One of the main reasons why people struggle to find a house is because they haven’t worked out the difference between what they want and what they actually need.
Most people have a wish list, but it’s important to understand what you will and won’t be able to achieve.
To try and help, here’s our advice on defining your dream property.
Work out your budget
When preparing to buy a house, the first thing you need to agree on is your budget.
Speak to a mortgage broker or your existing lender and consider the borrowing options you have.
Be prepared to divulge your earnings and spending habits upfront.
While this may seem premature, it’s wise to have an accurate picture of what you can afford before you start looking at properties.
The property features
To work out what you want and need from your property, write a list of things that are important to you. This might include items such as:
- Features you like (e.g. light, space, a low-maintenance garden)
- Your preferred aesthetics (e.g. brick, period, modern, townhouse, farmhouse, cottage)
- Space you want (e.g. large kitchen, 3+ bedrooms, utility room, double garage)
Be honest with yourself about the space and features you want, versus what you would be able to live with (or, indeed, without).
Don’t search for your dream house if you’re aware that this immediate purchase may only be your home for a few years. Think long-term!
Try to look at what else this purchase can give you, such as the lifestyle it can offer you, or the potential it has to make you money whilst you live there.
Location, location, location
It’s all about location!
Many people believe that it’s better to have the worst house on the best street, than the best house on the worst street. At least with the former you have potential to add value and make money on it. With the latter, you have at best plateaued- at worst lost money.
If you can, always prioritise where you live over what you live in. You can update, extend or rebuild a house, but you can’t move it somewhere else.
Choosing the right house in the wrong location could cause problems further down the line, especially if you need to sell the property swiftly.
Two things to consider include:
- Distance from specific locations (e.g. school, shop, station, specific catchment area)
- Position (e.g. edge of village, terraced street, rural, urban, end-of-terrace, first floor apartment)
Aim to choose an area around your favoured commute station, or a preferred grid. Don’t be completely rigid about viewing things outside this area, but knowing your location helps focus your search.
Whilst being overly specific can limit your options, it allows you to be thorough in your research. Knowledge is power when you are hunting for a property.
Do your research
Do some extensive research into what is available in the area you have chosen. You need to be realistic about what you’ll be able to obtain for your budget.
It’s best to look at actual ‘sold’ prices to get a good feel for what you’ll get for your money.
Here’s how to thoroughly do your research:
- Scour the property portals, such as Rightmove
- Buy the local weekly newspaper
- Keep an eye out for ‘for sale’ signs
- Speak to friends that live in the area
- Keep an eye out for new developments nearing completion
Be prepared to compromise
It’s more than likely that the properties you really like are out of reach in terms of budget. Wish lists are usually more extensive than our wallets can afford, but that is why it’s called a ‘wish list’.
This is why you should prioritise what you want from a house.
If you want space, you may have to live somewhere that is less ‘convenient’. Likewise, if you want every possible facility on the doorstep, you may have to sacrifice some square footage.
Once you have an idea of what you want, a confirmed budget and an idea of the timeline of your move, you are ready to begin.
Start speaking to a few local selling agents about your requirements.
Try to give them the broad scope of the search in terms of the ‘must have’ priorities, but keep your complete wish list to yourself for now.
Giving a lengthy list of requirements will narrow the amount of properties an agent offers you, and may mark you as a ‘picky’ buyer from the start.
We’re all picky when it comes to choosing our next home, but you don’t necessarily want a reputation for it from the outset.
Using a buying agent can be helpful when it comes to narrowing down your list of needs and wants. They’ll also have local knowledge you can tap into, while helping you secure a fair price for the property. Keep in mind that the estate agent works for the seller – a buyer’s agent will fight your corner!
Know what you can afford
Buying a property is a big financial commitment so its important you understand the most appropriate mortgage products for your requirements and the impact of any related fees over the term of your mortgage.
Talking to a experienced adviser can save you time and money. We’re connected with a great panel of mortgage brokers, here to help you. Submit your requirements to us discuss what you can afford to buy your next home. Get a mortgage quote for free below.
Last Updated: July 16th, 2021