Type ‘property’ into Google and you will get more than 2 billion results. That’s because unless you yearn to permanently travel the world in a Winnebago or live like a caveman foraging for berries in the wilderness, you’ll probably wish to own your own home at some point in your life.
Finding that perfect house is part luck, part research, and perhaps most of all a firm understanding of what is important to you in your new home.
Near the top of the list will be price you are willing to pay for a home. Clearly, this will be based on the value of the mortgage you can obtain, how much of a deposit you have saved, stamp duty and other extras that will need to be considered, such as surveys and conveyancing which could add a few thousand pounds on to the overall price. Searching online will only bring up the asking price and none of those extras. Bear this in mind when typing a value into the price search, but also consider that the final price is likely to be around 10% lower than the asking price.
Another of the criteria that will determine whether a property is right for you is the number of bedrooms. Clearly it’s important – a family of six obviously won’t fit comfortably into a two-bedroom home – but should be treated with caution. A four-bedroom house can be little more than three and a box, so check the dimensions of the rooms before deciding to take it further. That said, a small well-designed room might be better than a large but odd-shaped space.
Try not to be too picky with the photographs. Property stagers advise that the seller should make the home as depersonalised as possible, removing photographs and certificates from the shot and essentially trying to create a blank canvas for buyers to impose their own stamp. Some sellers don’t do so, to their own detriment, but it does not mean that you should disregard the property completely.
The trick, therefore, is to consider how the home could look, rather than how it does look. This writer, for example, purchased a home with a conservatory that was painted in a horrific dark blue shade – a couple of coats of white paint repaired the damage and made it look wonderful.
Every home has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, an urban home will most likely be closer to city facilities such as schools and police stations, but could be noisier and more intrusive. Public transport may be more accessible, but driving can be frustrating. The more open and adaptable you are in your choices, the higher your chances of success.
If you’ve picked out four or five homes that take your fancy, consider trying to find out more about the surrounding areas. We’ve mentioned schools, but also consider bus stops, shopping areas, post offices, vets, green areas, and any other facilities that are important or best avoided. Some police websites will tell you about crimes committed in a particular area, if this is something that you wish to find out more about.
The searching may take time and patience, and experimentation, across several different search portals. Do your homework and try not to be too prescriptive, while still focusing your time, and you’ll find some viable options soon enough. And then remember that these are simple tips for the search itself; the visit, the negotiations, the offer and the completion are a completely different ball game!