Buying Guide

House viewing tips and tricks

It’s essential that you make the most of a property viewing to ensure that you’re as informed as you possibly can be when it comes to making an offer

The average viewer spends 20 minutes viewing a property before making an offer, Don’t remember the things you should have looked for after you have left.

1. Is there damp?

The main giveaway signs are a mouldy smell, flaky plaster, and watermarked walls or ceilings. It sounds obvious, but make sure you look closely near the ceiling and around the skirting boards. Another clue might be if the room has just been repainted – possibly covering any damp

2. Is the building structurally sound?

Big cracks are what you are looking for – but you should expect some hairline cracks. Look especially around where extensions join, end-of-terrace walls, and bay windows, all of which can start to fall or bow away from the rest of the house. You’re looking for issues now that you can ask the homeowner or estate agent about and then ask your surveyor to investigate later. But you can only look for what you know; a chartered surveyor with years of experience is trained to spot risks and know what needs attention. For more information on whether you need a surveyor see What sort of survey should I have?  

3. How much storage space is there?

Storage space is a valuable but often overlooked asset. Where will you keep your vacuum cleaner, towels, spare linen, and boxes of junk? Is there room for cupboards or shelves to be built in? Especially in newly built houses, storage space can be scarce.

4. Which way does the house face?

In winter, during a cloudy day or at night, it is difficult to tell the difference between a north and south facing house or garden – but in summer it can make the difference between a home that is full of light and warmth, and one that is frustratingly dark. Your favourite plants might notice too, and protest by dying. Don’t be shy about taking a compass with you to the viewing – you might have one on your phone. With bi-fold doors all the rage, be aware that in moments of sunshine the solar gain can make the room unbearably warm, so try to visit and spend some time in that room when the sun’s out.

5. Are the rooms big enough for your needs?

We’ve heard of new build home developers putting smaller furniture in rooms to make them seem bigger. Be warned! Assuming you won’t be buying all new furniture as soon as you move in, will your existing furniture fit?

Buying a new build home? Get a snagging surveyor to check eveything is up to scratch

6. Have you been fooled by staging?

Cleverly placed mirrors, strategic lighting, delicious smells, cosy fires, and fresh licks of paint are all tricks sellers use to make their home more appealing. It’s nice to feel you can move straight in without having to do a thing, but try to remain objective. And if their furnishing make the space, take photos and ask what they are leaving behind. Perfect light fittings, for example, can take an age to find and replace!

7. Do the window frames have cracking paint? Is the double-glazing intact?

The state of the external window frames is a great indicator of the state of the house – if people have invested in and looked after those, they are likely to have taken great care of the rest. If you can easily push your finger into wooden window frame, they are usually rotten. If there is condensation between double-glazed window-panes it means that they are faulty. New windows need to be installed by a registered approved inspector so you should get a FENSA or similar certificate, which often come with guarantees. Ask if this is the case.

8. How old is the roof?

Replacing a roof is an expensive business, and newer roofs have a life expectancy of only 15-20 years, depending on the materials

Also, if the property has a flat or nearly flat roof, check out the material with which it sealed. Nowadays a membrane is used and is better than asphalt and gravel, which can leave seams and edges unsealed

9. Are there enough power points and what condition are they in?

Dodgy wiring can be dangerous, and rewiring your new home can be an expensive business. Also check out the fuse board – often an indication of the state of the wiring but a survey will confirm if it needs replacing. Having enough plug points is apparently a big selling point in our increasingly gadget driven world so worth taking note on the way round.

10. Is the plumbing up to scratch?

Run the taps to check the water pressure. Ask if the pipes are insulated, and ensure they are not lead which would have to be replaced. Do the radiators actually work? How old is the boiler? If the hot water tank is situated in the roof it is probably an old one, and may have to be replaced soon

11. Is the property adequately sound-proofed?

If the sellers have the radio or television on ask for it to be turned down to ensure that you can’t hear your neighbours’ every word.

12. What’s the attic like?

People often ignore the attic, but it is an important part of the house. How easy is it to access? Is there much storage space? Could it be converted into extra rooms? Is there insulation? The latter can make a huge difference to your bills and general comfort in winter.

