If there’s one thing we’ve learned in our dealing with thousands of property purchases, it’s that there’s a lot involved in house hunting!
We’ve drawn on all this accumulated experience so that your experience is as smooth as possible.
Now that you have got your approval in principle, you can really get out there and get serious about that dream home.
Go view loads of houses
Seriously, go see them all. Most of the time, you’ve no idea what it is you’re actually looking for, what you’re prepared to settle on, or what your deal breakers are. Seeing places is the only way to really and truly get a handle on what you’re looking for, and you’ll soon become adept at spotting exactly what you love
Do lots of online research
There are a host of searches you should do before committing to ‘the one’. A Google Earth view from above may show up the recycling plant that failed to make it into the estate agents’ brochure. Doing a search on the Property Register will show you what other houses on the road or in the area have been fetching - so it can save you a lot of legwork going to places that are out of reach.
You don’t want to find out mid-winter you bought a property on a flood-plain just because you’re new to the area and didn’t know. Get your surveyor to watch out for any drainage issues by searching the local authority's drainage plans, either online or in its offices. Check this site to see if the property lies on a flood plain. Bear in mind you will be paying property tax, so check out what you will be liable for with a search of the Revenue Commissioners Property Valuation Guide.
Watch out for Pyrite. Seriously, if Pyrite was used in the construction of the house, it can expand and crack over time. But how to know whether this house is affected? You might want to check out this report commissioned by the government in 2012, identifying over 10,000 homes that were possibly affected at the time.
When you go to see a house, ask plenty of questions. The estate agent is not going to volunteer that there was an issue with subsidence a few years back, or the attractive pre-’63 planning means there is a drainage manhole underneath the kitchen extension.
Get ahead with your medical report
If you have ever had a health condition of any kind, the mortgage underwriters may want independent medical check-ups and all sorts of documentation. It can take months to get it all together, so make a start on it sooner rather than later as it could hold up your mortgage and therefore your ability to buy your house.
Get your own structural survey done
Investigate your potential house as much as is humanly possible. Besides getting an independent structural evaluation to make sure that there is nothing amiss in the walls, floors or foundations, see if you can do a little historical research about the house, or the land it’s on.
Check out the Management Company Accounts
If your dream property is subject to service charges, it's important to know how much they are and whether they are being put to good use. The management company – collectively controlled by the owners – is responsible for the upkeep of the development. It files annual returns which can be viewed on the Companies Registration Office
Check what's planned for the area
Check what’s planned for the area on the local authority website. You don’t want to find yourself spending the next few years living in the middle of a building site as a massive apartment block or sewerage scheme goes up between you and that lovely mountain view. You can use the same site to check the planning history of the house you are interested in. If you are planning an extension for extra space but find it has already been turned down, you will want to know.
Check it out after dark
That lovely ‘urban cool feel’ you get may turn into ‘urban war zone’ at night time, so if you can, check it out after the sun goes down.
Don’t plan on doing building work immediately
Unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s better to live in the place for a while and find out what exactly you want to do with the place – and more importantly, what needs doing, before jumping into massive renovations and extensions that you may not necessarily need.
Checklist, checklist, checklist
Bring a checklist with you and make sure you get the information you need so that you can compare this house to the other ones you are interested in easily.
Draw one with up the things that are important to you. Do a search on Pinterest for one to get an idea of what goes into one. But break it out into ‘Must haves’ and ‘Nice to haves’.
One last thing...
We really hope you enjoy the whole house hunting experience (it’s fun-honestly!) and you find that special place that you fall in love with.