The questions you need to ask when making an offer on a property

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Ask anyone and I'm sure they'll tell you that buying a house is an exciting, yet stressful experience. Finding the dream house is just the first step - next you have to make sure you're actually able to buy it.

Don't panic, we've put together some simple steps and resources to follow when looking to make an offer on a property.

How quickly can you move?

The housing market moves incredibly quickly in the UK, especially in popular areas where there's a shortage of houses.

This means that if you find a nice property, it's probably going to be snapped up quickly. Rightmove say is currently takes about 63 days to find a buyer. So, if you see a house you like - don't hang about.

More than this, the seller will not only consider the amount you offer to buy the property for, but how quickly you are able to move in. For starters, this means the size of your chain. If you are chain-free, for example as a first-time buyer, then you are a more attractive prospect than someone tied up in an enormous chain.

So, if you're able to move quickly then emphasise that point because it will work in your favour.

Do you have a mortgage agreement in principle?

If you have an agreement in principle - essentially confirmation from a mortgage lender that they are willing to lend you up to a certain amount in order to buy a property - then it will also help your chances of having your offer accepted.

It's important to remember that an agreement in principle does not actually guarantee that you will be able to get a mortgage on that particular property. The property may not meet the lender's specific criteria for example. However, it's a good indication that you are in a position to access mortgage finance.

Alongside the agreement in principle, you'll need to demonstrate that you have a suitable deposit in place too.

Is there an up-to-date survey?

It's generally a good idea to get a property survey when you're looking to buy a house. This will give you a detailed idea of what condition the property is in, and flag up any issues that may need to be resolved.

Surveyors will provide different types of survey, with the most comprehensive also costing the most.

For example, according to the Homeowners' Alliance, a full building survey can cost up to £2,000 depending on the size of the property whereas a basic condition report is only likely to set you back around £250.

It's a good idea to make clear that your offer is subject to the survey. That way, if the survey flags up something significant then you can amend the offer or ask the vendor to fix it as a condition of the offer.

What's included?

Make sure that you find out exactly what is included within the property when making an offer. Are the vendors taking the fridge and freezer with them for example? Are you going to need to arrange for new cupboards in the bedrooms?

These costs can quickly add up. The vendor will have to fill out a form during the sales process confirming exactly which items are going with them and which are staying.

What are the running costs?

Being able to afford to buy the property is one thing; can you afford to maintain it as well?

Be sure to find out what the typical running costs of the property are when making an offer. This will cover things like typical energy bills and home insurance. If the property is classed as being in a high flood risk area for example, your buildings insurance is likely to be more expensive.

You can find what council tax band the property is in by entering the postcode into this section of the website.

How soon will it be off the market?

Gazumping is still an issue in the housing market. This is where a rival bidder comes in with a higher bid after the vendor has already accepted a bid from a different prospective buyer.

It can be heartbreaking when it happens, but there are ways you can protect yourself. For example, make a conditional offer that if your offer is accepted then the property must be taken off the market immediately.

What next?

Before you can even think about buying a house, you need to check that your credit record is in shape. You can do this with the likes of Experian, and Equifax.

Most people get their home loan through a mortgage intermediary - these brokers may have access to deals that you cannot get directly, and can help you find the right product for your circumstances. You can find an adviser in your area with the Unbiased website.

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