Finding a place you want to buy is only the first step in moving house. In fact, spotting the ideal home is probably the easiest part of the whole shebang.
In truth, there's generally a lot more to finding a new home than simply sifting through online listings and going to view potential targets.
Once you've decided that you really do want to move house, there are 10 essential steps you should always follow when house-hunting.
Let us guide you through them.
List your priorities
List your priorities for a new home. Maybe it's all about more space or having your own parking space or a top-performing school for the kids. We all have our own red lines about what we're willing to accept in a new home. Yours might be an extra bathroom or a south-facing garden for those long, hot summers we always get in the UK… We digress. Pen and paper, make a list. Check it twice. You know the drill.
Get your financial ducks in a row before you click on a single online estate agent site. If you need a mortgage to buy, apply in advance so you know how much a lender is willing to give you. Any agreement in principle will be valid for three months, giving you some breathing space. If you're selling your own home, obviously aim for the highest sale price possible to give you a bigger deposit for the next.
Identify the key people
Make friends with the estate agents. Yes, they might rank along with politicians, journalists and, oddly, footballers as the professionals we're least likely to trust. But they hold the key, often literally, to your new dream home. So, play nice with them and they could provide the necessary in to persuade a seller to accept your offer.
Ask right questions
Find out why the seller is moving. Sure, they might have the most innocent of reasons for packing up. But it's always good to know what their motivation is for putting their home on the market. You might discover an issue with a neighbour or an impending repair bill coming down the track. Ask the question of the owner directly if he or she is showing you round - it's harder to be evasive and easier to be honest when someone is staring right at you!
Check out the neighbourhood
Always check out the area at different times of the day and on different days of the week. The vibe of any street will be very different at 11am on a Wednesday compared to 8pm on a Friday or 2pm on a Sunday. Take the time to explore the immediate area, if you're unfamiliar with it, and scope out where the nearest shops, bars and restaurants, and parks, are. Remember, a property overlooking a park might be ideal if you've got kids or a dog to walk, but that's also where a lot of anti-social behaviour happens, too. A little preparation could save you in the long run.
View more than once
View the property you like more than once. In fact, if you're genuinely keen on buying a particular place, go and see it at least twice and preferably three times. The first viewing is where you get a general impression of the property. On a second visit, you can be more thorough in inspecting each room. Take your time. Look behind doors, open up cupboards, turn on taps and showers, flick on light switches. Ask about the broadband speed. Don't be inhibited by the presence of the seller or the estate agent. You're going to be spending a lot of money on this place. If you still want to buy, a third visit will usually confirm you're doing the right thing for you.
Get a survey done
Make sure this property is worth the investment. Commissioning a Building Survey or HomeBuyer Report will give you the peace of mind that there are no major issues with the property, no repairs that could cost a packet and that its valuation matches the price you're willing to pay. A survey carried out by a chartered surveyor who is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) will give you an in-depth report on the property's construction and identify any issues and defects. Where a problem is revealed, you have the information that can let you re-negotiate the price or insist that the seller carry out the repairs before the sale is complete. Talk to the experts at our sister site, Surveyor Local, where they work only with RICS chartered surveyors to provide affordable surveys to suit you.