What to consider when choosing a home

When purchasing a property, you will often hear the phrase 'location, location, location'. The area you decide to live in is all-important, but so is the type of property you choose to purchase.

Most of the time, the best locations will have more expensive properties, so it can often be a balancing act of finding a good area to live in with properties that fit your budget and requirements.

As a buyer, you will need to factor in a range of criteria to identify the best location for your needs.

With this in mind, we have put together some guidance on how to choose a home that works for you.

Work out what you can afford

First things first, you'll need to work out your budget. There is no point searching for properties in areas that you just can't afford.

Working out your budget will give you an idea of the type of property you can afford in certain locations. Armed with this information, you can start a much more focused property search.

As well as the deposit and mortgage, you will need to think about additional costs such as stamp duty, the threshold for which has recently been increased to £500,000, while first-time buyers have been exempt from paying stamp duty on the first £300,000 of a property purchase since 2017.

You’ll also need to consider the cost of insurance, conveyancing and surveys. Considering the entire cost of the move is important so that you don't come unstuck by any surprises later down the line.

What type of property do you want?

Once you’ve worked out your budget, you'll need to think about the type of property you want. For example, do you have a preference for freehold over leasehold or do you want to live in a house or a flat?

You will also need to think about the number of bedrooms you want and whether outdoor space is important to you. When searching for a home, it may become apparent that you can afford a smaller flat in a better area, so you need to think agree on your non-negotiable features.

Having a list of what you do and don't want from a property can be useful, while the more searching you do on portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla, the better idea you’ll get of the types of property available on certain streets in particular locations.

What kind of area do you want to live in?

Alongside property type, you also need to consider the area that you're planning to buy in. For example, are you looking for somewhere with lots of green space or somewhere with good transport links?

It's a good idea to compile another list detailing what's important to you when it comes to location. This could include things like schools, shops, commute time, community, crime rates, council tax costs and so on.

It's likely that you'll have several areas that you'd be happy to buy in and it can help narrow down the search if you identify specific roads that tick all your boxes.

Is location or the property itself more important to you?

Once you have decided on the property type you are looking for as well as your ideal area, you can start searching to see what's available.

For some buyers, the location will be their key consideration, while for others the home itself will be their main priority.

When you start searching, if there is not much available, you may need to compromise either on location or the property type or features you are looking for.

It's unlikely (but not impossible!) that you'll find your home in your perfect area, so it's important to remain realistic and have a solid understanding of your long-term priorities.

Make sure you know the area well

You may already live in the area you are looking to buy in, which is all well and good. However, if you are moving somewhere new, you need to make sure you know the area before committing to buy there.

In some cases, this would require renting there before purchasing. However, for most buyers, spending time in the area, speaking to local estate agents, residents and businesses will give you all the information you need.

When you visit an area, you can get a feel for it - what are the people like, is there a strong sense of community and how good are the transport links?

An area might tick all your boxes on paper, but if it doesn't feel right when you actually get there, you may have made a mistake that it will be hard to rectify.

Think about the long-term

Purchasing a home is a big commitment and it's not something you should rush into. When choosing a property, it's important that you think about the long-term, even if you're only planning to stay in the property for a short period of time.

If you're planning to start a family, you'll need to think about the number of bedrooms and outdoor space, as well as the local schools. Alternatively, if you're thinking of living in the property for a couple of years before selling up, will the property have a good resale value?

Areas that are seen as 'up and coming' now, could be property selling hotspots in the future. As a rule of thumb, areas with good property stock, lots of schools and solid transport links are always likely to perform well over the medium and long-term.

Another thing to think about is future earnings - a mortgage you secure now could seem like a big commitment, but if you earn more in the future it could seem much more affordable in a few years. That said, you don't want to overstretch yourself financially.

Taking a long-term approach is crucial if you want to take advantage of the best opportunities and progress up/down the property ladder with minimum stress.

The above guidance is not exhaustive, so if you would like further advice on choosing a property, our team would be more than happy to assist. You can get in touch with us today on 01622 291 491 or maidstone@knightedmonds.co.uk.