An Urban House
Buying Advice

Read on for advice on Buying an Urban House

The subject of house buying has been divided - Part 1, this page  and Part  2 for a Rural house.  As some properties hover between the two categories  it is suggested  that reading both sections would be an advantage. 

Money saving is essential so  beware of the many pitfalls that are lurking when you are hunting for an urban house.

When you are considering buying a property, location is the first priority.   Rural as opposed to Urban

Some people think they would like to relocate to the country only to find that they cannot cope with the slowness of life and in some cases the isolation and lack of facilities, particularly Broadband.  Also some rural communities can be quite closed and it can be a little while before you are truly accepted. 

This must be compared with the anonimity of the purchase of a rural house.  For some reason people no longer speak to each other as in the past.  This may be that many people are out at work all day and the sometime transient nature of the community.

If you have any doubts regarding the property go back and take another look.  The owners will priobably take this additional visit as an indication of your interest in their property and they need your custom  If you are able to visit at a different time - morning as opposed to afternoon/evening you may get a totally different view of the road.

With increasing numbers of flooding and whatever type of house you are considering buying, it could well pay you to have a LandMark SurveyThis company, Landmark Information Group, is a Daily Mail and Landmark Information company, with huge  informational resources behind it.

Most people have their own particular dreams of a definite type of urban house in mind.  Do you need to think of schools?  Also what about hospitals, shops, doctors, transport links, entertainment?

Another point to be taken into consideration.  Are you buying in partnership with another person?  It  is important that you both agree on these basic facts before wasting time on looking at an urban house on thich you will not agree.  Possibly your proposed partner will prefer a more rural setting?

Follow our money saving tips for maximum assistance.

Don't even think about buying

1.  An urban house next to a pub or fish and chip shop - unless, of course, this is one of your specific requirements.

2.  The best house in a poor area.  A better bet would probably be the cheapest house in a good area. which you can then improve.  Remember - Location, Location, Location.

3.  On an extrememly busy road or under a flight path.

4.  Next to a church, mosque or other religious venue - unless you feel you can cope with this.

5.  On a flood plain.  Be particularly aware of this when considering the purchase of a new build.  Ask the builders directly and seek out local information.

Here are several pointers to be borne in mind when considering the purchase of an urban house.

What is the general nature of the road?  Visiting at different times of day may hold a clue.

Neighbours.  Here vendor is honour-bound to be truthful.  Do they have any disputes with neighbours regarding over-hanging trees, boundaries etc?  Remember as well as a property buying exercise this is also a money saving exercise.  You do not want to sleep-walk into any potential legal hassles.

Some points to be considered are:

1.  Period Property is a term often used by estate agents.  What period?

2.  When no measurements are given to a bathroom you can conclude that it is a case of standing room only!

3.  Boiler house ususally translates into boiler cupboard.

4.  Walk-in pantry can mean a side-ways shuffle into a cupoard.

5.  Do you need a study?  Estate Agents often designate a large landing space in this way.  Not very condusive to privacy!

Bear in mind that Estate Agents are acting on behalf of the Sellers.  You are an urban house buying expedition. and although these agents need your custom they also need the commission they will receive from the Sellers.  Therefore, in the first place they see their duty as lying with the Sellers.

Then there is the resident owner to cope with.  In many cases truth seems to fly out of the window.  When there are obvious signs of death watch beetle and dry rot in the woodwork, why deny it?

An additional piece of information here - it applies to both urban and rural properties.  Cockroaches can survive for a considerable amount of time without their heads.  If ever there was a case for calling in a pest exterminator surely this is it?.

If you can find a property without all the usual Estate Agent embroidery it is probably well worth a look.  An even greater bonus is when the owner is honest and forthcoming.  Just remember to ask all the right questions as there is a lot of money riding on this purchase.

Having said all that, some Estate Agents are much more helpful than others.  You will just have to sort them out to save yourself unnecessary waste of time and disappointment.  A floor plan is an asset but not provided by every Estate Agent.

If a floor plan is given mark the measuriment of your existing rooms on the new floor plan.  This is a quick and easy way of comparing the two properties before you even visit.

In an urban house some of these at present being constructed seem to have had the building standards pared down to the very minimum.

At the time of writing an official enquiry is being launched into this very fact.  Some roof timbers appear to be extremely thin for the weight of the tiles to be carried.  Your surveyor would need to pay particular attention to this.  In addition some modern buildings are now timber framed.  Unless the timber used is well seasoned this can store up shrinkage problems in the future.

Another unexpected factor to be taken into consideration if whether the urban house you are considering buying is built on a flood plain.  A fact has been highlighted in the press recently is that almost the entire city of Hull is built on a flood plain and that the local council is without flood insurance.

Another point to watch is wood rot on outside buildings.  After a succession of wet summers it is worth paying attention to any wooden sheds, out-houses, fences etc.

This whole subject of flooding stresses the need for 'buyer beware' - caveat emptor.

