Finding a Property – Where to Start?

Finding a Property – Where to Start?

August 25, 2016

Finding a Property – Where to Start?

So it’s time to get your own place, or to upgrade from your current one; how do you go about finding the house that’s right for you? It used to be a simple case of cruising around the area’s estate agents to see what was on offer, but nowadays there are many more options for buyers to pick from. From knowing where to look, to knowing what to look for, this guide to finding a property will put you on the track to finding the right home for you.

Know what you’re looking for

First things first, you need to know what your ideal property will be. Do you need a small two-bed flat close to transport, or a three-bed house within catchment of a good school? When deciding on the attributes that your house needs, it’s best to draw up a list of “needs”, and a list of “wants” – for example, you might not be able to compromise on being close to a train station, but proximity to a park may be negotiable. Similarly, you should write a list of negative aspects which you could and couldn’t live with, such as living in a certain neighbourhood or a particular type of décor. Having an idea of where you can and can’t compromise lets you make decisions about which properties to view – a property which lacks an essential or contains a deal-breaker is immediately off the table, saving you time and energy viewing inappropriate properties.

Know what you can spend

Secondly, you need to know what your ideal budget is, and what you could stretch to if you had to. Here, the idea is to give you an upper limit to your spending; if you’d like to spend £300,000 but could reasonably reach £315,000, you know that anything above that number is off-limits. This is especially useful when negotiating with sellers, as it gives you a definite limit to what you can spend, and avoids you making a purchase you can’t afford.

Good budgeting is the key to a successful house purchase, as a mortgage that’s too large will negatively impact your day-to-day life for years while you pay it off. To calculate a budget, you need to total your monthly income and expenditures and then subtract one from the other; this is your current monthly budget. However, once you’re actually in the new property and paying off your mortgage, your situation will be different, so you must adjust the budget to reflect the changes in income and expense that you anticipate once you’re in your new home.

Knowing where to look, and who to look with

There are two main avenues to finding real estate properties; you can either approach a real estate agent to help you look for a home, or you can search online using sites like Zoopla and Rightmove. Each approach has its own benefits, and the two can be combined to give you the best chance of finding the right home for you.

Real estate agents have a wealth of local knowledge, and are able to direct you to properties in their portfolio that will suit your needs. They’re able to give you detailed information on the homes they’re selling, and advise you of useful local knowledge that might be difficult to come across otherwise. It’s also not unknown for estate agents to drop hints about sellers who are keen to make a deal, which can give you an edge when making an offer. However, the local nature of real estate agents does limit their scope, and their access to different properties is restricted – this doesn’t mean that they won’t have the right house for you, though, and since it’s very rare for agents to charge any fees to buyers there’s no harm in looking.

Online real estate sites have become big business in recent years, as they offer unparalleled access for both buyers and sellers. Being able to reach a multitude of properties allows you to compare prices across different areas, and decide where your budget will be best spent. However, online real estate listings are still relatively new, and have yet to gather full mainstream acceptance. As a result, there are still plenty of sellers who prefer to list their property with an estate agent instead, so even though there’s a lot to choose from online, the listings are by no means exhaustive.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or an upgrader, there are three key aspects to finding a great property; knowing what you want, knowing what you can spend, and knowing where to look. In each case, it’s best to take your time and be thorough – there’s no rush, and it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to a purchase as large as this.