Looking to buy a property? Make sure you’re objective when you view places and don’t let your heart rule your head. Christina Collison explains why.

Years ago, I almost bought a property that I would have found frustrating to live in. In fact, it would have been completely impractical for our needs. It was a new build, and my partner and I were seduced by the cleanliness of the place – the smell of fresh paint, the newness of the bathrooms and the sparkling marble kitchen. At the time, I honestly felt like I’d found my dream home.

With our mortgage agreed, we put in an offer and after a bit of haggling with the building company, it was accepted and we were over the moon. Admittedly, I was more in love with the place than my partner. I loved the idea of a home that no one else had lived in. The carpets were new, and the place just smelt so fresh and looked so smart. As you can imagine, I’m not the type of person to buy a ‘project home’ and would rather move into somewhere new and clean and not have anything to do other than relax on the sofa with a glass of wine.

Starting the buying process

We started the process of buying the property. While things were ticking along, we went back to the house several times. We did one thing that turned out to be very important. We went to the property during the week when other residents were home from work. The road was packed full of cars. It was difficult to even drive down the road. Then we took a closer look at our driveway and realised that we’d only be able to get one car on the drive. No problem, I told myself. I’ll buy a parking permit or even get a scooter. (I know, what was I thinking?!)

I had that nagging feeling you have at the back of your mind when you know something isn’t right, but you don’t want to face up to it because you don’t want to spoil things.

Eventually, though, we had no choice. There were a few other issues we just couldn’t ignore. One was more minor than the other. We asked if we could go inside the house to measure up. We revisited the lounge and realised that once we’d installed our large TV and sofa, we’d have very little room between the sofa and the wall. We’d be about a yard away from the TV screen when sitting down. My eyesight isn’t great but it’s not that bad!

Flood risk

And then there was the not-so-minor issue. The driveway was sloped downwards towards the front door and the door had no step. This meant there could be a possible risk of flooding. It wasn’t a risk we wanted to take.

We did the only sensible thing we could do and changed our plans. We ended up buying a different house that wasn’t a new build, but it was much more suitable. It was cheaper, as it wasn’t brand new, and had a bigger drive. It was also located in a quiet cul-de-sac and there were no issues with cars parked on the road. It was a much better purchase.

Overpriced and unsuitable

To this day, I often look back and think how fortunate we were that we didn’t buy the new build. It was over-priced and not at all suitable for our needs.

If you’re seeking a property, here’s some key things to find out before you commit:

• Will the property be spacious enough for your needs when you’ve put all your furniture inside?

• Is there sufficient parking? If this is important to you, then be sure of the parking situation before you commit.

• Is the boiler old? We did get caught out with the house we bought in that the boiler packed up a few weeks after we moved in. It cost £3000 to replace.

• Are there any signs of damp? A musty smell or mould are giveaways.

It’s easy to get taken in when you find a place you really like but try to view properties with an objective viewpoint. If you’re not sure, take a friend along with you and ask for their honest opinion.

Above all, don’t rush into anything and visit the place several times – preferably in the evening when residents are home from work – and you’ll find out whether the road is busier than you’d like.

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