What to Look for When Viewing a House - Free Checklist

One of the most exciting parts of buying a home is going on property viewings. House viewings let you see what’s available on the market (for your budget), and is when you’ll be stepping in your new home for the first time – even if you don’t realise it yet!

What is a Cash ISA?

Just like a savings account, a Cash ISA (Individual Savings Account) is a safe, secure way to store your money. The only difference is that any interest you earn on your savings is tax-free.

What are the benefits of an ISA?

There are many reasons to opt for a Cash ISA over alternative savings accounts. Not the least of these, is that they’re a great way of saving for your future. Other benefits include:

  • Currently, all basic rate taxpayers can earn £1,000 of tax-free savings interest per year, under the Personal Savings Allowance (PSA). However, there is no guarantee that this won’t change in the future. With ISAs, you’re guaranteed your savings will always be tax-free. Investing your allowance each year means you can grow your savings without having to pay any tax.
  • If you were to opt for an alternative regular savers account and savings interest rates increased, the money you’d saved may tip you over the Personal Savings Allowance limit.
  • Some types of Cash ISA come with the added benefit of government boosting. For example, the 25% government bonuses offered with Help to Buy ISAs and Lifetime ISAs. 

Are ISAs tax-free?

Yes, with a Cash ISA you can rest assured your savings are not only tax-free, but safe from changing regulations.

The only time when a Cash ISA isn’t exempt from tax is if you are aged 16 or 17 years old, and the money in your account is a gift from a parent. If this is the case, your parents may have to pay tax if parental settlement rules apply.

Cash ISA rules

  • To be eligible for a Cash ISA, you must be aged 16 or over and a UK resident. The only exception to this is in the case of Lifetime ISAs, that require you to be 18 years old
  • You can only open one Cash ISA per year
  • You have a single ISA allowance each year, which you can divide between a Cash ISA, a stocks and shares ISA, an Innovative Finance ISA and/or a Lifetime ISA. With a Lifetime ISA, the maximum allowance is £4,000 each year, meaning you have up to £16,000 to split between the other types

How much can I put in an ISA?

The total amount you can put into a Cash ISA for the 18/19 tax year is £20,000. This is known as the ISA allowance and is available to every person over 16 in the UK. You have the choice of using up the maximum allowance in one account, or splitting between the different types of ISA products.

Any interest your ISA earns doesn’t count towards your Personal Savings Allowance.

When is the ISA deadline?

The ISA deadline is midnight on 5th April each year; this is the end of the tax year. Any unused allowance doesn’t roll over into the new tax year, so you should try to make the most of your allowance before the deadline comes around. For more information on the ISA deadline, refer to our ISA deadline guide.

What are the different types of Cash ISA?

There are a number of different Cash ISAs available to help you achieve your savings goals. Whether you’re saving for your first home or setting up a nest egg for your golden years, there’s an option to suit you.

Fixed Rate ISAs

A Fixed Rate ISA pays a guaranteed amount of interest for a set period of time, from six months to five years. Though withdrawals are permitted, they’re subject to penalties. Consequently, a Fixed Rate ISA is better suited to those who won’t need immediate access to their savings.

Help to Buy ISAs

A Help to Buy ISA is a government scheme designed to help you save for a mortgage deposit on your first home. To qualify, you can’t own a property anywhere in the world.

You can save up to £200 a month in a Help to Buy ISA, and they come with the added bonus of government contributions. In this case, your savings could be boosted by 25%. The minimum government bonus is £400, so you will have to have saved at least £1,600 to qualify for a government bonus.Please note, Help to Buy ISAs are due to be withdrawn in November 2019.

Lifetime ISAs

A Lifetime ISA is a tax-free savings account that also offers a government bonus of 25% on top of the money you put in, up to a maximum of £1,000 a year. With a Lifetime ISA, you can deposit as much as £4,000 per year until the age of 50. Lifetime ISAs can only be opened and funded by those aged 18 to 39.

Junior ISAs

Junior ISAs are tax-efficient ways of saving for your little one’s future. You must be 16 or over and a UK resident to open a Junior ISA on behalf of a child, or be a child aged 16 to 18 to open one for yourself. The Junior ISA allowance for 2019/20 is £4,368.

Find everything you need to know about Junior ISAs here.

Refer to our Cash ISA page to discover the full range of ISAs available with Newcastle Building Society.

How many ISAs can I have?

You can have multiple ISAs at one time, but you can only open or pay into one of each type of ISA using your £20,000 allowance. 

Though you can only open one Cash ISA each tax year, there’s no limit to the number of ISA transfers you can make, should you spot a better interest rate with another provider. However, with Newcastle Building Society, you can open multiple cash ISAs using our CustomISA service. You can find more about that here.

What happens if I take money out of my ISA?

Withdrawals are permitted from most ISAs. However, if you make a withdrawal from a Fixed Rate ISA, you will be subject to a penalty in the form of a loss of interest on your savings.

If you think you will need access to your savings quickly, then you may be best suited to an ISA that doesn’t penalise withdrawals.

In relation to the Lifetime ISA a penalty of 25% of the withdrawal amount will be deducted unless the funds are being used for either:

  • Buying your first house (the account must have been held for a minimum 12 months)
  • You reach the age of 60
  • You are diagnosed with a terminal illness and have less than 12 months to live

Can I transfer my ISA to another provider?

