We all know that searching for a home can be quite a long process. Studies have shown that it can take up to 3-4 months, viewing a total of 8 houses on average before most buyers find the house that’s right for them. The only way to make it easier for yourself is by doing a little research and preparation before you dive in. We’ve put together 5 simple steps to make your hunt for a home that little bit easier.
1. Figure out your finances
Before the search begins you absolutely must figure out exactly how much money you have to play with, taking into consideration the full cost of buying a home. It’s not just the cost of the property, but also the cost of surveys, stamp duty and more.
There is no such thing as ‘too early’ when it comes to looking at mortgages and speaking with financial advisors. While setting up meetings and discussing your finances with a mortgage advisor can be time consuming in itself, once you’ve determined your maximum spend it allows you to greatly refine your search and also puts you in a stronger position further down the line when it comes to negotiating.
2. Separate your wants from your needs
You probably already have an idea in your head of what your dream home looks like, what features it has and the type of area its located in. Unfortunately, for most buyers finding your dream home takes a lot of luck or a lot of money so you need to decide early on which features are the ‘must haves’.
Every buyer’s criteria is different, whether it is the size of the kitchen, being close to a good school or the number of bedrooms. A successful home search does require a little bit of compromise so separating your wants from your needs allows you to begin your search with a lot more focus, saving you time in the long run as you won’t need to head out all the time for endless viewings.
3. Take advantage of all the information available to you
In the past a lot of property information such as how much it previously sold for, floor plans and general statistics for the area were not as easily accessible as they are today. There are plenty of websites that allow you to do that extra bit of research, allowing you to make more educated decisions throughout the process.
Find out what the average price is for homes in your favourite area, take a look if a home you have your eye on has a surprisingly high flood risk. With buying a home being the biggest purchase you’re ever going to make, the extra research you put in could not only protect you from hidden disasters in the long term, but also means you’re able to be a little more brutal with your shortlist as you take advantage of the wealth of information available online.
4. Get in touch with us!
While the internet does hold plenty of useful information on the property market, if you’re looking for in depth knowledge of the local area, then your local estate agent is always your best bet. By speaking to your estate agent you can get some more information on the current state of the local market, which is incredibly valuable information if you’re moving to a new area.
If your essential property criteria includes the commute to work or the good local schools, a good agent will be able to bring even more focus to your search and help you avoid any homes that are unsuitable to your needs.
5. Be thorough, be brutal
Once the viewings begin it’s important that gather as much information as possible during your time in the property. Take notes, take photos and ask plenty of questions. After a few viewings you may find that all the properties begin to blur together in your memory, so the more information you collect the first time round, the more time you save from not having to go back again and again to feel the place out.
At this point you’ve already made a list of the things you can’t live without, so to speed up the process, you should also create a list of things you can’t live with. If your shortlist only contains 3 or 4 properties, then it may be best to take a slightly more lenient approach when discovering a room will need completely redecorating. However, if your shortlist of homes is in the double digits, you’d be wise to be thorough and spot any deal breakers early as a long list of homes will require you to be brutal unless you want to spend months going from viewing to viewing.
Overall the key to a successful property search is to make sure you’ve done your homework and have as much information as possible to make an educated decision when you see ‘that’ property and your heart takes over. Being able to determine exactly what you want early can be a massive help and by combining the online information with the knowledge of your local expert, you can make finding a home a much smoother process.