Buying a house is exciting – and that’s why it’s important to take a step back and check that you’re weighing up all the facts every now and again.
That might sound boring – but thinking with your heart instead of your head can lead to issues further down the line… you’d be amazed at how many people say “I wish we’d just thought about…” a year or so after moving home.
Don’t worry though, we’ll run you through 9 important considerations you can refer back to throughout the process!
- Do the maths
“How much can I/we afford?” is a question that people often approach with no real intention of getting a calculator out and making some notes.
If you run your finances as a tight ship, then you’re probably already up on what you can afford – but if you’re in the habit of living month-to-month with no real system to your income and expenditure then now’s a good time to get a good understand of your financial picture.
The reason we say this is simple – money is very difficult to keep track of. Think about how much you spend on food shopping each month, now add the figure up from your bank statements – there’s a very good chance that most people are significantly out on those two numbers!
Work out what comes in, what goes out and what your monthly commitments are – then work out what you can afford to spend each month. Miscalculations at this stage can have a big impact on your enjoyment of your new house.
- What can you afford now?
It’s easy to hope for the best when you’re buying a new house – but the only thing you can really take as a certainty is how much you can afford now.
Perhaps you’re thinking about that job promotion that’s just around the corner? Or maybe you’re of the opinion that you can slice your outgoings down to size when you move in? Perhaps you can – but to be sure, try cutting back now and see if it suits you.
If your plans don’t come to fruition then you’re going to be very uncomfortable in a home you can’t quite afford.
- Don’t feel pressured
Looking around potential new homes is wonderful – and if you’ve seen any day-time television you’ll be well aware that sellers often look to make their homes as ‘sellable’ as possible, stripping out as much as they can so you can see yourself and your things in the space.
Combine this with a charming and persuasive estate agent and you’ll quickly find yourself saying yes when you were just planning a look around. Unless you’re visiting with the intention of making an offer then don’t – and don’t be swayed by estate agents suggesting anything different. It’s a big decision; do it on your terms, not those of a salesperson.
- Don’t be polite when it comes to price
As a nation we’re often stereotyped as being polite – we tend not to feel comfortable haggling over price or terms. If this sounds like you, buying a house is a time to step out of this comfort zone.
You’re not hear to make friends with the vendor – you want the best possible price. Start low – you can always move up – but if they say yes right away, you might find yourself wondering if you could have gone a little lower…
- Try not to rush
This could be the house you’re going to live in for a significant amount of time – so don’t make a decision based on 10 minutes of looking around!
If this house looks like it could be the one, then explore every inch of the place – will you fit your furniture in? Where will guests stay? How accessible is the storage? Can you put a cat-flap in? Will your car fit in the garage?
Some of those are obscure questions – and you’ll have your own list – but it’s important not to leave any unknowns if you’re going to be 100% happy in your new place.
- Prepare your questions
When you walk into a house you love it’s possible all those important questions will slip out of your mind. Write them down and note the answers as you look around – your brain might not be trustworthy when your heart is excited!
- Travel the routes
Google Maps is useful – but it’s not going to give you a really accurate feeling for what the drive from your home to work is like at 8am on a Monday morning, nor is it going to tell you whether or not you’ll have to park 5 streets away after you’ve been shopping.
Get a feel for travel to and from the house. If you can, travel your commute routes from the house at times you’re likely to be making them, see what the school-run is like – and so forth. Get a feeling for what travel will be like if you decide this is the house for you. You might not worry about an extra 10 minutes on your commute now, but those minutes add up…
- Do your area homework
When you buy a house, you’re buying a life in a new area – whether that’s somewhere different in the country – or just a new part of the same town or city.
Make sure you like the area before you commit. What’s the walk/drive to the local shop like? Are you going to feel comfortable will your family accessing the local amenities? What are crime levels like? Are you likely to see flooding? Who are the neighbours?
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to shut the outside world out completely – so aim to find a little bit of the outside world you’re happy with!
- Think further down the line
No one can predict the future – but you can have a good guess at what life is going to look like for you during your time in this new house. Will your family expand? Could you extend? Could you remortgage with bad credit further down the line? What development will be happening in the area?
These things might not impact you for years – but years can fly by – so it’s better to think about them now, rather than end up wishing you had.