Our 10 top tips to buying a house

uying-A-House-Sitting-Room

When you’re thinking of buying a property, it’s all about preparation. It is potentially the biggest financial commitment you will ever make, so taking the time to prep is a no-brainer.

We’ve made every effort to ensure this guide’s accuracy, yet it doesn’t constitute legal advice tailored to your circumstances. If you act on it, you do so at your own risk.

 

#1 House buying tip: Work out what you can borrow

Before you even start looking for your dream home, there are necessary things you need to do. Most importantly, you must calculate exactly how much you can borrow.

You want to get your mortgage ‘in principle’ so that you can start looking armed with a realistic budget.

 

It’s worth checking if you’re eligible for a government scheme such as Help to Buy, a scheme that helps increase the choice of mortgages for people with 5% to put down. But remember, borrowers pay a premium at this level.

 

Also if you’re a first-time buyer aged 18 to 39, you could get up to £32,000 from the government by opening a Lifetime ISA, an option that launched in April 2017. You can read more here on the Money Saving Expert website.

Buying-A-House-Hallway

#2 House buying tip: Don’t forget to add up the fees

Did you know there can be up to 12 fees to include in your budget? Conveyancing fees, land registry fees, stamp duty, a mortgage fee, a homebuyer survey, valuation fees, removal costs, indemnity insurance…. The list goes on!

 

 

Check out this really helpful article from the Times Money Mentor to read more about the individual costs and what you can expect to pay.

 

Once armed with how much you can borrow and how much it’s actually going to cost to buy, you can start the house hunt!

 

#3 House buying tip: Build relationships with your local estate agents

Buying-A-House-Estate-Agent

Start with meeting your local agent in person: It’ll give you a chance to swap contact details and ask for their advice. (They usually like sharing what they know, and you should tap into this!) It also means you’ll have a specific point of contact whom you can call for regular updates.

 

Remember to get a mortgage in principle beforehand – this shows them that you’re serious.

#4 House buying tip: Get obsessed with Rightmove and Zoopla

You can get pretty far with a good search on Rightmove. The site works with more agents than any other property website, so it’s the best place to start.

 

Make sure you also use their instant alert for favourite searches. This means you’ll get notified when a new property that meets your criteria is listed, saving you valuable legwork.

Also remember to tap into Zoopla and check their Sold House Prices section. It’s a great tool to learn how much properties on a particular street have sold for and to get a sense of what’s happening in an area.

 

Buying-A-House-Research

#5 House buying tip: Do some serious walking

You’ll want to discover the areas you like – but do this whilst channelling a bit of pioneer spirit! It doesn’t have to be a picture-perfect postcard, and it’s also worth exploring places outside your geographic comfort zone. It’s likely that if you lead, others will follow.

 

At the same time, be thinking about what amenities the local area can provide. As Lorna Reed from the Bonnington Square estate agency explains, “You could find the perfect house, but if it’s far away from a pub, a shop, a high street or transport links then you could find yourself feeling isolated despite being really happy with the home.”

 

So be sure to check out where you can run to buy milk or grab a coffee. These relatively small things will make a huge difference.

(And get walking armed with an app! Rightmove offers a free iPhone or Android app that uses GPS to pinpoint homes for sale near your current location.)

 

House-Extension-Cost-2020-Stairs

ARTICLE

How much will my extension cost in 2022

When it comes to home-renovating this is the most common question we get asked. So let’s get right to it, how do you work out the REAL cost? Read on to find out!

Once you’ve got a sense of the area you love, it’s time to get strategic!

#6 House buying tip: Be super chatty

Talking to people in the neighbourhood is a great way to understand the area and learn what’s what. Spring is a great time, as people tend to be out in their gardens so it’s a lot easier to strike up a conversation.

 

#7 House buying tip: Become a serious researcher

When you’ve zoned in on an area you like, you can start doing some in-depth desktop research. Check:

  • What’s being built in the area –  You can do this by visiting  your local authority website. You don’t want to buy a house because of a wonderful view of the river, only to later discover that a block of flats will be built right there!
  • Council tax band
  • Schools
  • Transport links
  • Flood risk. Flood risk has a significant impact on insurance premiums and a property’s value. Go to Gov.uk (England and Wales) or the Environment Protection Agency (Scotland) to request reports on whether and why an area is at risk.

#8 House buying tip: Channel your inner estate agent

Consider resale potential. The planning portal again is a great way to learn what’s possible in terms of extending the property. If other people have done a loft extension, then it’s likely possible for you too.

 

Remember, if you’re buying with a renovation in mind, get an architect to review the plan to make suggestions or to check what is possible with planning permission. 

 

#9 House buying tip: Be your own ambassador

Leaflet an area that you like. You may just strike lucky and end up privately buying the house you love!

