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21st Nov 2019

First-Time Buyer Guide: 11 Things To Consider When Looking At Property

Brian Dillon

When trying to get onto the property ladder, there seems to be an endless list of things to think about and consider.

Well, we’re here to help.

Since 2018, we have been helping first-time buyers through the whole house-hunting process.

We have hosted fun and informative brunches, highlighted certain areas and properties around Dublin, provided valuable advice and answered burning questions.

Now, our pals over at Perfect Property are here to help. They’ve put together a list of things to consider and look out for when searching for property.

Note: Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, many sellers are providing virtual viewings, so make sure to explore this option first!

1. Ask about certified heating

Nobody wants to spend the first winter in their new home absolutely freezing. Moving into your dream home should be exactly that: a dream.

Make sure to ask the estate agent if you can have a look at the boiler. It should have a sticker with the date it was last inspected. Most houses with gas heating systems have annual boiler inspections, so if you notice there’s no sticker, that’s a bit of a red flag.

2. Take note of noise levels

This is something that can easily be missed when viewing properties. Make sure to use your ears as much as you are your eyes.

Take a moment to listen to how loud/quiet the surrounding area is. Too much noise pollution may have a serious impact on your quality of life.

Open the window and suss it out. Some people aren’t phased by a lot of noise, but if you’re used to having peace and quiet, make sure to listen and take note when at viewings.

3. Do a planning search

The neighbourhood may look a certain way when you view it at first, but when you do a quick search of what is planned for the area, you may realise that will soon change.

All of the councils have a planning search tool with which you can simply type in an address to see what developments are planned for the area.

4. Explore the neighbourhood

The property itself is only one part of your living experience. It’s important to note what the area itself is like.

Know what you want and what you don’t want. If you’re walking around and spot things that you simply don’t want to live around, then consider whether the property is actually for you.

Also, don’t be afraid to stop locals and ask them about the area.

5. Look out for mould

If there’s one thing you don’t want in your brand new place, it’s mould.

Be on the lookout for little black spots on the ceiling, or use your nose to suss out if there’s any waft of damp.

If you get a surveyor in, they’ll be able to confirm whether or not the house has mould, for the most part. If the property isn’t well ventilated, there may be black spots that the surveyor missed.

Fixing the issue can be expensive, so it’s important to check every nook and cranny.

6. Test the water pressure

Nobody likes a weak shower. Water pressure is essential for a good shower.

Turn on the shower and see if the pressure is to your liking. If not, suss out how expensive it would be to get it fixed.

7. Take into account the cost of renovation

Unfortunately, the price of buying the property isn’t the only cost involved in the process. So it’s important to take into account the total cost in your budget, not just the price of the house.

Make it clear to the estate agent how much you’re willing to spend in total, including renovations.

8. Get an expert to confirm how much renovations will cost

When coming up with your total budget, you’ll need to know how much the renovations will cost before you know how much you have for the property itself.

For example, your budget might be €400k, but renovations may cost €50k, so your budget for the actual property is €350k.

9. Consider proportions and layout rather than square footage

Remember, bigger isn’t always better. And more often than not, how the house is laid out is more important than how big the property is.

You could build extensions in the future, so maybe consider the space around you as well as the actual space within the walls of the house.

10. Consider how you could add value to the property

After having bought a house, it’s important to consider how you could allow it to appreciate in value, or stop it from depreciating, at least.

Adding improvements and extensions to the property may pay for itself in the long run.

For example, converting an attic space or building onto the back of a house can add considerable value to it.

11. Consider how much light gets in

Natural light is by far better than artificial light. Natural light lifts your mood and your energy levels. If you have ever spent a considerable amount of time in a dimly lit space, you’ll know it can be quite grim.

Take note of how the light can enter, and which way the sun shines on the house throughout the day.

Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is an authorised agent and servicer of AIB Mortgage Bank u.c. in relation to the origination and servicing of mortgage loans and mortgages. Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. and AIB Mortgage Bank u.c. are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.