How to buy a house: Finding the right property

As if by magic our house slowly appears bit by bit in posts, and today, it’s the back you get to see!

Btw, that little strange outhouse is actually an outdoor toilet…that’s not even plumbed into anything…yep…just goes into the ground. Said toilet won’t be around for much longer, it makes the back look ugly. Soz toilet.

Anyway, today’s post is the start of a series discussing all things house buying. If you’re really not into that kinda thing then click away, but I’ll be honest, I was clueless before we started. If only I’d read up on someone else’s blog about the long and arduous list of things you have to go through to own a collection of bricks and slate. However, some bits will hopefully be helpful, or interesting, so I’ll push on.

The series sort of started recently when I was discussing saving for a deposit, which I suppose is the natural place to start, as unless you’ve got some moola stashed away, you’re going to find it pretty tricky to even buy yourself a shed to live in.

Adam and I weren’t in a rush to buy a house for this very reason, but finding the right property becomes pretty addictive once you start and it’s actually really enjoyable.

First up, decide your checklist.

This will include, but is definitely not limited to: location; size of property; type of property; age; number of bedrooms; necessary other rooms (e.g. will you deffo need an office or a garage?); preferables such as big garden; or countryside vs city? and the big one; budget.

Setting your budget may or may not help in the end, ours was initially always between £140k-240k on house buying sites like Zoopla and Rightmove, when in fact the house we bought was on the market for a whopping £300k (something which neither of us ever believed we could afford!) It was our wild card place to visit for “one day, we could live somewhere like this”. As it turns out, maybe pushing your budget above what you think you can afford might be worth it, as depending on the sellers situation, they may be willing to accept a much lower offer.

However, I digress.

Initially, and actually for about 8 months or so, we both found ourselves flicking through listings within our set price range, and if we ever found one that ticked our checklist of “older property with classic features but is poorly maintained or needs lots of work to it, with 3+ bedrooms, a garden and a garage” we’d usually book to go and view it. I reckon in total we viewed around 20-25 houses. Yep, we’re picky.

However, our checklist was also quite specific, and none of the properties quite fit what we were looking for. Either they’d be too nice inside (oh the irony) so we wouldn’t have lots of DIY to do, or they’d have a tiny garden (but where’s our future pup Frank going to run around?) or they’d be, well, devastated beyond our capabilities. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that one of the houses we saw was beautiful, but had literal wires hanging out of all the walls and no complete room at all, including kitchen or bathroom.

After looking for a while, you’ll realise you start to easily spot potentials that could be the right property. You’ll trawl through the photos, and the floor plan, then if you really like it you might even look it up on google maps and read the descriptions of each room. You’ll umm and ahh about whether you’d mind having a smaller kitchen, or whether it might be possible to knock through the living and dining room to make it more open plan.

The one thing I would advise is that estate agents are crap.

Apologies if you are one, or you’re married to one, but they really are.

Once you’re on their books, even if you have described the type of property you want in explicit detail, they’ll still offer you viewings of houses you’d never have given a second glance. If you’ve looked at quite a few with different agents, it may well be worth giving them a wrong number as you’ll probably end up with 10+ calls a day offering you “exactly what you’re looking for” only for them to turn out the be the opposite.

Fair enough if you actually go into branch to browse through their catalogues, but ideally, the internet is all you need. Property sites list pretty much every property on the market currently, so they’re really useful for narrowing down searches and quickly going through properties. Though they do tend to show them in date order of when they were posted, so its worth going back quite a few pages to find those that have been on the market a while (if they have, it might also mean you have more bargaining power).

When you’ve found one you like the look of, it’s definitely worth an initial visit- Adam and I got into the habit of doing a “drive-by” before we booked a viewing, as you can get the feel for a place much better than on google maps, and it might save your time if you decide its not the one for you. After that, it’s about ringing the estate agents and booking a viewing. Be open minded, see each room for what it could be, not necessarily what it is (unless you are buying a pristine house, in which case, fair enough!) and ask lots of questions.

Those questions?

I think they’ll wait for the next instalment of “How to buy a house” but in the meantime, happy house hunting!!