House hunting can be a very exciting time; who wouldn’t be excited at the prospect of finding a new home? However, it is easy to get carried away when house hunting, and you don’t want to rush into what can potentially be a lifetime investment.
Choosing a house is a big decision and certain stages in the process can be hectic – particularly amidst normal day-to-day life! Therefore, it is important to remain as organised as possible. To help avoid potential stress and maintain excitement within the process, we have a compiled a list of our five house hunting tips to help you staying organised during the search for your next home.
Before you even begin looking at properties, make sure you know what you can buy. First-time buyers in particular, will need to allow time to save money before starting to look for a house. It is not uncommon for buyers to find their ideal home before their mortgage but this is not the best way round to do things!
It is a good idea to set yourself a rough budget. Not only will this keep you from spending the entirety of your savings on a house, but it will also narrow down your search and will help to avoid disappointment further down the line. First-time buyers should also check their credit score far in advance. Having a poor credit score can make it difficult to get a loan for a mortgage, so – again to avoid disappointment – improving your credit score before embarking on your house hunt is a good idea.
Lastly, set yourself a rough time frame as to when you would like to buy your house. However, try to be realistic. Of course, setting yourself a time frame of two weeks is overly optimistic, may leave you stressed, and could lead to a rushed and hasty decision. What is more, delays can occur and so dates may change. It is important to leave an appropriate amount of time to look at a wide array of houses, assess your options, make the correct decision and eventually facilitate the physical move itself.
Do your research
Okay, so you have prepared yourself for your house hunt. Now it is time to research. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, the first stages of your house hunt can be conducted simply by sitting at a desk with your computer and a notepad. Once you have outlined the type of house you are looking for (considering factors such as location, size, number of bedrooms), you can take these criteria to the web, or a local estate agent in person and begin browsing potential houses.
It is a good idea to compile a list of houses that fit your criteria and make a note of them; whether this be on a word document or a piece of paper. However, you may find that you suddenly have an endless list of houses that you like the look of. Therefore, it might even be worth giving each property an initial ranking out of ten, as this it will make it easier to decide which houses you will decide to book a viewing for first and foremost.
Don’t settle on the first house you see
Many first-time buyers can fall into the trap of falling in love with the very first house they view. While it is possible that the first house you view may be the one you eventually move into, it is recommended to consider the other options. For all you know, the next house you see (or even the house after that) may be even better suited to your needs.
If you view a number of houses and still find that the house you viewed first was the best of the options, then great! However, initially, it is wise to take some time to assess the various houses you have selected and make sure to not rush into a decision. No house will be absolutely perfect so it is important to evaluate the pros and cons of each and decide which are most relevant to your situation – current and future.
Take pictures or videos of each property
After viewing a tenth house, they can start to blur into one. For example, you can be forgiven if you struggle to remember what the first house you viewed looked like from the outside or if you get the rooms between houses muddled up. This is why we recommend that you take lots of pictures. It might seem excessive, but try to take multiple pictures of every room in the house. After all, it is better to have too many photos than too few. If you want to go the extra mile, you could even video yourself walking around the house to provide you with a more full and accurate perspective of the property.
If you do, store the photos into separate files labelled with the correct property address. By making sure to take pictures and/or videos, you build a visual record of each property that is easy to continually refer back to throughout the house hunting process.
Find out as much as possible about each property
As you view each house, make sure to ask as many questions as you feel is necessary. After all houses are a huge investment, particularly in London. You have the right to know everything there is to know about each property. For example, you may want to know:
- How long has the property been on the market?
- How long have the owners of the property lived there?
- Have any offers been made?
- Have any offers been declined?
- Has planning permission been granted for any work such as extensions?
- Has a survey been carried out and did it reveal any need for works?
These type of questions can help to uncover pieces of information and help you to gauge more about the property in question. For example, if you are told that the property has been on the market for over two years, this may indicate that there is something undesirable about the house that you have not been told about. Perhaps it is in a location that gets notoriously loud at the weekends? It is equally possible that other factors such as market conditions or personal situations have changed and have prevented a quick sale, therefore it is certainly worth asking the question.
The more you know about a property the better. This added information will come in handy if you are left with a difficult decision as to which house to choose at the end of your hunt. If you find yourself in such a position, making a pros and cons list of each house can be very helpful. By weighing up your options and making a side by side comparison between houses, you will find it much easier to eventually make that all-important decision.
Hopefully, these five house hunting tips help to keep your property search as organised and successful as possible. Recently awarded Best Small Estate Agent for their region, James Anderson have helped thousands of Londoners buy and rent homes in South West London. If you are about to start house hunting but still have some questions, get in touch with us today.