When looking to buy a home, the best advice is to be prepared. Before you look to buy, research the area and any particular streets you’d be interested in living in, so you don’t need to spend time doing this later. I’d also recommend visiting the streets before looking to buy there, so you can get a real feel for the area and remember to visit at different times in the day too. Look at new listings every day and know exactly what it is you’re looking for in a property so when you see one that fits, you can jump on it straight away.
It’s also wise to be prepared about the true cost of buying a home. You won’t simply need a deposit, but you also need to consider the costs of stamp duty, a house survey, solicitors, and even your furniture, so keep this in mind when searching for a property.
2. Look for a home at the best time of year
The housing market fluctuates throughout the year, with fewer people looking to sell their home in the run-up to Christmas, and a New Year rush traditionally occurring in January. Historically, spring is a good time to look for a home as more people are putting their properties on the market, so demand won’t be as high, and we also expect less urgency in the market in the springtime too. Less demand and urgency will ultimately result in lower house prices, so for anyone looking for a home, March may be a good time to start searching.
3. Have mortgages in mind
Before putting an offer on a home, you like, it’s a good idea to get a mortgage-in-principle. This is a confirmation stating how much your lender is prepared to lend you to buy a property and shows sellers that you are a serious buyer with the necessary finances to buy their property and helps speed up the buying process. What’s more, a mortgage-in-principle also means you know exactly what you can, and cannot, afford when searching for a suitable property. I’d also advise working with a mortgage broker throughout the house buying process, to help you with this and understand which mortgages are best for you.
4. Look for properties under your budget
If we’ve learnt anything from the past couple of years, it’s that house prices are continually at an all-time high. Because of this, buyers are finding themselves paying way above the asking price for properties – so I’d recommend looking for properties under your budget.
If you like the property so much as to put an offer in, then you can go in with a higher offer that will stand you in good stead over other people looking to buy. You’ll likely save yourself a lot of money in the process and be a frontrunner for the sale. With any remaining cash, you can use this for furniture or renovations on the property.
5. Get the most out of your viewings
Your first house viewing can be exciting and more than likely, you’ve already been won over by pictures of the property you’ve seen online. But it’s important to never take a home you’re interested in buying at face value and try not to get carried away by excitement – you should be thorough with your house viewings to make sure this is the right home for you.
Check for factors including if the doors and windows are secure and efficient, if the current owners have experienced disputes with neighbours if there is any damp or holes in/on the walls, are the electrics/plumbing up to standard, and if there any structural issues. Having a checklist before your viewing will ensure you cover all the important factors.
6. Be flexible, stay positive, and have patience
Buying a home amidst the competitiveness of the property market can be disheartening for buyers, but it’s important to stay positive. Many things can go wrong during the home buying process, and if something does for you then try not to let it get you down. If for any reason your home falls through, there will be others that you’re sure to love just as much. Be patient and understand that the home buying process does take time. If you’re renting make sure your tenancy agreement is on a month-by-month rolling contract if possible, so it doesn’t come to an end before you can move into a property, and if you’re selling a home yourself, pick a date for completion that is realistic.
Being flexible and an easy person to work with is paramount in buying a home. It’s important to make a seller’s life easier for them, so consider doing things like letting them pick the closing date if you can afford to do so. If you are in a property chain this will be harder to do but is a great piece of advice for first-time buyers.
All in all, the property market has surged beyond expectation during the past couple of years, but as we approach 2022 it looks more promising for buyers. For anyone looking to buy a home, I would suggest buyers avoid making any hasty decisions.
Property purchase is a massive deal, especially in today’s economic climate so buyers must manage to tick off all their requirements for their dream property. Wrong decisions only cause expensive mistakes down the line, and nobody wants the stress of another house purchase in such a short period. We hope these tips help anyone looking to buy a home in the new year.
*Ross Counsell is a Chartered Surveyor and Director at regulated property buyers GoodMove.