If you read our first post you will have seen there are a potential number of additional pitfalls to look out for when considering buying a home in a rural location. All of the issues listed in the first post (and probably several more) require careful due diligence to avoid.
The internet is a massive source of information and can help eliminate some risks but if in doubt it is always best to consult your solicitor. Research helps with an area you are unfamiliar with and can save wasting time travelling miles to view properties that may be eliminated as soon as you stand outside and spot a show stopping problem.
Online resources are especially useful for this. We loosely followed the steps and used the tools listed below to research each property we were considering. We were moving over 2 hours drive away so we did lot of research before arranging a viewing:
- Ask the Estate Agent lots of questions and don’t be brushed off by their opinion that something isn’t an issue if you believe it is, keep digging.
- Use Rightmove tools for:
- Local market information on recently sold and historical price
- Nearest schools and their ratings.
- Zoopla – for an estimate of the value of the property you are considering. Zoopla gives a range based on an algorithm but useful comparison to back up other research.
- Google maps/google earth:
- Road view
- Satellite view – great for looking at the neighbours and surrounding area. Don’t forget to zoom out. We found a quarry that put us off purchasing one property that was just over a mile away. Various industrial workings, sewage treatment plants, wind farms etc. can be spotted, any of which could spoil a potential calm space.
- Street view is great for an early indication of access issues and again to see how your potential neighbours keep their properties. You can take a look at the local high street, pub or green spaces all without leaving your home.
- Bing maps – ordnance survey feature to look at footpaths (or use a local OS map).
- Ofcom broadband checker plus, at least a couple of suppliers broadband availability checkers online.
- Call the local planning office if any potential issues with access over byways/tracks etc.
Of course, nothing beats viewing a property in person. Once you have eliminated any obvious issues with the methods above then a physical visit is a must. Standard advice is to visit a property more than once if possible. Visit at different times of day, during the week and at the weekend. It is also a good idea to visit in daylight and at night time to get a feel for the area. You may not arrange a viewing for each phase but it is a good idea to at least drive past at different times.
- Take notes and additional photos during the viewing. If you see several properties it can be easy to forget some of the important details
Once you have made an offer on a property it is important to arrange a survey, especially if it is a very old property. Consider if a standard homebuyer or full structural survey required. Additional specialist surveys may be required if specific issues are suspected such as damp, woodworm, septic tank compliance.
- Discuss any potential issues with the solicitor.
- Ensure they send relevant enquiries to the seller regarding any issues highlighted.
Visit the previous post for a list of Potential issues when buying a rural property