Buying a property involves making some of the most important (and difficult) decisions of your life. This is likely to be one of the most expensive things you will ever buy- the amount of time, effort and hard work that’s gone into saving for your deposit alone is enormous and so it’s something that needs to be right. There’s so much more that goes into your decision than just the house alone, here are just a few of the things you need to bear in mind when it comes to finding the perfect property.
How much can you afford?
The first thing you will need to do when it comes to buying a home is work out exactly how much you can afford. If you’re a cash buyer, perhaps due to having savings or inheritance money then you’ll need to decide your maximum price, or work out if you’re prepared to take out a mortgage on the remaining amount if the money doesn’t cover the full price. If you’re taking out a mortgage, you will generally be told how much you can borrow up to which is based on things like your age and how much you earn. Once you know how much you have to spend, you can then look at houses within this price bracket and exclude everything else. This is the first and most important step to narrowing down your choices.
What kind of property will you buy?
Do you want to move into a house or an apartment? Will you look into executive condo resale or would you prefer a bungalow? Even if you decide on a house, there are lots of options then within this to look into. Do you want a detached, or would you be happy with semi-detached or terraced? You have townhouses and split level houses. You have maisonettes, flats, cottages and so much more. Do your research, look into the different types and styles of homes available and work out what you do and don’t like. That way you can start to build your checklist and it makes it easier to narrow things down.
Are there any must- have features?
Lots of first-time buyers have a big list of ‘must haves’ which quickly starts to narrow down once they realise what they’re actually able to afford! However, it is useful to have a list of features you’d like the home to include, even if you do end up having to be flexible with them. This could include number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, sash windows, a garage, a loft conversion, off road parking and lots of other things. If there’s any that you’re absolutely set on, then you can exclude properties without that particular feature. But be aware, in some cases you might be able to adapt a property and create the feature yourself once you’ve moved in. For example, if there’s space at the side of the property you could have a garage built, or turn a front garden into a parking space. Just be aware of things like costs and work out if it would be worth doing this.
Is there enough outside space?
In many cases, you can make changes to the home itself- if you have a freehold then you can usually extend and make adjustments if you get planning permission first. This allows you to extend into the loft or down into the basement. It allows you to extend outwards with a single or double brick extension, or go with a conservatory or orangery. However, when it comes to the outside space you’re stuck with what’s there. In almost all cases you won’t be able to extend your garden so you need to be sure that you have enough outside space. If you do want to extend, again bear in mind how much space this will take from the current garden and if you’ll be happy with what’s left. Maybe you’re a keen gardener or have kids and pets that like to run around. Perhaps you like to entertain and enjoy having friends and family over for barbeques and alfresco dinners in the summer. If so, a decent sized garden is likely to be an essential. Don’t be tempted to purchase a property because you love the house even though the outside space is lacking. You will only regret it later down the line.
What are the area and amenities like?
Another thing to bear in mind when you buy a property is the area that it’s situated in. It might be a beautiful house, but is it by a busy road that would be dangerous with a family and pets? Is there a lot of crime in the area? Are there good local schools, shops and parks? You really need to do your research of an area before you move in, make sure they have everything you need and that you’re happy with things like the crime rates and amenities. In most cases, it’s best to buy the worst house in a good street than the best house in the worst street. You can change your property, you can’t change the area. Don’t let a nice home sway you, you’re taking on the area as well as the building itself. Get this wrong and again it’s something you might regret when you have to live with your decision.
Are you able to get to and from work easily?
Finally, home might be where the heart is but in order to pay for it and be able to afford to live- you need to be able to get to work. How commutable is your workplace from the properties you’re looking at? If it’s further than you’re used to, is this going to be something you can get used to or is it going to make you miserable? This is something to bear in mind, since you’ll be driving to and from work every day for most of the week.
A blog about my life in The Old House, a mum to teenagers, a primary school teacher and my passion for gardening.