent one of the best examples we know of this is a house that was for sale that we were about to carry out a structural survey on but our client rang up literally as we were standing outside the house to say that they had been gazumped.

Gazumping Defined

This is where someone outbids you

They then went on to tell a story of how only yesterday someone had driven past the property, noticed the for sale board and made an offer on the property. This we found very interesting as we could see the for sale board in the front garden that had fallen over some time ago judging by the plants that had grown over it. Never the less the buyer that we were working for didn't get to hear anything else about the property and they were advised they wouldn't get the property unless they upped their bid.


Know the right websites to have a look at

You may simply not see the property that you are looking for and know how to use the search engine properly on the website. It only takes a few minutes to have a quick read as to how best to use it.



It is important to view as many properties as possible in a day as this gives you a good selection to think about. Make sure you have details of all of them and make sure you have your top ten list and score out of ten how good they are. If the estate agent doesn't have any details with them because they have forgotten them or they haven't had time to put them together / approve / the printer has broken / this has just come onto the market or whatever reason you need to take a photo of the property. To make sure you have an accurate record take a photo of the front and the rear of every property you view and then a few inside photos. Set aside three weekends to carry out viewings and review you top ten list after every weekend.


Get other people involved in buying your house


This is so important as time and time again people will help you in ways that you don't even realise. For example we were explaining to one of our colleagues that we were looking for a property for a particular client and they advised of someone that had, had their property on the market in the summer and then decided to come off the market as it came nearer Christmas as no one sold in the run up to Christmas and of course we were now in the Christmas period when our clients wished to purchase within the next two to three weeks because they had sold and their original sale had fallen through.



We hope you have enjoyed this article and would like to refer you to other articles on our website that we feel may be of interest to you:


Are surveys better than valuations?

Buying property at auction

Estate Agents

Can you trust a Chartered Surveyors valuation?



Independent Surveyors

We hope this article has been of interest to you but as we are only human, if you feel any of the information we have given is incorrect please do not hesitate to contact us.

Our Freephone number is 0800 298 5424. Please call us for all of your Building Surveys, Engineers Reports, Specific Defects Reports, Structural Surveys and Homebuyers Reports. We would love to hear from you.


Commercial Property

Regarding freehold or leasehold Commercial property you may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site .


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