13. What’s the area like?

  • Are you near a pub or bar or kebab shop that becomes rowdy in the evening?
  • Can you walk to shops to get a pint of milk, or do you have to drive?
  • Is it easy to get to public transport?
  • Are there noisy roads or train tracks nearby?
  • Are you underneath a flight path?
  • Is there a local dump in smelling distance?
  • Are you near a school that makes it impossible to get out of your drive at school run time?

And most importantly, does it feel like you could make it your home?

If you do like a property, arrange another viewing for a different time of day, and scout out the local area a bit more. If you can, take somebody with you who might be able to notice things you don’t.

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Truuli’s Local Guide To Croydon


Croydon is a wonderful suburb in Surrey that is undergoing major reinvention with a modern city feel. The Council is now working with the Mayor of London on the Croydon Opportunity Area. An Opportunity Area Planning Framework (OAPF) has been proposed for the town centre to coordinate this investment. Work is underway on five masterplans underpinning the preparation of this framework: East Croydon, West Croydon, Mid Croydon, Fairfield, and Old Town. There are also a number of public realm improvements planned collectively called ‘Connected Croydon’. In 2017, it was announced that the borough topped CoStar 50’s 2016 Occupier Index, naming it the place most in-demand for office space in the UK.

The area is now home to one of the countries tallest residential buildings, Saffron Square and £3.5 billion has been committed to consented and proposed development projects, with more in the pipeline. The locals eagerly await the long overdue 1.4 billion Westfield Shopping Centre that will cement the area as one of the new go-to places for shopping and dining. Croydon has already had an injection of new culture with Boxpark and its arrays of food and drinks spots including food from Mexico, Brazil, Spain and the Caribbean; the multicultural area is always thriving day and night and is next door to East Croydon station.

Truuli Estate Agents Boxpark Croydon


Croydon has three mainline stations as well as the famous tram link that opened in 2000 and remains the only tram link service in the South East. Fast trains from East Croydon can take you to Victoria or London bridge within 18 minutes, and you can also get to Gatwick in 15 minutes with many locals deciding to use the Gatwick Express rather than driving to the airport.

West Croydon also has a good service into London, however, trains are not as frequent as if you travelled from East Croydon. There is also a tram link which connects Croydon with Wimbledon, making stops via Mitcham Junction – going in the opposite direction you can get into Beckenham Junction and Elmers End. All Croydon stations arein Zone 5

Truuli Croydon Tram


Since the infamous riots of 2011 the area as seen a much-needed sea of exciting change. There are different styles of properties from 1930’s, Victorian and Georgian. We also have new build developments going up in the area at a phenomenal rate proving there is a lot of demand for living in the local area. The Plinth block next to Boxpark has its own beautiful roof garden and 161 flats in a 9-storey building changing Croydon’s Skyline to a lovely scenic picture. This particular development forms a part of the Ruskin Square development which will soon have 5 office buildings and over 600 new homes, shops and restaurants.


In Croydon there are local areas in Shirley and Sanderstead that promote staying power, and what we mean by this is the residents want to stay there and live happy ever after. These particular areas have a very strong community bond and everyone knows everyone.

The main postcode area in Croydon is CRO but there are other postcodes that are serviced by the area including CR2. There is an up and coming area in Croydon that is called Forestdale, which is a neighbourhood of 1970s houses that are very popular and affordable. Forestdale is connected to Croydon town centre by two tram stops.

Croydon central and North are controlled by the Labour party at present, with Croydon South being controlled by the Conservative party.


Croydon has an abundance of good schools, ranging from Primary, Comprehensive and Private schools. As with most areas, the Ofsted ratings of local schools is fairly patchy as they rate from “need improving” to schools that get “outstanding” We advise you to check the Ofsted reports of your chosen school. A few of the popular primary schools are Park Hill Infants in Stanhope road, St Marys RC in Bedford Park and St Johns CofE in Spring Park Road Shirley.

One of Croydons most famous comprehensive schools is the Brits School for Performing Arts and Technology (currently for 11 – 18 years olds) which has turned out some famous former students such as Adele, Leona Lewis and Tom Holland; the school is located in the Selhurst part of the Croydon borough.

