The questions that can save first-time buyers thousands in unexpected costs

Beyond the purchase price of your new home, there are a number of 'hidden' expenses that can quickly turn your dream home into a financial nightmare.

Related topics:  Finance,  Property,  FTB
Property | Reporter
4th April 2024

Buying a house is one of the most significant investments a person can make, so online mortgage broker Mojo Mortgages has shared a list of essential questions, tailored specifically for first-time buyers, to ask before making an offer on a house.

Mojo Mortgages says that the questions could potentially help to save over £20,000 in unexpected costs.

What is the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating?

Potential unexpected cost: £7,499

While the property listing often includes an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating, it's important to verify this in person to ensure its accuracy. The EPC rating provides valuable insights into the energy efficiency of a property, helping you anticipate monthly energy costs more accurately.

Interestingly, only 43% of homeowners have an EPC banding of C and above, which is considered efficient. For the majority of people, this can cost £7,499 to fix, however, government data shows that an EPC rating of C increases the property‘s value by an average of 10%.

How old is the boiler, and when was it last serviced?

Potential unexpected cost: £4,500

Boilers typically account for around 60% of your heating bills. However, they become more prone to breakdowns and malfunctions as they age, so it’s important to ask this simple question before making an offer on a house.

On average, a boiler lasts between 10 and 15 years depending on how well it’s maintained. Therefore, if the boiler in the house you’re considering buying is nearing this age, it may be wise to budget for a replacement. Keep in mind that the average boiler could cost up to £4,500, making it a significant expense if overlooked during the buying process.

Do your windows suffer from condensation?

Potential unexpected cost: £4,000

Condensation on windows is often an indicator of larger underlying issues in the home that may require attention and investment to properly address. While the condensation itself may seem like a minor problem, it can be a symptom of problems like poor insulation, inadequate ventilation, or excessive indoor moisture.

Ignoring these root causes and only treating the condensation superficially could lead to more serious and costly problems down the line. For example, if the underlying issues are not resolved, the windows themselves may eventually need to be replaced, which can cost an average of £4,000.

Are you leaving the carpet?

Potential unexpected cost: £2,200

While the appearance of the carpet plays a significant role in the overall aesthetics of a home, it's important to note that in some cases, the current owner may intend to take the carpet with them upon selling. Replacing the carpet in an entire house can come with an average price tag of £2,200. Therefore, it’s important to ask this question before making an offer.

Are you leaving your blinds?

Potential unexpected cost: £1,100

Likewise, window dressings can play a big role in the look and feel of a home. From controlling the natural light to enhancing privacy, they have many benefits but can come with a cost. Considering that the average house has 10 windows, dressing them in the most popular blind style, such as Venetian blinds, can cost an average of £1,100. Therefore, it’s important to ask the current homeowner if they’ll be leaving the blinds before proceeding with an offer.

Is the house damp-proofed?

Potential unexpected cost: £800

Not only can dampness damage brickwork, plaster and other materials, but it can havoc on the structural integrity of a building, potentially causing a collapse of the building. Should you find damp-related issues once you move in, the average cost of a damp-proof course is around £800.

Is the water pressure powerful?

Potential unexpected cost: £370

For many people, strong water pressure is a non-negotiable feature when buying a property. However, beyond personal preferences, adequate water pressure can significantly improve daily tasks such as showering, laundry and washing dishes. Should you need to improve the water pressure in the future, it’s likely to be linked to a leaky pipe. This can incur an average repair cost of £370, which is why it’s worth asking (and testing) out the water pressure before making an offer.

Does the house require a parking permit?

Potential unexpected cost: £107

Overlooking the need for a parking permit could also come with an unexpected cost. On average, a residential parking permit costs around £107[9] per year. Therefore, when viewing a property to make an offer, it’s important to ask whether a permit is required for parking and its associated cost. Doing this will help you assess the total cost of ownership and avoid any potential financial surprises.

How fast is the internet?

Potential unexpected cost: £100

Today, with many people working remotely and streaming television content, having fast and stable internet is more of a necessity than a luxury. Ideally, the internet speed should meet or exceed 200 Mbps, or even up to 5,000 Mbps if you have a fibre-optic connection.

However, if the internet speeds at the property are slower than this, you may need to invest in a third-party WiFi booster. These boosters can enhance signal strength and coverage, ensuring a more consistent and faster connection throughout your home. Prices for advanced boosters typically range up to £100.

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