As we get further into spring, more and more properties are making their way onto the market.
Whilst wider choice is undoubtedly a good thing for prospective buyers, having thousands of properties right at your fingertips can sometimes seem overwhelming, especially if you’re not sure what you’re looking for in a new home.
Online hunting can eat up entire evenings and viewings are often scheduled at inconvenient times, but with the right approach you can avoid wasting time on futile searches and unsuitable properties.
Here are our top tips for streamlining your property search:
1. Before you begin looking at any properties, sit down and make a list of everything you are looking for in a home. Identify your top priorities and clearly outline any requirements which you will not be willing to compromise on.
2. Despite the many advantages of internet browsing, it can also be beneficial to take your search offline. Register with your local GSPC member firm and arrange a chat about your requirements; see if they know of anything currently on the market and ask them to keep you informed of suitable properties in future.
3. Consider whether or not you will have the time and resources to invest in a ‘fixer upper’, or if it would be better to stretch to the higher end of your budget for a house in walk-in condition. Don’t forget that renovation costs can sometimes snowball, so you shouldn’t attempt to do major work on a tight budget.
4. When shortlisting properties, it is also worth considering how your budget measures up to the “offers over” price. Sellers often set this at the lower end of their expectations and properties in popular areas frequently go for several thousand pounds more, so if your budget only just meets the “offers over” price, and if the property is in a popular hotspot, consider whether your budget can stretch if others are offering beyond that price.
5. Using the above search methods and your list of priorities, create a shortlist of suitable properties. Request a copy of the home report and peruse this before organising a viewing. If you still decide to visit the property, make a note of any key repairs flagged up in the report, and take these along with you on the day.
6. If you don’t know the area of some of the properties, find out as much as you can before your viewing. Use Google Maps to analyse local amenities and transport links, and ask around to see if any friends or family know the area. Location is one of the most important things to consider when buying a home, so ensure you are well-placed to weigh this up against the other features of the property once you have seen it.
7. At the viewing, walk around the house at your leisure to get a feel of the place. See if you can envision yourself living in this home, and consider how you might use the rooms for different purposes or change the layout.
8. Following your first impression, walk through the house again, this time scrutinising the property more closely. Note any potential issues such as structural problems, damp, lack of storage space and poor energy efficiency. Pay special attention to any problems highlighted in the home report, and be on the lookout for any additional issues. Don’t forget to focus on the positives too, and after each viewing write up some quick notes on how the home compares to your priorities list.
9. Ask the estate agent if you can take photos or short videos of the home – if you are viewing a high volume of properties in a short space of time, it can become difficult to differentiate between them in the aftermath.
10. While one or two properties will no doubt stick in your mind, use your notes on each home to rule out unsuitable properties and further whittle down your shortlist. You can then arrange second viewings if you would like to further examine any properties or take a second look before making an offer. Don’t be disheartened if you end up ruling out all of your properties. You will now have a better idea of what you are looking for and will be able to factor this into future searches.