4 things you must do BEFORE you start house hunting
Buying a new home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, so it’s worth putting the work in before you start your search, to ensure you’re properly prepared. Our list of things to do before you start house hunting will help you get off on the right foot, avoid potential pitfalls and enjoy a stress-free move.
1. Get your finances in place
Before you even start thinking about viewing properties, you should get an agreement in principle from your mortgage lender. The last thing you want to do is find your dream property, only to have the move fall through due to a lack of finance. It’s a surprisingly common scenario and one that can be avoided with a bit of forward planning.
This exercise will also help you to set a realistic budget for your purchase. Your mortgage lender will work out the maximum amount they’d be prepared to lend you, based on your deposit amount, income and affordability.
Once you’ve got that figure, you’ll know exactly what price range you need to be looking at. Having a budget in mind may also help you to focus your search on certain areas or property types, or cross pricier property hotspots off your list. And with a mortgage agreement in place you’ll be one step ahead of the competition when it comes to making an offer on a property.
2. Make a list
Oh yes, we do love a good list! Once you’ve got a rough idea of the area, or areas you want to look at, start thinking about the property itself. Write down the essential features that your new home absolutely must have. Now make a second list of the desirable elements that you’d really like to see in a property, but ultimately, their absence wouldn’t be a dealbreaker.
For example, your essential list might include ‘detached, 3 bedrooms, driveway, back garden’. While your desirables list might feature ‘garage, option to add value/extend, within 20 minutes of the motorway.’
Now look at the kind of property you could get for your money in your chosen areas. Do they tick all your essential boxes? If you’ve got your heart set on a garden or you need a garage, do these areas offer what you’re looking for, within your price range?
3. Research, research, research
Once you’ve pinpointed an area, or a few possible locations for your search, its time to do a bit more homework. Deciding where to put down roots is not just a case of finding the right property. The location is equally, if not more important.
If you have children or you’re planning to start a family, research the local schools – and expect to pay a premium for properties in the catchment area of good schools.
Work out how long it would take you to commute to work from each area. What are the transport links like? What are the local amenities like? The more research you do into an area, the better.
4. Comb the market
Once you’ve set your budget, got an offer in principle, decided on an area and have your essentials and desirables list in place, it’s finally time to start looking at properties! Set up email alerts on the main property websites, sign up to local sites and social media groups, and don’t forget to register with the local estate agencies. These days, it can be tempting to do it all online, but a good, local estate agent can give you great insight into your chosen area, and may be privy to properties that haven’t yet come on to the market, meaning you may be the first to know about them.
And that’s it – you’re ready and prepared to begin your house hunt! Following these steps might seem like a lot of work, and we know it can be oh so tempting just to jump straight on to Rightmove and start booking viewings, but by putting in a bit of legwork and doing your research upfront, you could save yourself a lot of stress and heartache further down the line.
Found your dream home? Get an online conveyancing quote today.