#10 House buying tip: Don your detective hat

As Albert Hill from The Modern House explains, “Every building has a history of sorts, and it’s great to feel you’re part of a long line of exciting and interesting things to have happened in the space”.

 

Start by seeing if the property is listed by searching the list on the Historic England website. It’s nice to have a listed building, but remember that renovations will be more restrictive and more costly. 

 

Also check whether it’s in a conservation area. If it is, read up on the history of the neighbourhood by going to your local authority website.

 

Again it’s worth bearing in mind that conservation areas can have restrictions, such as what windows you can use.

 

 

Phew! It sounds like a lot, right? But when all is said and done, your hard work is going to pay off. And remember, it’s always worth listening to your gut.

 

Our HomeNotes Journal is here to bring you clear and up-to-date information for homeowners renovating their homes. For more in-depth help we provide online courses to help you get started the right way!

Dont-Move-Improve-Front

Don’t move, Improve! 2022 Shortlist

Check out the 15 incredible London renovation projects shortlisted for this year’s Don’t Move, Improve! Awards and get inspired!

Read More →
Front

How to prepare your house for builders: 10 things you must do

When getting ready to receive contractors into your home it’s important to prepare your property. Get started with these 10 must do tasks!

Read More →

How much will my extension cost in 2022?

When it comes to home-renovating this is the most common question we get asked. So let’s get right to it, how do you work out the REAL cost? Read on to find out!

Read More →

Where NOT to scrimp on your renovation

Sometimes it’s tempting to cut corners and save a few pounds but it’s likely you’ll regret it in the long term. We share our top tips of where it doesn’t pay to scrimp in your dream home.

Read More →
Trade-Shows-PoulsomMiddlehurst_Amhurst_External-Door

How to make the most of a Trade Show

Returning to thoughts of renovating your home? Then jumpstart your project by attending a trade show. But first make sure you read our top tips on how to make the most of your visit!

Read More →

Top tips for renovating from industry experts

We asked a range of architects and experts working in the residential sector to give us their top tip for homeowners who want to renovate.

Read More →

Worried about increasing construction prices?

Everyone is concerned about increasing construction costs. We talk to BuildPartner about what measures home renovators can take to reduce risks for their projects.

Read More →

Your handy guide to assessing builders

Linden from Weaver shares his a handy guide to assessing builders. So before a spade is in the ground, it’s worth taking a moment to prepare.

Read More →
Little-Bishop-Front

Product spotlight: Little Bishop Hook

A neat solution for pendant lighting; we take a look at the clean design and appealing simplicity of the Little Bishop Pendant Hook

Read More →

The ‘Iron Triangle’ you should embrace

It may sound daunting, but knowing about the ‘Iron Triangle’ in advance can help you plan your project and set realistic expectations.

Read More →

Making the most of your outdoor space

If you’re living in London, then chances are you’re severely lacking in one department: outdoor space. But even if you only have a small patch to play with, this space can do so much for you with a bit of care and forward planning.

Read More →
Ultimate-Guide-To-Extractor-Fans-Front-Cover

Your ultimate guide to extractor fans

Our complete guide answers all your extractor fan questions (even those you didn’t know you had!)

Read More →
EJ-Ryder-Interview-Front

EJ Ryder and the world of joinery

Edwin J Ryder and his team specialise in bold, creative design and impeccable workmanship in their joinery and interior finishes. We spoke with Edwin to find out how they work with clients on their property renovations.

Read More →
The-Modern-House-Front

Why well designed homes cost more

Good design isn’t just a luxury for those with the biggest budgets; it’s a sound financial decision for everyone. We take a look at The Modern House and their approach.

Read More →
Millennials-Managing-Money-Front

True or false: millennials are bad at managing money?

Research shows that millennials are the group most likely to overspend on their home improvements. Poor money management, or is there another explanation?

Read More →
Trade-Shows-PoulsomMiddlehurst_Amhurst_External-Door

Being the boss (yes that’s you!)

As a homeowner undertaking a renovation project, you become ‘The Client’. It can sound pretty clinical, but what does that actually mean?

Read More →
TurnerArchitects_SthCroxtedRd_Cover

Your ultimate guide to cabinet handles

Handles are that small but important detail that can really lift a piece of furniture or a space. But look no further for your ultimate guide!

Read More →

How to use colour in your home renovation

Committing to colour in your renovation can be daunting but read on and find out the ways you can use colour in your home – with confidence!

Read More →

Living on site: Should I stay or should I go?

It’s tempting to try and ‘live in’ while your house is being extended or improved. Here we explain why that might not be the best option…  

Read More →

Why we’re over open plan living

Open plan spaces look great in the magazines, but are they practical for the realities of family life? Read on to find out why we think there’s a better solution.

Read More →

Coming soon . . .

Our membership is launching at the start of June.  Sign up to get notified when it goes live! 

Sign up for

HomeNotes news

Get monthly renovation articles, advice, news and offers to your inbox!