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House hunting is always exciting, but it’s all too easy to get carried away with aesthetics. Buying a house is a big financial undertaking, so it’s crucial to stay objective and consider the more practical things such as location, condition of the property and affordability.

Your new home needs to suit your lifestyle, family and finances. To maximise your chances of finding and choosing the best property for you, we have put together a short guide to help you with your house hunting endeavours.

Affordability

You should always stay within your means. Figure out how much you can afford, considering your deposit and the ongoing mortgage payments, and stick to viewing properties in this price range. If you view properties outside your budget, you may feel tempted to push the boat out a little too far and end up overstretching yourself.

Location

The location of a property can have a significant impact on lifestyle. Particularly with regards to local amenities such as schools, shops, restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues. Whatever your lifestyle, the location of your home should support it, so make sure you do your research. You should create a list of your requirements and cross-reference them with each of the properties you view.

The location can also have an impact on how quickly the value of your house will increase. If you spot an up and coming area with local development such as a train station, retail park, or housing developments, it might be a sign of rising house prices.

Basic Condition

Whether you are looking for a doer-upper, a blank canvas, or the finished article, you need to ensure the house you choose suits your budget. When at the viewing stage, you should assess the cost of getting the house looking the way you want. You should look at what needs attention and estimate a cost at getting these thing repaired or replaced. For basic décor, check the walls, floors and carpets. The more expensive improvements are kitchens, bathrooms, conservatories and windows.

If it looks like there are more severe issues, you should make sure that the list price reflects the cost of carrying out the essential works. If you are willing to take on a property which needs a partial or full renovation, you should proceed with caution and adequately price things up. Your surveyor can help with this after you have had an offer accepted. An RICS Building survey would usually be carried out on a property which needs renovating.

The issues mentioned above sometimes lead people to opt for a new build property, especially first-time buyers. Although house builders sell their newly built properties at a premium, they are entirely ready to move in and save a great deal of time.

Note: In addition to your own assessment of the property at the viewing stage. You should always instruct an independent RICS surveyor to professionally asses the condition of a property before you make any commitment to purchase

Tips for house hunting and viewings

Knowing what you need to look out for is one thing, but ensuring you remember them when you have five viewings packed into a week is another. You should define your criteria and keep a diary on each property you view. You should assess each property against your criteria by writing things down, so you remember the pros and cons of each.

Here are five tips to help you stay objective about the decisions you make.

Tip 1. Bring someone with you

It’s always better to have two sets of eyes looking around, this way it’s less likely you will miss something. People tend to have different perspectives so you can bounce ideas off each other. It’s also useful to have someone to keep your feet on the ground. Discussing the possibilities is excellent, but this needs to be objective.

Tip 2. Take Photographs

With the permission of the vendor, tenant or agent, you should take some photographs so you can adequately assess the house. Photos will also help to jog your memory when comparing the properties you have viewed.

Photos published online are usually misleading in terms of the size of rooms and space and can make things look a lot bigger than they are. Taking your own will ensure you get a realistic view.

Tip 3. Turn up early

When being shown the property by an agent or the person who lives there, there is a tendency to rush, because you feel you are putting them out.

Try to get there before the agent or before you have agreed to meet the vendor. This way, you will have a chance to look around the local area to get a feel for the neighbourhood; it will also allow you to get a good look at the property from outside.

Tip 4. Check for anything untoward

Although the surveyor will check for structural issues, you should also look for things of concern and raise with the surveyor when you get around to instructing them. For example, if you see large cracks or damp patches, or there is a smell of damp in the property. Things like this might put you off entirely, but you should note them down, so you have all the information available to you to make your decision.

Surveyors will usually comment on specific issues if requested, as long as they are within the scope of their services

Tip 5. Make a shortlist and view again.

Once you have narrowed your choices, you should ask for a second viewing. You might see things from a different perspective the second time around which could help you to make your final decision.

 

Disclaimer

The material contained in this article is intended for information purposes only and not as advice. We take no responsibility for the result of any actions you take as a result of reading this information.

You should always obtain professional legal or other advice if you are unsure about the effect on you of any matter in this article.

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