Buying your first home is an exciting but daunting prospect. There’s so much to think about, and mistakes can’t be undone quickly. However, there’s plenty that you can do to make the process go smoothly, and avoid some of the common pitfalls. Here are some property search tips to help you land your dream home.
Make use of the search site features
Naturally, most homebuyers will turn to property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla. These not only list the vast majority of homes on the market, but they have plenty of other useful tools as well. Rightmove is integrated with Google Maps, so that you can check out the exact location of the property.
Make sure you click on the street view function, because photographs can be deceptive. You might discover that your dream home is directly opposite a busy school, or a major road junction. If this is a deal-breaker for you, it will save wasted time and effort going for an in-person viewing.
These sites also allow you to compare the asking price with previously sold properties in the near vicinity, so you can check out how fair and reasonable the pricing is. Remember that a house or flat is only worth what buyers are prepared to pay, and asking prices are widely predicted to fall in the near future.
Get to know the neighbourhood
No matter how ideal the property is, if it’s in a poor location then you shouldn’t buy it. Visit at different times of day to see if the traffic is worse during certain times—is the street used as a rat run by locals during rush hour or school pick up times? Is there a popular pub with a rowdy evening clientele around the corner that you didn’t notice?
Check out the local crime rates, and take a note of the general tone of the neighbourhood. Is there a conspicuous amount of litter, graffiti, or vandalism? Do the local shops and services meet your needs, and are they near enough if you don’t drive?
Check out planning applications
If your heart is set on an open view of rolling green fields from your kitchen window, make sure you check that the farmer hasn’t just sold them to a developer. This can be done through searching for planning applications using the postcode on the Gov.uk website.
Your legal advisor should run these checks as a matter of course, but it can save a lot of hassle and wasted fees to check yourself before you make the offer. Also make sure that you check for the flood risk, which again should be done in more detail by a solicitor, but it’s quick and free to do an initial check on the Gov.uk website.
Check out the neighbours
Ask if there have been any neighbour disputes at the address, which the vendors are legally required to disclose. Try and chat to the neighbours before you put in an offer, and check out how well they maintain the exterior of the house.
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