Free information tips for home buyers

Buying new home isn’t a decision that is taken lightly. Having already spent a lot of time thinking about your requirements before narrowing down and choosing a property, you will no doubt want to find out as much information as you can.

These days, there is a great deal of information available online for prospective buyers that are willing to spend a little bit of time doing their research. Here are some recommended sources of free information that are freely available on the internet…

  • Flood Risk Information Service – this is the government’s free website that advises whether a property is in a flood zone. The website allows you to insert the post code and it will advise whether there has been a history of flooding and / or what the risk level is in respect of rivers overflowing, or surface water etc. Checking whether the property is in a flood zone is of ever-increasing importance. If a risk of flooding is identified you will need to make sure that you can get buildings insurance, and on acceptable terms.
  • Google Earth – this can provide aerial views, not just of the property as it stands but also how it was previously. Historical aerial photographs are available, so you can see if the property / site has undergone changes over the years. There is also a measuring tool that enables you to roughly measure distances such as the size of the house and the garden etc.
  • LCC’s Mario – if you are in Lancashire, then you will be able to access LCC’s Mario website that provides maps and shows features such as nearby public footpaths that might run across or nearby to the plot. Other counties will have similar… These are free online service where maps can be accessed.
  • Radon maps – this tells you if the property is located in a higher risk / known radon area. Radon is a natural gas from the ground, which can cause health problems.
  • Nethouseprices – this site provides basic data on the dates and prices of recent sales.  As Surveyors, we have access to much more data that helps to inform and guide our Valuation Reports. However this is a useful source of information to prospective buyers.
  • Zoopla – Zoopla can also provide useful information to buyers on a property’s previous sale price and date. It can also be possible to locate old pictures of a property, sometimes from previous marketing exercises when the house had been for sale in previous years, which may provide useful information to buyers.
  • Local Councils’ Planning Authority websites – these allow access to previous planning applications (approvals and refusals) e.g.
  • Local Authorities’ Online Mapping websites that shows tree preservation orders etc. e.g.
  • The Coal Authority – this enables purchasers to see whether the property is located within an old coal mining area
  • Additionally, it can be useful to check the Planning Authority’s website to see if the property is Listed or in a conservation Area, or whether there have been any recent Planning Applications (either approved or refused).
  • Property searches – if you have appointed an experienced Conveyancing Solicitor, they will help you through the process and will undertake a number of ‘searches’ on your behalf. These include Local Authority searches, environmental searches and water and drainage searches.

First and foremost though, our main recommendation is to have the property inspected by a Chartered Surveyor who is experienced in assessing the condition and value of a house. There are several types of condition survey reports available, the main two being a Homebuyer Survey and a Building Survey Report. Chartered Surveyors have years of experience of inspecting properties day in, day out, and can therefore provide a wealth of information on a property to a prospective buyer.

For more information on the surveys we have on offer or to discuss which survey is right for you, please contact us.