Buying a property is a major decision with huge implications for your life and your finances. Try to approach it rationally rather than making it a decision based on what you aspire to. It needs to be right for you at this stage in your life.
Start first by assessing what you want by choosing the property type you prefer. When you are briefing an agent, it is all too easy to describe your dream home rather than what you really need and then it can be a big let-down when you find you are not going to be able to have this ideal property. Be as realistic as possible from the outset.
One in three offers falls through and the most common reason is that the buyer finds they can’t afford when buying a property that in an ideal world they’d really like. Around 25 percent of buyers change their mind about what they want once they start looking at properties.
That adds up to a lot of wasted time and effort all around. The key is to be realistic, to understand the implications of what you are asking for (every feature comes at a price) and to set an accurate brief that won’t lead to frustration and change.
When buying a property choose a Property type
Here are three steps to deciding what property type you need and how to achieve it.
Imagine that you are buying a property, and make a list of the features you would look for. For many people, the list may include features such as:
- A double garage.
- A spare room for guests
- A hot tub.
- An en suite with every bedroom.
- A playroom.
- A study.
This is your wants list
Now imagine that you are going to be renting somewhere for a while, and write down what you really need. This list might include the following:
- A bedroom for each child.
- A living area was big enough for your furniture.
- A garage or adequate private parking.
- A private, secure garden where your dog can exercise.
- A shared bathroom conveniently situated between two or three bedrooms.
- More storage space.
- Potential to extend.
This is your needs list.
Now, look at what properties in your price bracket have to offer, and how they could be adapted to meet your needs and maybe a few of your wants. For example, a wooden cabin in the garden could function as a study or playroom. You may be able to fit in a bedroom for each child if some of them are single rather than double rooms.
Also, consider the implications of the needs and wants list for the type of property you should look at.
- Basic type: house, bungalow, flat, mobile home.
- Kind of house: detached, semi-detached, and terraced.
- Kind of flat: ground floor, first or top floor, penthouse, converted or purpose-built.
- Bedrooms: how many you need, and how many must be double.
- Bathrooms/toilets: how many you need.
- What other rooms you need: study, lounge, kitchen/diner, separate dining room.
- Garden: small, medium, large, with lawn, general condition.
- Parking requirements: off-street, in a garage or carport, for how many cars.
Consider different types of property
With your list of needs and wants as a brief, you can now consider which type or types of property are best suited to meet your requirements. Keep your mind open to all possibilities at this stage: you may have pictured yourself living in a Victorian cottage when, in fact, a new-build modern home ticks more of the boxes on your list.
Private builders are often obliged to include a wider range of properties, including starter homes in ‘mixed developments,’ in return for receiving planning permission.
Since 2005 the Government has announced several initiatives to increase the supply of affordable housing, including support for buying a property first-time and key workers such as nurses and teachers. Their view is based on: ‘A fundamental principle of sustainable communities is that everyone should have the opportunity of a decent home at a price they can afford, in a place in which they want to live and work
Buying a new property
Buying a new property could allow you to meet many of the requirements on your needs and wants lists. First, developers tend to gear their properties to what the market is demanding, and also, if you get involved early enough, you can influence the planning and layout of your new home. There are a number of benefits to buying a new property.
If you opt for a new-build property, do not use a legal firm provided by the developer as there could be conflict of interest. Get an independent specialist who is experienced in this area and familiar with issues such as, if the property is correctly built on its plot or not.
Since 2007, lenders have been nervous to lend on some new build properties. As a result, you may have to pay up to a 40 percent deposit on such property until lenders have more money for people to borrow and the property market has stabilized. On the other hand, new builds often charge up to 20 percent price premium over other secondhand homes, apart from character properties.
While the property market is in the doldrums, this level of premium isn’t always charged, so if you can afford the deposit, new builds can represent increasingly good value for money. Many new builds also have the advantage of offers when buying a property for the first time.