First time buyers,

how we can help you


Buying your first house can be a real problem, here is how we can help you and probably save you money too


first time buyers

If you are currently buying, or thinking about buying, your first ever property, we are independent building surveyors and can offer you help and advice with regard to the buying and selling process, independent property valuations, structural surveys, building surveys, home buyers reports etc.

How to value how much your new home is worth

first time buyersIt is often a mystery to first time buyers how property is valued, indeed it is often a mystery to almost everyone how property valuations come about.

Here is our simple guide to valuing your property.

Simple guide to valuing your property

In its very simplest form a valuation of a house is based upon a snap process. Yes, just like the game of Snap where you look to match identical cards to each other. This is what chartered surveyors are doing when they are valuing houses, they are looking for identical properties to the one that's being sold and they compare these against properties that have already been sold. Usually they are looking for at least three identical properties.

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first time buyers
Street of Victorian properties

The problem is that whilst it could be argued that some properties may look the same, such as the Victorian properties that we see and many others in our major towns, when you are playing a game of snap the cards are identical and with a property they are definitively not the same as they are often to start with in a different location.

Here are a few questions to help you understand how houses and homes are valued better:

Question One

first time buyers
Street view of 1930's properties

Is a house in the middle of a road worth the same as a house in a corner location?

Question Two

first time buyers
Red cross marks an example of a pub in a residential area

Is this in turn worth the same as a house that is next to a pub (this may or may not be good depending upon your viewpoint)?

Question Three

first time buyers
Park behind a house

Is this worth more than the house next to a park?

You can see the dilemma and you can see how opinions start to matter very much when a valuer values a property. There are a set of rules as to how a valuer should value a property. This is known as the Royal Institution of Charetered Surveyors Red Book and is what all regulated valuers should use. A regulated valuer is someone who is approved to carry out valuations and they are a type of chartered surveyor, often known as a chartered valuation surveyor, or chartered valuer.

Very important things for you to remember when you look at the value of property

It is very important to remember when looking at the values of property that when you are comparing properties and their prices you should be comparing actual sold value. These ideally need to be from the Land Registry, although it could be argued that in the time it takes them to be put onto the Land Registry there could be movement in the market but most surveyors much prefer the Land Registry as it should be factual and fairly good data, as opposed to asking an estate agent or financial adviser what they sold the property for, which of course could be very flawed if the estate agents are looking to sell another property and it's absolutely no use to compare the price that things were on the market for.

Don't you get caught in the estate agent's trap of values above Stamp Duty level

Typically estate agents pitch prices for houses at above Stamp Duty level knowing that the offers will be placed below Stamp Duty level.

Look for patterns in prices or steps in prices

first time buyers
Nationwide house price index

If you look in an area you will soon discover that one bedroom properties typically sell for one value, or sell at a particular value, and two bedroom properties sell at a different value, for example a two bedroom flat sells as a different value to a two bedroom house. Likewise, a three bedroom semi-detached house sells at a different price to a terraced or a detached house; so you will start to see patterns to these.

In addition to this the condition of the property makes a big difference, even the way it's constructed. For example, a three bedroom house that is 20 to 30 per cent cheaper than other three bedroom houses (and in this case we are talking about the for sale price) may be blighted in some way, for example it could be in a very poor condition; it really does depend on the area. This could mean that it doesn't have double glazing and everywhere else does, or equally it could mean that one house has been extended and altered and another house hasn't. Remmber not to compare apples with Thursdays.

If you can see a three bedroom house that is 25% to 50% lower than a typical three bedroom house in the same area (for example in the same postcode or in the same village or same area of a town or area of a city) then there is something fundamentally different between the two, as in our experience people never put properties on the market for below value (fall in the D category, which we will talk about later).

Non-traditional houses versus traditional houses, how you can make a mistake if you don't understand what you're buying

For example, in a case that we have recently, the three bedroom house was of a non-traditional construction, in this particular case a concrete construction, as opposed to a brick and slate or brick and tile roof, or stone and slate, stone and tile roof, which is known as traditional construction. This is generally harder to sell as mortgage companies are not as keen to mortgage them, in fact the majority of non-traditional houses are unmortgageable. Also typically they have problems with condensation and dampness and it's almost impossible to do anything about this due to the way they are constructed.

first time buyers
first time buyers

Post War non-traditional semi-detached property

Sketch of a metal frame non-traditional property

Compare the quality of our Building Surveys but don't compare Apples with Thursdays!

If you require a Building Survey or a Structural Survey on a home, house or commercial property we believe as Building Surveyors we have a wealth of experience and expertise that we can utilise to help you.

We are more than happy to send you examples of our Surveys that we have carried out on similar properties to yours and  we pretty much have always carried out a survey on similar property to the one that you are looking at, although we do appreciate that all properties are unique.

We really believe that you should see what you are getting in the form of an example Survey before you purchase a property. What is more is that we are so confident with our higher than average standards that we believe that there is no other comparable survey available in the UK property and surveying market.

Compare the quality of website, compare the quality of our surveys

Buying a house, particularly your first house is too important to leave to chance.

We have also written some articles that may be of interest to you:

First time buyers start here
Our experience of buying our first property
Do estate agents tell the truth or do they just want the house sale?
Buying a one or two bedroom conversion from a larger house which is leasehold or shared freehold
Problems with the NHBC Warranty
Non-traditional housing
Are surveys better than valuations?

