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Lets take a look at a brief 7-point checklist for anyone buying a home:
Leasehold vs Freehold - There are two main types of property ownership in the UK and you should always check which applies to the home you're buying. Leasehold means you effectively own the land on which the property is located for a defined period of time; extending this can incur a substantial fee. For this reason knowing the length of time remaining should be a key consideration. Freehold is more straightforward, although the details of the deed should always be checked over by a reputable solicitor.
Access - Never assume you have automatic access rights to a property, and be sure to check this thoroughly before you buy. Relying on a neighbour's goodwill for access via a shared drive, for example, can be risky and if circumstances change you could be left in a difficult situation.
Boundaries - A property's legal boundaries may not be listed on the title deed. While physical boundaries (such as a fence or hedge) appear more obvious it is always worth consulting with your estate agent at viewing stage to ensure there is no confusion. Remember, you will be responsible for any trees or plants on your property that hang across boundaries.
What's listed? - Although listed buildings are a fairly well-known phenomenon, their restrictions can be complex, therefore it pays to check what the listing covers. For example, the status of features like fireplaces and windows should be checked before refurbishment.
Planning Permission - Just because an extension or loft conversion looks the part, doesn't necessarily mean it has planning consent. Always check that any additions to the property have full written planning permission, otherwise you could be left with the cost and responsibility of reverting the property back to its original state.
Block Parties - If you live in a shared block it can be managed in different ways, and this should be something the selling agent can clarify. On occasion, a block may be managed by an external agent, or the other leaseholders may have taken on management responsibilities as a group ('Right to Manage'). In both cases it is prudent to establish in advance what this means for you, both in terms of fees and responsibilities.
Future gazing - Remember to ask your agent if they are aware of any planned developments in the vicinity of the property. Under the revised consumer protection regulations, agents have an obligation to declare any information that consumers need in order to make informed decisions.
Remember that our experienced Dockside team are here to help, so feel free to ask us any questions.