This is crucial. Location has a huge impact on the price of the property. For example, if you were to buy a 2 bedroom apartment in Bristol BS1 you could spend around £800,000. Yet the same sort of property just over the bridge in Chepstow NP16, South Wales is only £330,000. (Prices from Rightmove) This is a huge drop in price of £470,000. But there is a catch… the Severn bridge toll. The cost for a car is currently £6.60 a day – which would put off a lot of people needing to commute to Bristol to work. However, this is likely to change in the near future as the bridge toll is dropping in 2018 to £3. There is speculation about whether it will be scrapped in total eventually.
A lot of people now have some form of commute on a daily basis. This could be via public transport, car or bike etc. If you are likely to change your job one day, you may want to consider living somewhere with easy access to motorways to give you more job opportunities if you drive. Living in a rural location may mean driving times to towns and cities could be much longer and therefore make finding jobs harder.
If you have children or would like to one day, check out the local schools. Rightmove offers a school checker service that allows you to see how far local schools are and how well they compare to others. You can find out if the schools were over or under subscribed and the OFSTED (England) or Estyn (Welsh) report. By clicking on the school, Rightmove also displays a map and shows you were the property is in relation to the school.
What property price can you afford to pay? Most people will require a mortgage to complete a house purchase and need to have an idea of how much deposit they can afford to pay and how much they can afford to pay each month towards their mortgage. If you are unsure, seek mortgage advice before beginning your search. This will give you a much better idea of what sort of price range you can be looking at for a potential property.
When you have chosen a potential property it is always wise to see what crime rates are like in the area. You might find a wonderful property but if crime rates are high this could impact things such as house insurance, car insurance and so on. By simply typing into Google ‘crime rates’ and the postcode it will bring up www.crime-statistics.co.uk. This website is fantastic for looking at up-to- date figures on anti-social behaviour, burglary, public order, shoplifting, vehicle crime etc. It also lists the top 5 streets in that area of most crimes occurred. This is a totally free service.
The property itself
Most estate agents now are more than happy for you to come a view a potential property shortly after enquiring about it. You should be given a paper copy of the property for you to look at. It is never a bad idea to think about some questions you might want to ask the estate agent and if you don’t think of them at the time they are more than happy for you to call them back with any unanswered questions.
When you first arrive look at the outside of the property. Does it look like it might need work doing to it? Check to see if the road and surrounding areas are clean – this will give you an idea of what the neighbours are like. Ask about any nearby land that is of substantial size. If you were to proceed with a purchase, your solicitor should check the status of any surrounding empty land to find out if there is any likelihood of future development. If there is a possibly, this could affect house prices in the near future.
If you decide to book a viewing, go inside with an open mind. Look for the potential and how you can put your stamp on the place. A lick of paint can make the world of difference. When walking into each room look to see if you can see stains on the ceiling this is a possible sign of water damage and where there is water damage this could lead to mould and other unwanted problems. If the property is not new, check it has double glazing and central heating. These things make a big difference to comfort, energy bills and cost quite a bit to put in if it hasn’t been done already.
Think about if you would want to make any home improvements. This might be an extension to create a new kitchen or even a conservatory. You will need planning permission from the local council before you can start the work. Will the work that you plan to do help increase the property value?
If you are specially looking to purchase a property to renovate yourself, consider how much value you can realistically add to it before spending any money. Most houses on estates will have an upper limit to its value – for example, if all the neighbours properties are worth an amount, it is unlikely someone looking to buy a property for considerably more will be interested in your house even if it has had a lot of work done, simply because of where it is.
Can you financially afford all the bills for the property? The estate agent should be able to tell you what the Council tax is on the property. Shop around for your gas and electric. You may have had mortgage advice but check to make sure you can cover the costs of anything that would need doing within a short time of moving in. Have you got money to pay mortgage fees and moving costs? Can you afford to live there comfortably?