People just don't sell properties cheaply, look out for the problems (often hidden problems)

We have in the past shadowed an estate agent for some time which made for a very interesting day. Our estate agent was what is known as a ‘Lister'and these are ones that try and get the properties onto the market with the estate agents and they have the very tricky job of carrying out a sales pitch and an almost intangeable service selling a person's house. They also have to play a juggling act or balancing act with regard to the value of the property as the owner will often have very high expectations of what their property is worth, and if an estate agent tells them too bluntly that it is not worth that much, or they simply won't be able to sell for that much, then the property won't be taken on. They could perhaps say to them we'll try it at that price for X number of weeks and see what happens. Equally the next Lister for a different estate agent could perhaps be more bullish and even advise that it's worth far more than what the owner thinks, yet really know it isn't and have the same intent as the first estate agent that they'll have it on the market for X number of weeks.

However, what happens if during those early days someone does come in and buy the property at that high a price then the estate agent gets the praise and the extra commission and ironically this helps them to get the next sale as everyone sees the house has sold at a good price. So it is very much a win, win situation for the estate agent and the seller to put the property on at a higher price.

When do people put properties on at a lower price?

first time buyersThis tends to be when they are in the ‘D Category'. This could be Desperate To Sell, possibly because they have had the property on the market for many months or even years and are in financial trouble for other reasons which is D for Debt, or they are Divorcing and they just wish to move on in life or there has been a Death in the family and again they may want to move on with life, or sell a property that's been given to them as part of a Will.

Equally, there are many people in these sitautions that simply don't lower the price, some would argue it actually makes them put the price up.

Do valuers from mortgage compnaies such as banks and building societies really value?

We have written a much longer, more detailed article on this, but often the argument from the chartered surveyor working for the bank or building society is that the ultimate proof that a property is worth what it is if it's been marketed correctly and the open market have decided at that point in time, for that partiuclar house, with a willing seller and a willing the buyer, that that is the open market value and is what the open market is paying.

So if the comparable evidence that they can find (plaing the game of ‘Snap') is as close as 10 to 20 per cent plus or minus the sales figure then the value is approved as being correct.

Don't believe everything you read in the newspapers and hear on the news

Strangely, we have recently had a conversation about a news item that we recently heard, which was that it was far cheaper to buy than to rent. It was very interesting as a structural building surveyor that our thoughts when we heard this was that coming into selling season, which is generally the spring and summer months (although some would argue there is also one just before Christmas where everyone's trying to get moved before Christmas and New Year), and this survey had advised that, as we have said, it's now cheaper to have a mortgage than it is to rent.

Sure enough it had actually been carried out by one of the big mortgage lenders so they very much had a vested interest in publicising this and of course it does act as a motivator to anyone renting to look at buying. It was funny however that the person that we were speaking to had also heard the news and it had prompted them to think why on earth were they still renting a property and they would be on the look out for a new property. So the publicity and the marketing had worked very well, but even more interestingly in talking to another client, they advised that when we mentioned this to them that they had thought back to many decades ago to when they were renting a property and had equally thought what a waste of money it had been all those years ago and that they had done very well with property over the decades.

This does of course depend upon when you bought your property as there are always booms in the market and always recessions in the market. It is great if you buy a property and the market goes up and up, not so great if it goes the other way and like anything if it goes up it can come down again too.

When buying a property remember ‘Caveat Emptor'

Caveat Emptor means ‘buyer beware'. This is why you need to have a building survey carried out by an independent chartered surveyor to find out if there are any problems within the property as the estate agent certainly will not advise you of any as remember the building surveyor that you employ will be the only person working for you with your interests at heart.

Commercial advert for our home surveys and how they can save you money

We would also like to introduce to you what we as structural surveyors call our ‘Good, Bad and Ugly' survey, which is a building survey, also known as a structural survey, which we have taken time to develop over many, many years.

We have taken on board feedback from our clients and amended and altered our building survey reports to make them easy to read and are written in plain English in an easy to understand format that everyone can understand.

Excellent Quality of our Surveys and State of the Art Equipment

first time buyers
Thermal imaging photo of a traditional timber frame property

We use state of the art surveying equipment on all our surveys, everything from 16x optical zoom digital cameras, plus thermal cameras if you so wish, to surface temperature testers and humidity measurers and anemometers, to specialist damp resistant meters, to knife tests on timber, to earth tests for electricity, etc.

Our surveyors will not necessarily use all of this surveying equipment when they carry out a survey as it is their expertise that identifies what is needed but it is good to know this surveying equipment is available if it is required

first time buyers
Taking damp meter readings

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have included is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

What do the red ovals / circles in our survey reports and website articles mean?

The red ovals and circles are a system that we used within our structural surveys and building surveys and our website articles to highlight problem areas in a property so that you are not left wondering what the problem is. In addition to this if we feel that the photographs do not explain the problem enough we also add in one of our own sketches such as the example that is shown here.

first time buyers

first time buyers

Black mould on walls

Black mould on walls

Feedback and Testimonials

We have been on the internet for a long, long time and know that there is a great deal of choice and we would emphasis you use your common sense and have a look at examples of chartered surveyors surveys before you buy. Double check the surveyor has the right experience and knowledge of a structural survey and the type of property problems that you have.

If you use our services we would welcome any feedback / testimonials that you may have.

Having a Pre-sales Building Survey on a beautiful Tudor property

The content of the website is for general information only and is not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision. Why not free phone 0800 298 5424 for a chat.

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