All the essentials for a successful property hunt
Now the sun is shining and the cold days are (mainly) behind us, it’s high season for house sellers and buyers. In fact, according to many industry luminaries, the months between February and June are the prime to time to sell a house. This is due to a few different factors, the main ones being more sunshine, longer days and a boost in financial confidence brought on by the end of winter hibernation.
Whatever the reasoning behind it, it all means there’ll be more choice on the market right now. Which is great news for buyers.
So what should the serious home hunter arm themselves with to bag the best bounty when it’s open season on property? Knowledge, that’s what.
And to help you go forth and fix your ideal new home firmly in your sights when you’re out on the hunt, here’s the essential Smoove Move checklist. Take aim…
It makes a lot of sense to only delve deeper into your property search after you’ve found your ideal neighbourhood. It’s one of the most important things to keep you happy in your new home and you need to make sure you choose the right one. Our moving guide to finding the ideal property will help you get it right.
This one’s all about ensuring you plan for the long term. We can’t all see into the future, but most of us roughly know what our plans are in terms of starting a family and work. So make sure you take tomorrow’s plans as well as today’s into account when weighing up those properties.
Obviously, you need to be certain your can afford your new home before you put an offer in. What we mean here is maximum affordability. Generally speaking, the cost of owning a property should decrease over the years as you clear more of your mortgage and your payments gradually decrease. So many people will stretch their budget at the outset and spend the most they can afford to pay, knowing this should gradually decrease. Find out more about this in our guide to working out how much mortgage you can afford.
Make sure you get a feel of how busy the road outside is. Not just with through traffic at peak times like rush hour, but also at weekends as it may be on a busy rat run for a sports ground or shopping centre.
Parking can be a problem in many urban areas, so it’s worth checking out just how easy it will be to park, particularly if you’re looking at city centre apartments. Many suburban neighbourhoods have permit schemes for on-road parking so this is also worth asking about if you see signs displayed in the neighbourhood.
If you have a family or are thinking of starting one, you’ll want to see how local schools perform. The government’s school comparison website will help you learn more about this.
If you want to develop the property or add extra space such as an office or loft conversion, make sure there’s enough space either outside or up above.
If you’re into jogging, have a dog or just love the great outdoors, a nearby park or green space is essential. A quick look on a satellite image from Google Maps will soon reveal how green the neighbourhood is.
Make sure there’s plenty of room to store all your bits and pieces. Be very suspicious if you can’t seen any cupboards or wardrobes when you are viewing a house, as removing these is a classic way to give the impression of more space.
Which way does your house or apartment face? A quick look on Google Maps or a visit with a compass will soon tell you this. You’ll then be able to work out which aspects will get the morning and evening sun, and what times of day your garden, yard or balcony will become suntrap and when the shadows are likely to fall. As a rule, gardens do better on the south-facing side as they benefit from most sunshine throughout the day.
Is the property adequately soundproofed? Check out the local area for industrial sites, busy locations or potential noise sources like motorways, train lines and airports. Visit at different times on weekdays and weekends to get a better idea of noise levels if you’re sensitive to sounds.
How do crime rates compare with those in other areas? Visit police.uk to search for crime maps by postcode and find data for your local police force.
It’s essential to check whether the properties you choose are at risk of flooding. Even if you are far from the coast, rivers can rise dramatically and affect homes miles way. Check the UK government’s flood maps here.
Often overlooked for apartment buyers, the maintenance charge can dramatically increase your monthly payments. Make sure you know just how much it is, if it’s fixed and what it covers.
Simply crossing the street in some cities can change your council tax bill by hundreds of pounds. Find out what band your property is, then check the council tax charge on your local authority website.
Another factor many eager home hunters overlook are the local facilities like shops, bars and eateries. Depending on your lifestyle, this can make a big difference to how much you enjoy living in your new abode, and is well worth considering before you start to narrow down your list of possible purchases.
Finally, planning. Try and find out if the local authority is planning any changes near your property such as new roads or railway lines. Check with your local planning department to see if any construction is in the pipeline that may affect your views, access or property price. A bit of detective work here could save you a fortune in the future.