Whether it's your first home or fifth, navigating the house buying process can be both time consuming and highly stressful, with many factors that need to be taken into consideration to ensure there are no hidden issues.
As the trend for remote working increases, and with many looking to move with the stamp duty holiday extension and 95% mortgage scheme, there are a number of important factors to consider when searching for a property, and it needn’t feel like an overwhelming task, with some helpful insights.
Steve Parker, director at FHP Living, said: “When it comes to house hunting, there is a lot to factor in when choosing a property - from its location and neighbourhood to the local amenities available nearby and the quality of the building itself.
“Whether you are looking for a contemporary apartment, period home, a country house or a new-build property, it’s always worth doing your research and checking every aspect of the home so you know exactly what you’re getting for your money. That’s why we have compiled this list of our top ten things to consider when searching the property market, to help create a checklist of points to factor in and look out for when viewing potential homes.”
Here are the top ten considerations for buying a property:
Choosing your budget is usually the first step you should make when it comes to finding a property.
Having a figure in mind for how much you can afford, and what you expect to get for your budget, will help you narrow down what is available to you on the market.
Carry out some research online to determine which features you would like your home to have – is a garden a priority for you? How many bedrooms do you need? Do you require somewhere secure to park your car? Asking yourself questions like these will help you to visualise the sort of property you are looking for, and what you are and are not willing to compromise on.
Depending on what you use your property for, whether it’s intended as a short or long term home, will also help you decide on your budget – it’s worth stretching your budget as much as possible if you are planning to invest in a home that you are going to spend many years living in.
Remember the other costs associated with buying a house too, such as mortgage broker fees (if you choose to use one) and solicitor fees, and factor these into your budget accordingly.
One of the most important aspects of any property is the amount of space it offers.
When viewing a property, try to look past the décor and envisage how each room might work for you – how you could change it, alter the layout and use different spaces in your daily life.
Considering the future is key, too, and depends on your individual circumstances – you may wish to start a family one day, downsize to a smaller property to retire or move once again in a few years, so any home you choose needs to be flexible to meet your changing needs, or have resale value in a desirable or up and coming area – so that the option to sell is always available to you.
When searching for a property, location is one of the first things we think about.
But beyond simply wanting to buy a home in a desirable area, consider the location in more detail – what sort of shops, bars and restaurants are nearby, and could you see yourself frequenting these places? Can you walk to get essentials, or do you need to drive? Are there parks and areas of greenery close by?
If you’re looking for a family home, check out the local schools and take into account their rating and what the morning school run might be like.
Most cities in the UK have suburbs and boroughs that are considered more desirable than others, and many will have ‘up and coming’ areas where houses prices are reasonable and expected to increase over time. Do some research by looking at the housing market in your chosen location, and read up on local news to find out about new developments being built in the area, how well the high street is performing and what sort of events take place – to give you a feel for the local community and the opportunity for investment – all of which are signs that a particular area is set to increase in its desirability.
The quality of a home – from the materials used to build it down to the finishing touches – will determine how enjoyable the space is to live in.
Practicality, aesthetics and performance are key aspects of a perfect home, with durability and value for money being equally important, to ensure several lifetimes of wear.
The ideal home is one that you can create memories in, and when planning for the long term, it is important to consider the quality of the home, so it will last for decades.
The finer details
It is not uncommon to spend less than half an hour viewing a property, but how well does this really show you everything the property has to offer, and what it might be hiding?
There are several aspects about a house that are not always visible but are nonetheless worth investigating, before making an offer – for example: whether there is damp, the quality of the plumbing and wiring, how many power points there are in each room, the condition of the roof, the attic or the basement, the age of the boiler and the type of insulation and glazing used.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about any aspect of the property – your estate agent or surveyor should be able to provide you with the information you need.
It is also worth checking to see whether the property is located on a flood plain, is underneath a flight path or sits close to a busy main road or train tracks, as these factors might help you to decide whether the property is right for you.
Fixtures and fittings
To ensure a richer quality of living, choosing a property that offers convenient and efficient fixtures and fittings will keep your family home running smoothly.
Spending a little extra on a home that comes with quality appliances or has the potential to install new fittings over time, will definitely be worth it for a more enjoyable living experience.
From high spec kitchen appliances and fibre broadband to smart technology such as lighting, heating and speakers – there is so much you can add to your home that is going to provide practical and useful features you’ll love.
Although working from home has become the new routine for many, the need to travel when circumstances return to normal may arise once again, so consider how close your new home is to travel links such as trains, bus routes and motorways.
The use of space in a home may change over time – rooms might become multi-functional, you may wish to convert a space into a home office, a gym or another bedroom, so keep in mind how flexible the space is before buying.
The popularity of open-plan living continues to increase and is an extremely desirable asset in any property, as it allows the space to be used in various ways and can easily be adjusted over time.
Outside space is a valuable feature of any property – be it a garden, patio, balcony or shared courtyard.
Choosing a property that has access to outside space has many benefits, as proximity to nature is known to reduce stress and can be good for physical and mental wellbeing.
Whether you have children, wish to create your own tranquil space to relax, enjoy some gardening or plan to invite friends and family over for a barbecue, outside space is a versatile feature and one that will only increase the value of a property.
Searching for the perfect property is not always easy, and you may find you have to compromise on certain things in lieu of higher priority features.
It is therefore worth considering the potential of each property you view – don’t simply write it off because it’s not ideal in its current state. If you are looking for a home to live in long term, consider whether extending the property would be possible.
Most homes with outside space will have the potential to be extended, but it is worth doing some research and seeking advice on this before purchasing if you think it is something you might need to do in the future.
Extending the kitchen or dining room, converting the loft, garage or basement, adding a roof extension, utility room or a new conservatory can add value to a property, as well as provide you with precious extra space to make your own.