Location, Location, Location – isn’t that the mantra?
Well it’s true – up to a point!
In reality, there are three fundamental things we look at when buying a house:
- Living Space
The Location Location, Location mantra is literally right because there are three aspects to choosing a location:
High level – Is the house within x minutes’ drive or train journey to work/ school or whatever’s important to you and your family? So, WHY do you want to live in this area and what matters to you about where in the area you live?
Mid-level – Is it in a nice town / village? Are the schools good? What catchment area is the property in? Do the neighbours appear OK? (No rusting cars, rotting windows, etc) Busy road noise? On Airport flight path? Is it on a flood-plain? Are there building plans nearby? Are you on mains water, sewerage? Gas or Oil? Broadband speed ok? Mobile phone signal (particularly inside)? Is there a drive / garage? Do you have scope for extension?
Detailed Level – Does it have some private (not overlooked) garden? Does the private garden face south or west for evening sun and relaxation? What’s the view like? Does it have enough shade or too much? Is there a shop/pub in walking distance? Is there a park/playground near for the kids?
Some of these may be of no importance to you BUT I am trying to show you that choosing a location can be a more in-depth challenge than it first seems.
Make sure that the floor-space, number, layout and size of the rooms is right for your circumstances. It is very easy to be ‘wowed’ by a well presented house but you have to stand back and be honest with yourself about whether it is right for you, and if you identify compromises, will everyone in the family be happy with them?
Don’t forget that there is usually scope for knocking through to make larger open plan spaces and/or to build an extension. If the location is right and the budget is available, this can add value to the property while making it more suitable for your needs at the same time.
This is always the tricky one and there are no right or wrong answers as to how much you should pay for a property. It will depend if you are in a steadily rising market or in a more subdued market where sellers should be prepared to accept reasonable offers. It also depends whether you intend to live there for a long time or expect to move on in a couple of years and of course, if you are buying to let, there are considerations around yield and long term capital growth potential.
However, you can help yourself by doing some homework in advance of visiting properties:
The easiest way is to look on the property portal websites, Rightmove and Zoopla. They hold the Land Registry information so you can see both what similar homes in your area are on the market for now and importantly, what similar homes have been fetching in the last year and more. For many of these sold properties, there is a wealth of information still available, so look at the details, photos, room sizes and location factors to see how the property you are going to view compares.