The decision as to whether your family needs to move to a new home can be a long one. Given that moving can be so complex, it tends to take a few months for most of us to be willing to acknowledge that it’s time to sell your existing property and move to pastures new.
Unfortunately, deciding to move is just the catalyst for even more decisions, all of which will have to be made before you can finally reach the end of the moving process and settle into your new home. Of all the decisions that moving requires, deciding what to look for in a new property is arguably the most important of all. In this piece, we’ve sought to simplify that decision somewhat and highlighted a number of considerations that can help you to narrow down the options and decide exactly what you need to look for…
Price is arguably the most significant contributing factor of all, so setting a price bracket for properties right at the start of your search is strongly advised. If you are not sure what your budget should be, then a mortgage advisor should be able to assist you further in this regard. You will also need to consider how stamp duty may affect your property budget; you can use a calculator to help work out how much you may need to pay depending on your eventual purchase price.
There are a few different types of properties that are available, with the most common being:
- Detached: the property is free-standing with no walls shared with neighbouring properties.
- Semi-detached: one side of the property is shared with neighbours.
- Terraced: both sides of the property are shared with others.
- Flats (or apartments): the number of walls (or ceilings and floors) that you will share with neighbours depends on each property. In some circumstances, you may share walls, a ceiling, and a floor with other flats in the same building.
- Bungalows: can be detached or semi-detached,
Each property type has its own pros and cons; if privacy is of utmost importance, then looking for a detached house for sale will be the preferable choice; terraced properties can sometimes be easier to keep warm due to the close proximity of other buildings; while flats and apartments can offer on-site facilities (such as a gym) that could be worth considering. It’s therefore helpful to think about your preferences in this regard, so that you can narrow down your searches only to the properties that are the most suitable for your family’s needs.
An often-overlooked consideration when buying a home, it’s worth devoting some thought to winter access (or lack thereof). Properties that are located in more rural or remote areas can pose significant challenges in the event of extreme weather; for example, heavy snowfall could mean that the property is more likely to be “snowed in”. There are ways and means around all of the above problems (keeping a store of food in case you are snowed in, for example), but it is important to make sure you are comfortable with the need for these workarounds if you wish to consider properties in more remote areas.
It may sound a little strange to think about the potential a property offers for further development before you even move in. However, doing so can be hugely beneficial to your family’s long-term plans for the future. There are three different ways a property can offer great potential:
- “Up” potential: properties with an attic space that may be suitable for a conversion in future.
- “Down” potential: properties with a basement or cellar space that may be suitable for a basement conversion.
- “Out” potential: properties with large garden or outdoor space that could be used to construct an extension on if required.
Not all properties offer any of the above types of potential for future development. As a result, if you believe that you may want to extend in future, then limiting your search only to properties that allow development opportunities could be the best choice.
When it comes to area, it is always preferable to keep your preferences in this regard fairly flexible. The more limited the area you are willing to buy in is, the longer it may take to actually find a property that suits. As a result, it can be helpful to layer your preferences.
- Layer one. Your main target area and where you really want to live.
- Layer two. Areas you would be happy to live in, but aren’t necessarily your first choice.
- Layer three. Areas you could find acceptable, but only if you found a property that was absolutely perfect or available at a particularly impressive price.
This layering helps to ensure you can spread your search wide enough to allow a high number of properties to be considered, but also allows you to target your viewings more effectively by prioritising properties in layers one and two, and only viewing properties in layer three if there is little else available.
Finally, deciding how much work you are willing to do to a property before you start searching can really simplify the process of searching. If you are looking for a property that is “live in” ready, then set this in stone as you begin to search, and subsequently avoid any listing that uses phrases like “needs a little TLC” or “great development potential”. If you are more willing to make changes to a property, then it’s useful to know just how much work you are willing to undertake. There is a big difference between a property that just needs to be modernised and one that essentially requires a complete refit of the entire interior. Set a limit, that includes financial calculations related to how much you will need to spend on the work, for how much work you are willing to do that you can use as a guideline as you begin to search.
Considering all of the above should help you to be selective as you embark on the property hunting phase of your house move. Good luck with your search!