How to buy a house: Finding the right property

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!!

  • I am so vague about what we want: either something by the lake or something in the country with land. Beyond that I haven’t thought!

    • It’s amazing how quickly you narrow down what you’re looking for once you start exploring. I’ve heard houses by lakes in Canada are super expensive? A bit living if you live with a sea view in the UK? Do you think you’ll manage to buy the house of your dreams and live by the lake in the country with land at some point soon? 😉 xxxx

  • Such a good tip about estate agents – I am STILL getting calls from one in London from back when I was flat-hunting in 2005 offering me cheap 1 bed flats!! Argh! I keep begging them to remove my number and they promise they have, but sure enough, 6 months’ later…grrr!
    The back of your house is beautiful! So looking forward to seeing inside. And I agree, the loo has to go! You are going to have so much fun knocking that down. So excited for you – I remember this stage when we bought ours, mulling over all the possibilities. Now we’re in the midst of the final big project to turn it into our perfect house which is also amazing. But even looking at how far we have come I still wonder if we will ever really be finished! x

    • Woooaaaa they are so pesky, that’s insane! We’ve been told to live in the house for a while before making major changes, which will quite honestly be fine as we do not have the cash to do anything huge currently!! I can’t believe you’re in your final project, that’s so exciting! What will you do when you’ve got it all done – enjoy the DIY free time, or sell up and start again somewhere new? 😉 xxxx

  • OH MY GOODNESS – I am so jealous of your house! It’s beautiful – basically, my dream country house. It took us two years to find and buy the right house for us … and it was so stressful! The estate agents were AWFUL – all of them. Awful when we were renting, awful when we were buying. So happy to be where we are now, but I can definitely relate to everything you wrote about in this post – especially that “drive-by”! Shortly after we put in our offer on our house, we went back around 10 pm or so and just stood outside like creepsters for about 15 minutes or so, just to see how noisy it was at night. But it’s something that is so important to find out before you commit!

    http://www.angloyankophile.com/

    • That is SO true! you only usually see the house once, if not a couple of times before you offer them the most money you’ll ever spend on anything for it! Madness really, but so worth trying to speak to some neighbours, looking up crime stats, visiting at different times of the day and in different weathers! It’s pretty much taken us nearly as long tbh, we were looking for about a year and then once we found it it’s taken us 9 months since our offer was accepted! We even ended up cutting out the estate agents and just going directly through the seller and solicitors as they kept telling us lies! Horrendous! Where have you bought now? xxx

      • Oh well done for not having to go through an agent! We’re in London – Walthamstow. Originally, we’d put in an offer on a house in Greenwich that was accepted, but the sellers were dawdling over their financial situation, which gave us the opportunity to realize that Greenwich was actually an awful location for us in terms of our commute and proximity to friends/family, so we totally dodged a bullet with that one and feel so lucky! Plus, we made a saving of £150,000 with this property, so THAT’S a big sigh of relief. Yikes – I shudder to think of it now! xxx

        • Oh unfortunately we did go through an agent, well, the seller was with Stags, but in the end they made so many huge errors that we just bypassed them and had to deal with it all ourselves. They hadn’t even realised that we hadn’t moved in until April – they’d “assumed” we had been living there since January, that’s how clueless they were! Sometimes it really works out for the better doesn’t it- as stressful as it feels at the time waiting and failing, you realise it actually worked out for the best! We would never have been able to afford it if the house had gone through swiftly, so waiting 9 months meant we could at least save up a LOT more money! A saving of £150k is literally the price of a house so that’s incredible. I mean, in London terms I can imagine it’s only a small chunk, but it sounds like you really did end up with a much better deal! xxx

          • ARGHH! It doesn’t beat the time we were renting and looking for a new flat and the agent was about to show us … THE VERY SAME FLAT WE WERE LIVING IN. I should have told him that we’d meet him at the property. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM?! On another note, I am so happy to have discovered your blog (I can’t remember how)! Looking forward to more posts from you!

            • Seriously?! That is INSANE! (but somehow doesn’t surprise me!) Ahhh thanks lovely, it’s very nice to have discovered you too, I’m surprised we haven’t bumped into each other before! <3 xxx

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