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Things you need to know when buying a property

a row of different colour houses

Most buyers decide to purchase or reject a home within seconds of walking through the front door; whatever their age, properties have an atmosphere and you don’t have to be oversensitive to feel something good, or bad. On paper a property may appear ideal, but if the initial vibes aren’t right, try to take your time to take it all in; you will find somewhere special to suit your needs and make you happy.

There are also issues beyond the look and presentation of a property, whether new or established, which can have an impact. So, it can be sensible to have a full surveyor’s report to identify any structural problems which may otherwise be missed; even brand new properties aren’t always constructed to the highest standard or in full compliance with planning consent.  Consider the different types of surveyor’s report available and decide which is best suited or applicable for the age and style of the property.

Vendors have a legal responsibility to reveal if neighbours have been ‘difficult’: loud music at all times of the day, trespassing, moving fences… etc. Solicitors/conveyancing experts will also protect your interests by checking for anything not included in the property deeds:

  • In rural areas, owners may be responsible for maintaining lanes (such as bridleways) bordering their land, whilst some new developments make residents responsible for communal site maintenance, including roads and play areas. In these circumstances, a residents’ management company is the best solution for controlling costs and employing contractors, but it will come with an annual cost.

  • Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) may apply in private gardens as well as public areas; you risk prosecution if undertaking any works without the Council’s permission. Preserving the environment is now regarded as an emergency by most local authorities, so there would be little sympathy for anyone breaching the regulations.
  • Vendors must own up if they have Japanese Knotweed, which can damage property foundations, providing evidence of treatment by approved contractors. Removing without following correct procedures can incur a substantial fine or even a prison sentence. The Environment Agency website ( is a source of appropriate advice.
  • Although little known, some property owners may find themselves liable for repairing local Anglican churches (usually in rural areas) dating from the Tudor period and earlier. However, insurance, costing an average £40, is usually available against potential claims.
  • In Conservation Areas, restricted covenants may apply, for example, limiting colours used when redecorating externally, or the location of satellite dishes! The same restrictions may apply to Listed property conversions or new builds on private estates.

If proposing to make any internal or external alterations to a listed property, consult the local Planning authority on its policies. Authorities may interpret national guidance differently, having a considerable impact on building costs; policies apply to all structures (including garages) within the curtilage. If buying a property second hand, with plans to extend, it would also be sensible to seek Planners’ advice in advance.

Having clarity on anything likely to affect current or future value is vital to agreeing mortgage commitments, as well as negotiating the price to be paid, and insurance.

Face to face consultations with our experienced mortgage advisers at our Mortgage Centres will provide peace of mind when buyers are confronted with any issues, including tailored insurance.

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