Fortunately, it’s been a while since I had to endure the odious task of house hunting. It doesn’t seem to matter if you’re looking for a rental property, a buy-to-let or a home for yourself, the same obstacles always seem to crop up when you’re house hunting.
I’m talking about those problems that have plagued house hunters ever since Neanderthals started grunting about finding a new cave. It’s unlikely I can solve them all in a short blog post, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway by providing a few house hunting tips for first-time buyers (and repeat buyers, for that matter) to think about.
Don’t Overload Yourself
It’s WAY too easy to let house hunting take over your life. Every spare minute seems to be sent sifting through the new listings the day has brought, and you find yourself feeling guilty when doing anything else.
Difficult as it may be to accept, you can’t force things to happen. Set your criteria (# of rooms, location, price etc.), search through what’s there and give it a few days or so before you look again.
That’s easier said than done when you’re up against the clock but, if you spend too much time searching, you’ll only end up taking somewhere that’s not right for you because you’re desperate to get back to doing anything other than looking at houses and flats.
Line Up Multiple Viewings
This is particularly relevant if you’re moving to a different area. I once set up a single viewing 30+ miles away and arrived to find a rundown flat that could only be accessed by navigating your way through several bins belonging to a Chinese restaurant. Seriously.
As well as being more efficient, lining up several viewings one after another gives you something to compare each property to. That’s useful because it stops you making a rash decision just because you liked a certain element of one house. A chart/checklist for each place can help you keep them all straight in your head.
Don’t Get Desperate
Might sound more like dating advice than a house hunting tip, but it applies here too. If you ever find yourself using the phrase “this will do”, or words to that effect, when house hunting you need to get out of there pronto.
There’s nothing wrong with compromising on a few things, but buying/renting a place just because you’re tired of looking is always a recipe for disaster.
It also pays to avoid being too desperate when you find somewhere you really like. Put your offer in then wait a few days before following up. Calling every ten minutes to see if the owners have made a decision yet is not a good look; they’ll realise you want the place and probably try to get a higher offer out of you.
Stretch The Budget (Or Don’t)
Well, you’ve done it. You’ve found the dream house. Except it’s £15,000 more than your budget allows. I can’t tell you whether or not you should splash the cash, but I would tell you to think about how long you’ve been house hunting before you do.
If this is only the second or third place you’ve looked at, it may not be ‘the dream home’. It may just be a house you like. If I were in your shoes, I’d keep looking.
But if it’s taken you months and months to find a place, it probably makes sense to go for it if you can reasonably afford the extra outlay. Hopefully you can get away with a lower offer, or maybe meet them in the middle.