With our top tips on house hunting, from making lists and calculating budgets to hiring an inspector and reading a contract’s fine print, the experience can become infinitely easier—and even enjoyable. Property & Home shares the major dos and don’ts for a smooth and easy house hunting experience.
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DON’T fall in love with the wrong house
While it’s true that each one of us has a clear idea of what their dream home should look like, it’s important to keep both feet firmly on the ground—and to have a specific budget to stick to. Obtain a mortgage preapproval before you begin the house hunting process, as this will make it much easier to decide which properties are realistic prospects. Factor in mortgage, council tax and insurance rates for the area you are interested in—these costs can all add up very quickly.
DO ask for help
Overlooking potential problems can easily burn a hole in your pocket. Hiring an expert, such as an agent or home inspector, will allow you to make an informed decision. Professionals in the field can best spot issues with plumbing, roofing and heating systems. Don’t be afraid to ask for repairs or a home warranty during the negotiation period. Similarly, hire a buyer’s agent to optimise the process—especially if you’ve got a limited amount of time available. They will be able to arrange viewings, search for homes that meet your specific criteria and even help you negotiate a fair price.
DON’T ignore what you need
There are many aspects that make a house a home. Things like location, neighbourhood, parking, facilities and public transport links should all be factors in the decision process. To ensure you’re getting all that you need—and want—one of our most valuable tips on house hunting is to compile a ‘must haves’ list to make this important step that little bit easier. While things like flooring, wall colours and cupboards can be altered, floor plans and lots cannot. In some situations, it will be necessary to consider what is essential rather than what is desirable.
DO use the internet
Doing your own research—and not just blindly trusting what you’re told or what you read on a real estate advertisement—will always work in your favour. There are now countless apps, like Zoopla, that allow provide invaluable tips on house hunting and give users to search recent sell data for specific postcodes and professional valuations for every home in the UK. Researching the neighbourhood, nearby schools, amenities, traffic and transport on the web will make sure there are no nasty surprises once the contract is signed and finalised. You’ll be glad you gathered this useful information if—and when—you decide to sell.
DO take notes and pictures
Chances are you’ll view more than a handful of potential houses. Always bring a notepad and take pictures and videos of what you see to make each property memorable. Remember: viewing a house more than once is wise and perfectly reasonable. Buying and renting are both very costly and important decisions; you’ll not want to leave anything to chance.
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DON’T be shy
Only by asking questions will you get all the facts you need to make an informed decision. Do not be embarrassed to check all the nooks and crevices—after all, this could be your home for the foreseeable future. Sellers should be prepared for potential buyers to explore the home in minute detail, from every kitchen cupboard to bathroom drawer.
DO allow enough time
Buying—or renting—a property is a huge long-term commitment; do view various houses before you decide to settle on one. When you do settle, giving yourself enough time to calmly mull over all the relevant information will limit the possibility of a rash decision with potentially negative consequences. One of our most important top tips on house hunting is to make sure you leave enough time to study contracts, as they can be very expensive to get out of. Read the fine print and, again, ask as many questions as you can.
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