When starting your property search everyone has a dream house in mind - perhaps a detached house on a tree-lined street, a farmhouse set on its own land or a penthouse in the city. Chances are, unless you win the lottery your dream property is not the property that you will actually buy.
Location, Location, Location
There is no more important factor when it comes to buying a home than Location. There are many things you can change when it comes to your home's appearance, however the one thing that you can not change is the location. When considering resale in particular, location is critical. Always keep this in mind as you search for a property.
Consider everything regarding the location of the property - neighbourhood, schools, shops, access to public transport, etc. While some of these elements may not be important to you now, they may become important in the future (schools!) or they may be important to future buyers of your property. It is also essential to research any future developments for the area, in terms of infrastructural developments, housing developments and retail developments. Future developments could have a positive as well as a negative impact on your property.
Determine your "must have" features
Determine what features you "must have" in your new home (location, price, size, bedrooms, garden etc.) and then be realistic about those requirements and ask yourself what features you can be flexible about. This will narrow your search help you to decide what kind of property you are looking for. Create a list of 'must have' features and do not comprise on these. Create a second list of 'Wish List' features which you could, in theory, do without.
Compare, Compare, Compare
Using your two lists, write out a comparative table and slot each property you view into the table. Tick off each feature on the list according to what each property offers. This comparison sheet will allow you to see at a glance which property most matches your requirements.
Researching current market information is Key
Make sure you inform yourself about the buying process. It is very important it is to research the market and to find out current prices of properties in the location you are looking at.
Figure out your finances
Before you even begin the house hunting process, you must talk to your bank or builiding society to see how much you qualify for. You can then receive Mortgage Approval in advance - this will speed up the property purchasing process and will also give you an advantage when placing an offer on a property. Property sellers are likely to accept the bid of a buyer who has mortgage approval, over a buyer who has not yet arranged approval.
Receiving mortgage approval in advance also allows you to focus specifically on the properties within your price range.
Once you have found your home (and hopefully your dream home) you should arrange for a valuation of the property by a qualified surveyor. When you are satisfied with the terms and conditions of your offer you are ready to instruct your solicitor. (See Closing the Deal)
For more information on buying a property on your own download our property guide
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