Top 10 Tips for Choosing Your Next Home

Moving house can be a stressful experience, whether you are a first time buyer or getting ready to move up the ladder.

Having a plan in place before you begin will remove a lot of heartache from the process in the long run, so we’ve gathered our best tips together to give you a good head start.

1) Do the numbers add up?

Before you even begin a serious property search, you need to do your homework and find out exactly how much you can afford.

There’s no point falling in love with a house that is way out of your price range, so go and see your mortgage adviser or bank first to get an idea of the budget you are looking at.

And don’t forget the include additions such as estate agent fees, moving costs, stamp duty, etc…into your total.

2) Focus your search

When you start your property search, it’s important to have a few set parameters in place to begin with. Otherwise you could end up with literally hundreds of possibilities but not necessarily the best choices.

As you search, it’s helpful to use filters to narrow down your choices; do you want a garden? Off-road parking? Do you want 2 or 3 bedrooms? A city location or something more rural?

Ask yourself these questions as you search and it will help you to sift through quickly to find the right property for your needs.

3) Research lots of areas

You may have a general location in mind, such as a town or city, but it’s unlikely you’ll know everything about every area. Once you have picked a location, get online and start researching.

You might want to consider the following to narrow down your choices;

  • Nearby schools
  • Local amenities
  • Crime statistics

You should also consider local events, such as festivals or concerts, that may be happening nearby. Will that affect where you live due to parking or noise?

4) Think about transport

Whenever you move to a new area, you should always think about transportation. If you drive, you have the option of living further away from local shops and businesses if you want a quieter area, but if you rely on public transport, this may limit your choices.

Check bus times to see if you can still get about in the evenings or weekends, and how much local taxis might cost if you needed to use them. All of these factors can influence where you choose to look for a new home.

5) Visit at different times

Once you have picked out a specific area, or even chosen a house, you should try and make a few visits at different times of the day. This will give you a better idea about general noise levels, if parking is ever an issue, how busy the area is at night, etc…

Typically, most people visit prospective houses at the weekends or in the evenings, but if you are going to be living here 24/7, 365 days a year, you need to know what it’s like all year round.

6) Second viewings are vital

It is easy to get swept away when you visit a home you like for the first time. You’re trying to take everything in, while not looking ‘too keen’. First impressions are definitely important, but you will always benefit from a second viewing.

On the second time around, you can take things at a more practical and steady pace. You may notice things you didn’t see before, such as indications of damp, possible draughts in certain rooms, how good the natural lighting is, and so forth.

7) Use the loo!

You can learn a lot about a house – and more specifically, its plumbing – when you use the toilet. Check the water pressure is good when you flush, and if there is hot water from the sink when you wash your hands.

If you try and make different visits at different times of day, you’ll get an idea about how warm or cold the house is during the evenings as well.

8) Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to quiz whomever is showing you around, whether that’s the home owners or the estate agent. There’s no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to buying an home, so ask away!

They probably won’t be 100% honest with you about anything negative to do with the house, but you can certainly get an idea of things if you ask strategic questions.

For example, ask them why they are moving if it’s a homeowner, as they might reply that they wanted a ‘quieter location’ which gives you a clue about local noise levels.

9) Market research

If you are thinking about the offer you want to make, look around at similar properties in the area. This can help you to decide how close to the asking price you want to go.

You should also factor in any work that the home requires, such as double glazing or damp proofing, as this can give you leverage on your offer. Listen to your estate agent or financial adviser when they give advice about how much to go in with.

10) Don’t lose your head

When you fall in love with a new home, it can be easy to get fixated on closing the deal. However, sometimes things don’t always work out the way we planned and you might have to consider walking away if the situation requires.

It’s not worth getting yourself into financial difficulties, or ending up with a home you didn’t really love, just to get through the moving process faster.

There will always be another chance to find your perfect home.