There are also some famous academies in the area such as Oasis in Shirley and the Harris Academy in Shirley. If you wanted to send your child to a private school, they are in abundance with age ranges from 3 through to 11 and then 11 onwards, such as Elmhurst boys, Maple house, Royal Russell and Croydon High.

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Truuli Estate Agents - Potential Costs when buying a home

Potential Costs When Buying A Home

Purchasing a property should be a joyful occasion, however, it can be a stressful process without the correct planning and preparation. As well as a mortgage, there are other costs too…


Mortgage Deposit and Interest rates

The amount of money you have saved towards your home purchase can have a big impact on your future monthly mortgage repayments. The more you have saved the better the mortgages on offer will be. The deposit required to purchase a property is usually a minimum of 5% of the cost of the property you are looking to buy, however, a deposit equating 15% of the property price will you will get a much better deal. The average UK property price is currently around £177,000 that’s £8,850 or £26,550 for a 15% deposit just to get started.


When obtaining a mortgage, depending on the amount you have borrowed and the percentage provided within the deposit you may be accountable for paying a higher lending charge. This is essentially a charge for your lender to insure themselves in case you fail cover the repayment costs and they become forced to sell your house at a loss. In this event the lender retains the right to request the money lost from you. In most instances, the higher lending charge is usually around 1.5% on the amount borrowed.


Whilst not all products will incur this fee, another potential upfront cost to consider when organising your mortgage is the arrangement fee. This can cost you in excess of £2,000 but can be added to your mortgage amount, however doing so can incur interest and increases the costs involved throughout the duration of your mortgage. Setting up any mortgage may also incur costs, with some lenders charging you a booking fee of between £100 to £250 – this is often refundable if your mortgage application is unsuccessful.


Account Fee

This is usually a one of fee covering the costs of running your mortgage account from the initial set up to the day of its closure. In most instances paying an upfront account fee means you won’t have to pay an admin fee when repaying it.


On most occasions the mortgage lender will not charge an account fee but they may cover this in the form of an exit fee. The exit fee may be charged in the event you leave your lender prior to the end of the arranged mortgage whether it be to re-mortgage, sell the property or obtain another mortgage for a new property. Account fees usually range from between £100 and £300.



Solicitor Fees

Having a competent conveyancer can sometimes make or break a sale. Most conveyancers offer a ‘no sale, no fee’ service meaning you will only be billed after a successful purchase. Make sure you ask any potential conveyancer if there will be any additional costs as some may charge for the length of the transaction and/or for sending letters and communicating with estate agents. At an additional cost, your conveyancer will organise the relevant checks with the council including a search of any planning and local issues that may affect the property as well as a search of the drains. They will also raise property queries with the selling solicitor and review your mortgage offer once the bank has confirmed the property purchased is suitable for lending.



Valuation & Surveys

When lending you money for a home purchase the mortgage provider will ascertain the amount you are eligible to borrow and will want to know the property being purchased is suitable for lending. In order to do this, they will undertake a valuation survey of the property.


You may choose to get obtain an additional survey of the property at additional cost, this may be cheaper if conducted at the same time as your valuation. Surveys vary in cost depending on how extensive they are; a straightforward valuation starts at around £150, however, a home buyer report for which you will have a professional assessor visit the property in question and carry out a structural survey and a far more in depth assessment can cost as much as £1500.

Stamp Duty

In England and Northern Ireland, you are liable to pay Stamp Duty when you buy a residential property, or a piece of land, costing more than £125,000 (or more than £40,000 for second homes). This tax applies to both freehold and leasehold properties – whether you’re buying outright or with a mortgage.


If you’re buying a property in Scotland you will pay Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and in Wales Land Transaction Tax (LTT) instead of Stamp Duty.


There are several rate bands for Stamp Duty. The tax is calculated on the part of the property purchase price falling within each band.


For example, if you buy a house for £275,000, the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) you owe is calculated as follows:

0% on the first £125,000 = £0

2% on the next £125,000 = £2,500

5% on the final £25,000 = £1,250

Total SDLT = £3,750



Ensure you have booked a removal firm and calculated the time it will take to move from one property to another. Some removal companies charge by the hour so ensure you know what time you are due to collect keys from the previous owners; most completions take place between 12-2pm.