You are permitted to unlimited transfers each tax year. However, you should always check that your new provider accepts transfers, as not all banks and building societies are obliged to do so

Avoid withdrawing money from your ISA yourself, as your savings may lose their tax-free status!

There are a number of reasons you may want to transfer to a new provider. For example, if you’ve spotted better rates elsewhere. Read our complete guide to the ISA transfer process for more information.

Can I inherit an ISA?

If your spouse or civil partner passes away, you will be eligible to receive an Inheritance ISA Allowance. Read more information about inheritance tax allowance in our helpful inheritance tax allowance guide.

Applying for a Cash ISA with Newcastle Building Society

If you'd like to apply for a Cash ISA at Newcastle Building Society, the process is really simple. We also accept ISA transfers, including Lifetime ISAs. To get the ball rolling, simply browse our Cash ISA product range or contact us.​

What to look for when viewing a house for the first time

When viewing a house for the first time, try and be as impartial to it as possible. Even if it is love at first sight, you want to be able to imagine yourself living in the property, yet still be objective enough to see the house in a realistic light.

If you’re buying a home by yourself, it’s always a wise idea to take someone with you for a second opinion, moral support, or just to share the excitement with you when you find ‘the one’!

The most basic things that you should be looking for when viewing a property are:

  • Does it have everything that you want, and really need? Consider the number of rooms, the kitchen and bathroom facilities, and garden, garage and parking availability.
  • Are the rooms big enough (with storage) to fit your belongings in?
  • Is the property in good condition? Look past the décor, which can be changed - are there any signs of damp, damage or rot inside or outside the property?
  • Will the property require any renovations or repairs to get it to the standard you want?

Make sure you check all of the rooms, including storage areas, but pay special attention to the bathroom and kitchen, which can be more expensive to refit than any other room. If they aren’t to your taste, you’ll need to consider whether you have the budget for replacements. 

You should also inspect the exterior of the building, including brickwork, guttering and roof tiles, as well as the garden and garage if there is one. Look closely, as some damage can be disguised or covered up by a coat of paint. When you’re outside, listen out for any noise from nearby roads, railway tracks or airports too, and this is a good time to consider which direction the property faces – if you’re a sun-lover, you’ll need to check whether or not the property is south-facing. 

Feeling happy with it? Make sure you view the property more than once. If you think it’s the one for you, return a second time to double-check, and take another person for a different perspective. If you’re seriously interested in the property, paying for an expert home buyer’s survey  would help to identify any potentially expensive issues that you may have missed during your viewing, and may also provide the information you need to negotiate a lower purchase price with the seller.

 

What to ask when viewing a house

There’s information that may not be obvious or accessible to you during your viewing, so you may need or wish to ask the seller or the estate agent for additional details. Some of these questions may be…

  • Related to the sale of the house: Why is the property being sold? When is the seller looking to move? How long have the owners lived there? Have there been any previous offers? How long has the house been on the market? What is included in the sale?
  • Related to the condition of the house: Have any major works taken place? Is the property listed? How old is the property? How energy-efficient is the property? Have any rooms been recently redecorated or refurbished? How old is the boiler?
  • Related to the area: What are the neighbours like? Do the sellers have any insight into the neighbourhood? What are the rules around parking? What is the traffic around the area like?
  • Related to bills: How much is the council tax? How much are utility bills? Is there a service charge for any communal areas?

Our good-to-know tips on house viewing etiquette

Viewing someone’s home can feel daunting, and it’s hard to know what to say, do and how to behave! Here are some guidelines you can follow to ensure you get the most out of your property viewing, whilst building positive rapport with the sellers, who you may need to negotiate with if you decide to put in an offer.

  • Be on time – The seller may have other viewings planned and you don’t want to leave them waiting
  • Don’t bring too many people with you – Stick with 1-2 per viewing
  • Offer to remove your shoes when you arrive
  • Ask the seller if you want to take pictures, check behind doors or look in cupboards and drawers
  • Don’t be critical of the home in front of the seller, or talk about improvements you’d make – You can make notes on your house viewing checklist to consider or discuss these after the viewing
  • If you like something in particular about the home, tell them - It gets your relationship off to the right start
  • If you need to cancel your viewing, do so as soon as possible

How to use our house viewing checklist

The list has been designed for you to download and print in A4 size, so you can take a copy with you to any viewings you attend.

The list covers everything you need to know from the start to the end of the viewing, so you can follow it in order as you look around the property. There are comment boxes that you can use to make a note of any questions you may have for the seller or estate agent, or any points you want to research, or thoughts you want to consider later.

We’ve also included a list of key questions to ask during your viewing, so you can get all of the information that you need to make an informed decision. And if you do decide that it’s the right property for you, you may find our blog post on how to make an offer on a house  helpful when deciding how much to offer, for the best chance of being accepted.

We hope you find our house viewing checklist useful, and it helps you towards finding your dream home!

Download our Free House Viewing Checklist here

House Viewing Checklist - 1

House Viewing Checklist - 2

 

If you have any questions about buying your first home, or the mortgages we have available for all types of buyers, one of our qualified mortgage advisers will be able to assist. You can call us or book an appointment at the Newcastle Building Society branch nearest to you.

Your mortgage will be secured on your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

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