I’m sure that all of you homeowners out there learned a lot when you bought your first homes. It’s a nerve-racking process, to say the least, but we always find having as much information and doing as much research as possible is a good way to feel prepared and be in control of a situation.
1. It really goes without saying that you first of all have to decide where you want to live. This is probably the toughest decision of them all, as it will not only dramatically influence the property prices, it’s also pretty much the only thing you can’t change afterwards.
2. Be prepared to invest time and effort. All in all, we looked at about 20 houses although it felt like at least a hundred! Choose a good estate agent (which is more difficult than you’d imagine) and try to build a good relationship with them. You want to be the first person they call when there is a new house on the market. It can also be really annoying when they send you emails with suggested houses that are fantastic, but way out of your budget!
3. Make a List – What are you looking for? What can’t you live without? Garden Size? Open Plan? Potential? Remember it’s a wish list, it’s not set in stone.
4. Make another List – This one is for your viewings. Take it, tick boxes, ask questions. Our list included stuff like: how old are the windows, how old is the boiler, are there any immediate repairs necessary? Check how many of your ideal home wish list boxes are being ticket, too.
6. Take loads of pictures (always ask if you are allowed to first). I can’t tell you how many times we discussed the pros and cons of a house and wondered about some of the detail. After a while they all sort of blur into each other.
7. Compare. Now you have your lists compare the pros and cons. Our top tip has to be – work out the price of the property by the square meter. It’s really easy to do (just divide the asking price per m²) and gives you a better way of comparing houses that are in the same area and are similar.
- House 1: Cost £275.000, Size 130m² – £2115 per m²
- House 2: Cost £195.000, Size 90m² – £2166 per m²
You can see, that although the price of house 1 is more significantly more than the price of house 2, it actually works out cheaper than house 2. Although this number is to a certain degree dependent on the state of the house it really helps to compare the prices of similar houses with each other. At the end of the day, you can compare numbers as much as you’d like, but if you find a house that you love and can afford, there’s no point waiting for something better to come along as it probably won’t.
8. When you’ve finally managed to work out which house is the one for you, it’s time for some serious negotiating. It’s not an easy thing to do, all of the research and box-ticking you’ve already done should really help you with this step. Work out what improvements need doing and how much they will cost, you know what the other houses in the street sold for – how does the one you want compare? These are all really strong arguments to put forward to the seller. Another good bargaining chip is to have all of you finances completely sorted and, if you can, try to be flexible. If more than one party is interested in the house, you’ll be a more preferable candidate.
9. If you have a survey done (a minimal one is usually required by the banks anyway) you can use this as an additional bargaining chip. Unless something is majorly wrong, it’s not too easy to negotiate a price after you’ve already agreed on one, but it will help you to get things repaired, replaced or removed before you move in. Again, negotiate with the seller. They know that even if they don’t want to proceed with you, any other potential buyer will see the same defects on a survey and probably try to do the same negotiating as you.
10. This has got to be the hardest step of all – don’t be afraid to walk away! Believe me, we know that this step is a really difficult one and sometimes it can be really upsetting. But ultimately you know it’s the right thing to do. It’s hard not to get emotionally attached to what you’re already thinking off as your future home, but until you’ve actually signed on the dotted line, nothing is secure. Statistically, around 1 in 3 of all sales fall though – in some cases even on the day of exchange!
You’ll find you end up jumping back and forth between these steps a lot. It’s not easy to find your dream home, but so worth the effort when you do!
Do you have any tips on finding and buying a home? If you already own a home, is there anything you learned in the process or is there anything that you’d do differently?