If you have any further questions or would like to arrange a free ‘Cost of Move’ appointment with a Mortgage Expert call us 0333 043 0002 or e-mail s[email protected].

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What are the different types of mortgage available?

What are the different types of mortgage available?
Selecting a mortgage can be tricky. We would always recommend speaking with a qualified mortgage expert who can ensure you have not only sourced the best deal, but also that you have taken out the best mortgage for your needs, both now and in the long-term future.

Here is a list of all the different types of mortgages available in the UK:

repayment mortgages interest-only mortgages fixed rate mortgages
variable rate mortgages tracker mortgages discounted rate mortgages capped rate mortgages cashback mortgages offset mortgages
95% and 100% mortgages flexible mortgages first time buyer mortgages
buy to let mortgages

Repayment mortgages
This is the basic way of repaying all mortgages, however specialised they are, apart from interest only loans which are different. With repayment mortgages, each month you repay some of the interest you owe plus some of the capital you’ve borrowed. At the end of the period, most commonly 25 years, you’ll have paid back everything you owe and you’ll own your home outright.

In the instance that you move prior to the end of your 25yr term, you may be able to take the mortgage with you (‘porting’ your mortgage) or you can repay the original loan and take out a new one.

Interest only mortgages
With interest-only loans, you only pay the interest month by month and repay the capital at the end of the full mortgage term period meaning monthly repayments are lower than with any other mortgage. This is quite different from a repayment mortgage because at the end of the loan you are required to repay the whole debt in order to retain ownership of the property; some mortgage lenders may insist you show them how you intend repaying the loan at the end before granting an interest-only mortgage.

With an interest-only mortgage you may be able to switch to a repayment loan at a later date at the discretion of your lender.

Fixed rate mortgage
A fixed rate mortgage is where the rate is fixed for a set number of years – usually 2, 3 or 5. The benefit of a fixed mortgage is that you know exactly how much you’ll be paying each month for that length of time, regardless of what happens to interest rates on other mortgages.

Should you be in a fixed term and notice interest rates are much lower on other mortgage products, you can get out of your fixed rate mortgage but there’ll be an early repayment charge to pay. When the mortgage comes to an end, you will be placed on the lender’s standard variable rate (SVR).

Variable rate mortgages
Every lender has a standard variable rate (SVR) mortgage. The rates for these are partly influenced by the Bank of England base rate but other factors may influence these as well. The interest rate you pay on an SVR mortgage can change even without the base rate moving and similarly the base rate might come down but your mortgage rate stays the same.

Tracker mortgages
Tracker mortgages move in line with a nominated interest rate which is usually the Bank of England base rate. The actual mortgage rate you pay will be a set interest rate above or below the base rate. When the base rate goes up, your mortgage rate will go up by the same amount, and vice-versa when the base rate comes down.

Some lenders set a minimum rate below which your interest rate will never drop but there’s no limit to how high it can go. With the base rate at 0.5% and an add-on rate of 2.0%, your mortgage rate will be 2.5%.

Discount rate mortgages
The discount is a reduction on the lender’s standard variable rate (SVR). Mortgages with discounted rates are some of the cheapest around but, as they are linked to the SVR, the rate will go up and down when the SVR changes. Discount rate mortgages tend to have fixed periods, typically between 2 and 5 years.

Capped rate mortgages
This mortgage offers a variable rate mortgage but one with a ceiling on how high the interest rate can rise. As both interest and mortgage rates have generally been low in recent years, the majority of lenders have not been offering capped rate mortgages.

Cashback mortgages
When you take out this particular mortgage the lender will give you money back, typically a percentage of the loan. These mortgages generally do not tend to offer the most competitive rates and you should look carefully at the any additional fees that may be incurred.

Offset mortgages
Offset mortgages are linked to a savings account and combine savings and mortgage together. Each month, the lender looks at the mortgage balance and then deducts the amount you have in savings. You pay mortgage interest just on the difference between the two. For example, if you have a mortgage of £100,000 and savings of £5,000, your mortgage interest is calculated on £95,000 for that month. This helps to reduce the amount of interest you pay but the mortgage rate is likely to be more expensive than on others on offer. You can still access your savings if you need to but the more you offset, the quicker you’ll repay your mortgage. In the instance you use your savings to reduce your mortgage interest, you would not earn any interest on them but you will not pay any tax either.

