Buying a new home is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make, so you need to be sure that it is right.
While you may have your heart set on a particular property, you need to take a range of factors into consideration before parting with any cash.
Having a list of criteria will help speed up your search. But you also need to be prepared to trade off one element for another.
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Location, location, location
The location of your potential new home is extremely important, and you need to give this some careful thought. Ask yourself if the location is desirable; if it is close enough to work, and also to friends and family, or whether you will end up spending a lot of time and money commuting.
Walk around areas you are interested in living, so you get a feel for the neighbourhood, and try and do this both during the day and at night.
Also talk to local residents in to find out about the history of the area, levels of crime, and the reputation of community facilities.
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Local facilities and transport
Conduct thorough research into the local amenities, such as shops, schools, parks, pubs, restaurants and cafes.
Also look into the transport links, especially if you need to be near to a train station if you commute to work – and don’t forget to check out the road links too.
Planned development in the area
It is your solicitor’s job to help you find out about potential developments in the area, but you should also do a little digging around yourself.
Once again, local residents may have the low-down about potential plans in the pipeline.
While improved transport links or a shiny new shopping centre could see your new home go up in value, if you buy in the wrong place, this could cause problems when you come to sell.
If a place looks a bit shabby, you need to think carefully about whether you could improve it for the better.
Equally, if a property needs major works, you need to ask yourself whether you’re happy to take on a project. Renovating can add value, but this can be a huge commitment which demands a lot of time, money and energy.
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When buying a new property, it’s easy to make the mistake of focusing only on whether the place suits your needs. But it’s also important to think carefully about how easy it will be for you to shift that property when the time comes.
A well-kept home in a desirable area will always have a ready-made pool of buyers.
However, if a controversial new development is planned, or if the neighbourhood is changing for the worst, you could find yourself struggling to sell a few years down the line.
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Can you afford it?
One of the key things to think about when purchasing a new home is how much you can realistically afford.
You need to have a clear idea of your budget before you start your property search.
The bigger the deposit you can put down upfront, the more choice this will give you in terms of mortgage deals. Ensuring you have a good credit rating could also help you access better interest rates. Credit reference agencies, like Experian, can give you access to your credit report and provide practical advice on how to improve it.
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You also need to factor in additional costs, such as stamp duty, legal fees, estate agent charges, along with the cost of a survey, and removal costs.
You must also be sure that you can afford to run your home once you’ve bought it, and that means allowing for council tax, utility bills and home insurance – as well as the monthly mortgage payments.
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You may not have exact figures, but with a bit of research, you can get a good idea of how much you will need.