Our recent experience with a first-time buyer demonstrates that clients aren't always aware of the right questions to ask when viewing a house. When our BHHS Sales team encountered a young mother-to-be whose heart was set on buying a Marylebone apartment, we were able to support her to make the right decision.
When one of our sales advisors took a call from a young woman called Sofia Chiellini, they were happy to arrange a viewing with her for a two bedroom property in Marylebone which she liked because it looked “light and airy” and aesthetically pleasing.
Once booked, it was at this stage she mentioned she was a single, first-time buyer looking for an apartment in central London and was expecting a baby in the next few months. Our sales agent wanted to suggest some more properties that may also be suitable for her needs to compare but she emphasised that she was only interested in this apartment.
Viewing an Older Property
The property was a well-appointed two bedroom apartment located in one of Marylebone’s attractive, Edwardian red brick mansion blocks. On the day of the viewing, Sofia was met by the member of our sales team, with the appropriate keys and brochures.
Although Sofia was excited to view the apartment, she was also keen to take in the aesthetic of the lovely period building as she had always wanted to live in something that looked historical but elegant. Our agent was starting to become aware that she was focussing more on the aesthetics than the practicality of the building so in the meantime, he was able to tell her something about its history, which he discussed can improve the value of a property.
While age and history can add value to a property, as a buyer it’s important to know what to look out for when you are viewing a listed house, or an apartment in an older building. If the property is listed, you should be aware of the implications of the grading system with regard to any future changes you might want to make. In the UK, historic buildings are listed as Grade II, Grade II* or Grade I, with Grade I being the most unique and important classification. With appropriate permissions you may be able to make some modifications to a listed building, but the higher the grade, the stricter the rules concerning alterations. You should also check whether any unauthorised changes have been made since the building was listed and what routine maintenance it will need.
All older properties may need more care and attention, and that’s something that our agent was able to mention during his discussion with Sofia.
The Risk of Buying with Your Heart
After several minutes admiring the block’s architecture, the pair took the lift to the third floor. On entering the apartment, Sofia excitedly rushed from room to room: commenting on everything from the attractive wet room tiling to the view from the master bedroom. It was clear that she had set her heart on the property, but our agent was aware that Sofia was in danger of buying with her heart, not her head.
There were several things she needed to consider. For instance, would she be able to fit her baby buggy in the small, old-fashioned lift? Had she considered she was slightly further away from the desired local schools? Although Sofia was keen to make an offer then and there, our agent felt that with a baby on the way, it was essential for her to be fully aware of anything else that might effect her when buying a house and any complications it could bring to her required lifestyle needs.
He went on to suggest that they make a quick house viewing checklist together. When you are viewing a property, it’s always advisable to come equipped with a list of questions to ask. Aside from the more obvious things, such as the size of rooms and overall condition of the property, you could look out for:
- Heating – when were the boiler and heating system last updated?
- Electrics – is the distribution board and wiring up to date?
- Security and safety – is the property overlooked, how secure are the access points?
- Kitchen – does the integrated equipment (washing machine, drier, fridge dishwasher) fit your lifestyle needs?
- Outdoor space – what is the orientation of your outdoor space? Will it receive the sun such as south-facing?
- Parking – is there the added benefit of parking or if not, what is the price of street parking and relevant permits?
- Neighbourhood - is the street noisy or quiet? Is the property close to local shops, bars and restaurants?
- Transport - are there bus routes, underground stations or train stations within easy reach?
An Informed Offer
Thankfully, our agent was able to go through everything with Sofia that might affect her and her baby’s life not only now but in the future and was able to answer anything specific in regards to her pregnancy needs that she hadn’t been focussed on asking before. Once she was aware of the all the advantages and disadvantages, she felt even more confident to make an informed offer guided by our agent. A few days later, our agent was delighted when Sofia's offer to the vendor was accepted.
While our agent felt that the apartment would have always been a great option for Sofia, he wanted her to consider her particular lifestyle needs first and all the practicalities they may bring. One advantage that he considered early on was that the apartment block was portered, an option that Sofia had previously been unaware of. Our agent was able to point out that it could be a real bonus in terms of the added security, support and trust she could expect as a single mother with a baby.
We Thrive on Happy Property Journeys
Owning a property is a big responsibility, and with most first time buyers there comes a moment when they experience doubts. As the transaction progressed, our agent was always there for Sofia, talking things through whenever she needed reassurance.
Fortunately, owning the apartment has turned out to be an excellent move for Sofia. Her baby, Theo - now six months old - is thriving, and she enjoys taking him to meet other young mums in nearby Regent's Park.
The support we were able to offer Sofia demonstrates BHHS London Kay & Co's commitment to be a 'Forever Agent.' As experienced estate agents in London, we'd love to help you find your ideal new home, so why not call us to start your home search today?