95% mortgages
With 100% mortgages now being pretty much non-existent, a mortgage with a 5% deposit is usually the next best option. Rates offered with a 95% mortgage tend to be quite high and with such a small deposit you are potentially at risk of falling into negative equity if house prices go down.

More information for people with 5% deposits is available on the government’s Help to Buy scheme website.

Flexible mortgages
With a flexible mortgage you can choose to pay in more than your regular amount when it is convenient for you (this option is also available on many other types of mortgage). And, unlike other mortgages, if you have already overpaid you can pay less if you hit a difficult patch or even take a payment holiday and miss a few payments altogether. Due to the flexibility offered, the mortgage rate will often be higher than on other deals available.

Buy to let mortgages
Buy to let mortgages are for those who want to purchase a property and rent it out rather than occupy it themselves. The amount you can borrow with this particular mortgage is partly based upon the amount of rent you expect to receive. In most cases a first-time purchaser is unlikely to be accepted for a buy to let mortgage.

Our mortgage experts will assist in sourcing the mortgage that suits you best. There’s no obligation and no charge for our service, call us on 0300 043 0002 or e-mail [email protected]

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Choosing your mortgage

There are many options available in terms of mortgage choice. Be sure to do your research to secure the best advisor for obtaining your mortgage…

In order for agents to take your enquiry seriously, we recommend that before you even start your property search, you make sure you are in a position to obtain a mortgage.

The best place to start is by undertaking a credit check on yourself in order to see what position you could be in financially and also to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises like that old phone contract you forgot to cancel. New rules have seen lenders become more stringent with lending money based upon what you earn against your outgoings. Sorting your finances before you start your search can also save you time when battling against all those unwanted sales pitches from the agents you register your details with.

The Deposit
The deposit required to purchase is usually a minimum of 5% of the cost of the property you are looking to buy, however the more deposit which is available, the much better the deal you are likely to obtain from your mortgage lender. A deposit of 25% of your property price would be an ample amount to ensure you were offered some of the best mortgage rates available.

With house prices having increased dramatically over the past few years, coupled with increase living costs, many first-time buyers have struggled to raise suitable deposits for a home purchase. To aid, there is a government Help to Buy Scheme which is a two-part scheme designed to help buyers get that foot on the property ladder. The initial part comes in the form of an interest free loan which can increase the percentage you can afford on your deposit, resulting in a better mortgage deal. The second part of the scheme offers your bank or building society a guarantee of 20% on your property value, again only with the input of 5% from the homeowner. This essentially allows a homeowner who can only afford a 5% deposit to secure a mortgage deal based on a 20% deposit of the property value. This latest scheme has helped those at the lower end of the deposit scale to secure better deals.

Sourcing a mortgage broker
Whilst there are a number of comparison sites which can be used to source mortgage rates, we would always suggest speaking with a qualified professional who is listed by the Financial Conduct Authority, meaning they are unauthorised to provide you with mortgage advice.

When making a final decision on a mortgage broker try and decide upon one whom
has access to rates across the whole market rather than one whom is tied to a group of lenders. Mortgage brokers whom are not whole of market are similar to those at your bank, they will only sell you a range of particular products meaning you may potentially miss out on better deals elsewhere.

Don’t be afraid to ask any broker you are considering using how they are paid and how extensive their range of offers are. Some mortgage brokers will work on a percentage fee (of the loan amount), and others will charge an upfront fee. Be sure to ask when the fee is payable, whether it is still payable if your purchase does not go ahead and also whether there will be further charges for re-mortgages and future home moves. Many brokers offer a life time service meaning their fees are a one off.

Other things to consider are….

  • How long have they been a qualified mortgage broker?
  • What qualifications do they hold?
  • Are they offering information only or advice?
  • What lender do they conduct most business with, and why?
  • What is their complaints procedure should you encounter an issue?

If you require any help, or just have a query, call us on 0330 043 0002 or email us at [email protected]

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