First-time buyers 'sleepwalking' into property problems

Lewis Stickley/PA Wire

Naive and inexperienced first-time buyers are ignoring the practicalities of owning a home, according to new research from HSBC.

HSBC asked 155 first-time buyers what questions they felt were most important to ask the vendor when buying a property and 100 estate agents what questions they would advise first-time buyers to ask.

The results revealed a stark difference in outlooks.
The survey highlights differing views; first time-buyers with a much more immediate outlook while estate agents identifying more practical questions pertinent to the longer term considerations of living in and owning a property.

According to the research, the major considerations for first-time buyers when looking for a property are location (35 per cent), size of the outside space (27 per cent) and local amenities (21 per cent).

However, few consider more practical aspects important to their search such as plans for development in the area (1 per cent), the condition of nearby properties (4 per cent) signs of subsidence (5 per cent) and the cost to update the property (6 per cent).

By contrast, estate agents placed much more emphasis on a longer term outlook when house hunting, with their primary consideration being the condition of the property - how well maintained it is (49 per cent) and whether there is documentation for property alterations (33 per cent).

Peter Dockar, Head of Mortgages at HSBC commented "It is important that first-time buyers consider more than just their immediate desires when looking for their first home, as otherwise they could well be in for a financial headache further down the line.

"While in the excitement of searching for their first property they may not like to think about the required maintenance or, the condition of items such as the boiler, these will be a concern if it is something that they have to pay to fix at a later date.

Doing your homework

It's imperative to check up on the condition of any potential property in detail. Be sure to check the overall condition of the house, and how up to date everything is. How old is the boiler? Is there double glazing? Is the central heating system in good condition? Is there any damp?

Be sure to take note of the condition of other properties in the area too - are there any visible problems?

It's also extremely important to get a good feel for the neighbourhood if it is unfamiliar to you. Walk around the area on a few different days, and be sure to see what it's like at night as well as during the day.

Mr Dockar advises: "Buying a home is a serious financial commitment so it is important that first-time buyers do their homework and are aware of all of the potential costs involved to ensure they can maintain the value of what is, after all, likely to be the biggest asset for most."
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