Custom Search

When buying an urban house that is semi-detatched check the dividing walls are solid and sound-proof.

No matter how pleasant your neighbour may be you do not want to know everything that goes on his house.  Also, from your point of view you need your privacy.  It is virtually impossible to sound-proof a property when you can hear such noise as a light being clicked on and off next door.  (Fact!)

This is another point to be considered when you are inside the property you have chosen.  Can you hear when is going on in the bathroom when you are in an adjoining room?  Take a friend/partner with you so that you can personally check this out, i.e., one of you visit the bathroom and use the facilities.  Sometimes this can be quite an ear-opener and unfortunately many urban houses are known for this type of fault.

Remember this inside of most properties, unless they are very old, is likely to be of stud-work (plaster board walls) and unless sufficient insulation was inserted when the property was originally built, this is going to be very expensive to rectify.

Beware of a shared drive.  This is another area of discord where an urban house is concerned.  If your neighbour has grown-up children and they have cars, is there sufficient room for you and your family as well without continual shifting around?  Also, are they likely to be night-owls?  Also when it comes to repairs to be done to the drive this can cause problems.

Regarding fencing you are normally responsible for the fence to your left-hand side when you are standing in the back garden with you back against the wall of the house. Clarify this point  before contracts are signed as you need to be aware of your responsibilities.  Try to gain an allowance if the fence has been seriously neglected.

In addition some treatments on an urban house such as cavity wall filling and sealing of the tiles from the inside of the loft can cause problems.

Flat roofs on extensions and garages- a common feature on urban houses - need to be treated with caution as they can be a source of leakage.  An ideal flat roof should have a fall of about 4 degrees in order to allow excess water to flow into the gutter and then into the drainage system.

Take a look at what buildings, if any, are on one or either side of your chosen property.  If there is a commercial building next door and it is not thriving, there is always the chance that it will be sold and converted to housing.  With the constant rise in the population there is a driving need for additional housing so in-filling is a top priority.

Ask the seller as many questions as necessary.  It may pay to take a notebook with you listing all the points you wish to raise and you should make a note of the replies you are given.  This is a sobering action where the seller is concerned.

If you are given a load of flimflam you should ask yourself "What else are they hiding?"  You may just have this one chance to get information, and remembering how you must save money and not get caught, give this your 100% attention.  Sometimes it may be wiser to walk away.

It boils down to caveat emptor (buyer beware) and do your own research.  Don't rush into anything.  It is like a marriage - marry in haste, repent at leisure.

It often pays to talk to a neighbour living further down the road, particularly where an urban house is concerned.  One such chat brought to light the fact that all the owners in the road had sold part of their front gardens to the local authority for future road widening at an unspecified time in the future.

Whilst a Search by your solicitor is fine, if you do as much of your own detective work as possible beforehand you may well unearth information which will makle you change your mind about the property in question.  You will then avoid the expensive stage of instructing your solicitor to perform the Search.

When you think you have found your suitable property, before putting in an offer to the Agent, go back for a second viewing on another day and at a different time.  It is not necessary to make an appointment with the owner of your chosen house, just sit in your car and quietly observe what goes on. 

During the course of a day the character of a road can change.  Is it used as a rat run to the next town? What happens to the road during the evening?  An urban house setting is often full of surprises.

On your second internal visit look objectively at each room - will your furniture fit in?  Look at all the finer points.  Also if you are moving from a period rural house to an urban house, will this new house take kindly to your style of furniture?  Can you live with it?

When a Surveyor/Valuer from a Building society inspects any property their main concern is whether the society will be able to recoup any money they loan to you, not the construction of the house.  This survey, at time of writing, will cost you in the region of £600 plus and take about 15 minutes. of the surveyor's time.

If you have any abouts about the structure of the house you may be wll advised to employ a surveyor, who, if he is independent, will have your best interests at heart.

This subject is fully covered on our new page and is well worth a read.  It is an accurate - been there, done that - account of engaging a surveyor.

Another expensive item, is the actual moving operation itself.  Removal firms do not come cheap any more.

Prior to the move, sort through all your belongings and discard anything that you have not used for the past ten years.  Are they to be kept for sentimental reasons?  Do you really need all these chose clothes that you have not worn for at least two years?  Sheds, garages and lofts can be notorious places for hoarded amd forgotten items.  You need to be ruthless.   You may be able to dispose of these items either via or maybe eBay

If you can manage to pare down your belongings you should save money - a smaller van might be possible, and at the very least you will save time and effort in loading and unloading at the other end.

  • All these points should help root our and discard any unsuitable properties.
  • Think very hard before you act.  Compare all the information and details you have dto hand.  Get as much advice as possible.
  • Go back to the house of your choice and make a second inspection.

Most important of all -

Think and save money.

 Have we covered everything.  Please let us know.

One last point, be extra vigilant when the estate agent is selling his own house.  This should be stated somewhere in the house details.

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