You’ve made the decision! You’re finally going to buy your first home, or you are looking to move to pastures new. There are a lot of considerations to take into account when assessing the necessary criteria to meet your own personal requirements – not just now, but in the future too. In this blog we look at some of the things you need to consider.
The majority of home hunters start their property search with online property sites; Rightmove, Zoopla or OnTheMarket. Savvy buyers will also register with local estate agents so that they get to see suitable properties before they go on the portals.
When browsing properties you should think about lots of different criteria:
Affordability – what can you afford to spend on a property? Read our blog ‘A Complete Guide to Buying a Home’.
Location – location, location. The region or town you want to live in is often considered the most important aspect of choosing a new home. Under this heading comes a multitude of other things to think about; local amenities of the immediate neighbourhood – shops, doctors’ surgery, schools, pubs, restaurants, parks, walks – the list goes on!
Transport Links – you should check your commute to and from work and/or school, whether you intend to use public transport or your own mode of transport.
Apartment or House – flats are nearly always leasehold, so you will pay a regular service charge and you may have to renew the lease.
New build or Second-hand – new builds can be appealing as they will be clean and energy efficient, and you may be able to make some decisions about fixtures and fittings (e.g. kitchen cabinets, tiling, lighting etc.). However, new builds may be more expensive than a similar second-hand home – this is known as the ‘new-build premium’. Second-hand homes can provide more opportunities for improvements to tailor it to what you need and allow you to add value to the property.
Number of Bedrooms – consider how many bedrooms you need now and how many you may need in the future.
Energy Performance – how is the property’s energy performance? What would need to be done to improve it? This information can be found on the property’s Energy Performance Certificate or EPC although certain properties are exempt from providing EPCs.
Living Space – think about your lifestyle and storage needs. This is very often underestimated with most people concentrating on the number of bedrooms when searching for a home. However, you spend more of your quality time in the kitchen or living areas so should you make this a priority?
Internet Speed – do you need fast internet for work or leisure? Do you have teenagers that ‘game’!
Car Parking – if available, is parking on-street, on a drive, or in a garage; and are there any parking permit costs?
Scope for Extending – would you be able to extend the property or convert the loft or garage to make more space?
Garden – do you want an outside space? This is now much more of a requirement for a lot of people. How much maintenance are you able and willing to do? Would the space be yours or would it be shared with other properties?
Conservation Area or Listed Building – check if the property is included on the National Heritage List as this may affect your ability to make changes to both inside and outside the property. Such properties may qualify for Energy Performance Certificate exemption.
Condition – some properties are immaculate and need no work; others may need updating and some may need considerable renovation or repair. You should think about how much time and energy you have to make the necessary repairs.
Drawbacks – properties on busy roads, backing on to railway lines, or located some distance from shops and public transport routes are often cheaper. You should make sure you are happy to make any compromises before you buy. These properties may also take longer to resell.
Ask the Agent
You should find out as much as you can about any properties you are interested in to help you decide which, if any, to buy.
Things you may wish to ask the estate agent include:
Is there anything I should know about the property before I put in an offer? Ask your estate agent for the material facts about the property as they are legally required to pass this information on to you.
How long has the property been on the market? If it has been on for longer than 3 months ask why they think it isn’t selling. Is there something other people have been put off by, or is it overpriced?
Is the property part of a property chain? A chain is where a number of people are buying and selling their properties at the same time. How many people are in the chain? Will the sellers need to tie in their own purchase?
How long have the owners lived there? If it is a short period of time you may wish to find out why – for example, there may be an issue with noisy neighbours.
Has the property repeatedly changed hands or have previous sales fallen through? – if so, why is that? You can check the former online by looking at ‘sold property price’ data, which will also tell you what price the seller paid for the property.
If you are interested in a property, you should consider visiting it several times if the seller is agreeable. Visiting at different times of the day can be helpful – for example, traffic in the vicinity may be busier at certain times of the day.