Published: 22/09/2023Buying a property can be one of the most exciting and daunting experiences of your life. Whether you're a first-time buyer or you've been on the property ladder for a while, finding the perfect place to call home is no small feat. In fact, it can be pretty scary at times. There are countless factors to weigh up, decisions to make, and a future to envision. So, where do you start? For many, it’s about creating a list and ticking things off one at a time… keep it simple, and the stress should (don’t quote us on this) be kept at bay. Well, as much as possible!
Here's a down-to-earth guide to help you navigate the journey of purchasing your dream property.
1. Location Location Location
You've heard it a million times, but it's the golden rule of real estate for a reason. Location matters. It's not just about the property but the neighbourhood it's nestled in. Consider your daily routine. Are you a commuter? Do you value peaceful surroundings or crave the bustle of city life? Think about the accessibility of public transport, the proximity of schools, and the availability of amenities. Research the crime rate in the area and get a feel for the local vibe. Sometimes, the perfect home can be in the wrong place, which you'll want to avoid. Remember that there are many things you can change about a property, but there is not much you can do about a location once you have committed to it.
2. School Catchment Area
If you have kids or plan to start a family in the future, the school catchment area should be high on your list of priorities. Even if you don't have children, a property in a good school district can significantly boost its resale value. Do your homework on local schools: their reputation, academic performance, and extracurricular activities. Visit the schools, if possible, to get a sense of their atmosphere; what might look good online might not be the ‘feel’ you want for your children. Remember, this is not just about your four walls; it's about your children's future.
3. Commute and Transport Links
The daily commute can be a deal-maker or breaker. Evaluate your potential new home's proximity to your workplace. Are there good transport links? Can you easily access motorways, train stations, or bus stops? Don't forget to consider rush hour traffic; what may seem like a quick journey on a weekend might turn into a nightmare during the morning rush. A shorter commute can translate into more time spent with loved ones and less time stuck in traffic. In modern-day life, especially following the pandemic, people are looking for a better work-life balance, and less time spent on the road is part of that. Our main piece of advice would be to do your research.
4. Garden Size and Outdoor Space
Are you green-fingered or just enjoy soaking up some sunshine in your own back garden? The size and condition of the garden matter, so think about how you plan to use this outdoor space. Will it be a playground for kids, a sanctuary for your beloved plants, or simply a spot to unwind with a book and a cup of tea? Consider the maintenance required, too – a vast garden may be beautiful but will demand more time and effort to keep in shape. So many people get lost in the excitement of a large garden that they forget the practicalities…sorry to be the party poopers.
5. Opportunity to Extend
Flexibility is key. Even if the property meets your needs now, it's worth exploring its potential for expansion or renovation. An extra bedroom, a larger kitchen, or a home office could become invaluable in the future. Check local planning regulations and consider consulting an architect or builder to understand the feasibility and costs of any potential extensions.
6. Neighbourhood Atmosphere
The neighbourhood you choose will become a significant part of your daily life. Take the time to explore it on different days and at different times. It is crucial that you and your family feel safe walking around. Strike up conversations with potential neighbours as they can provide valuable insights into the community vibe. Trust your instincts; if something doesn't feel right, it might be best to keep looking. So many disputes are created by unpleasant neighbours that if you can avoid it, then do; nightmare neighbours are not at the top of anyone’s list of wants.
7. Amenities and Services
Living close to essential amenities can make your life much more convenient. Check out the proximity of supermarkets, healthcare facilities, banks, and post offices. It's not just about the big stuff either – having a corner shop for those last-minute necessities or a cosy café for your weekend self-care can add much comfort to your daily routine. Living off-grid and having nothing on your doorstep might seem appealing, but would the reality of it work for you…be honest? These are the kinds of questions that you need to ask yourself. And it’s better to figure it out now than once the keys are in your hands.
8. Budget and Financing
Before you fall in love with a property, know your budget. Get pre-approved for a mortgage so you know exactly what you can afford. Remember that buying a home isn't just about the down payment and the mortgage – there are additional costs like legal fees, surveys, and stamp duty. Factor these into your budget to avoid any unpleasant surprises down the line. It may also be helpful to look into how much living in a particular property will cost. We don’t just mean the mortgage; the energy bills can also be a significant expense. The EPC (energy performance certificate) is valuable for understanding these costs.
9. Gut Feeling
Last but not least, trust your gut. Sometimes, a property just feels right. If you walk into a house and immediately envision your life unfolding there, that's a good sign. Remember that buying a property is not just a financial transaction; it's an emotional one, too. If it feels like home, it probably is.
There is so much to consider…
In conclusion, buying a property is a big decision involving many factors. While this list covers many of the key considerations, it's essential to prioritise what matters most to you and your family. Take your time, do your research, and seek advice when needed. Finding your dream home may take some effort, but when you finally unlock that front door, it's a journey worth taking. If you see a property on our website that ticks some of your boxes, then give us a call.