How To Find Your Perfect Home
How to Research and Buy the Right House
If you're looking to buy a house right now, you might be scared by all the reports in the newspapers and on the TV.
But, the reality is that during any housing price crash or even during a credit crunch there ARE people who are buying and selling houses for many good, solid reasons.
People will want to buy a house because they've found their perfect house, or they're relocating and want to be settled. Some will be wanting to start a family and will need to ensure their house is in the right school catchment area.
But how do you make sure you're buying the right house at the right price?
What should you do to check?
How can you check the house is right for you?
Here are my top resources I use to look for houses.
It's a comprehensive list of resources that I hope you'll love as much as I do!
Watch House Price Reductions As They Happen
If you're looking in an area using the Rightmove website, you might not notice when a house has just dropped by £10,000 or even more. I've found houses with massive price drops. So what tool will show you which houses are dropping in price and by how much?
To use this tool you'll need to use the Firefox browser. This is free and you get it from http://www.firefox.com/ . Once you've installed that, go to the following site and download/install the free Property Bee plugin: http://www.property-bee.com/
Now simply go to the Rightmove website and as you do your searches it will keep and display the price of the houses you are viewing. As you return over the coming days and weeks you will instantly see where the new houses are coming onto the market or where prices are dropping! You'll be amazed.
What Does the House and Area Look Like?
There's no point arranging a viewing if the house turns out to be next to a gasworks or right under an electricity pylon, so how can you check?
Once you've found a house you think you're interested in, try to find its postcode. You can do this by using google to find the address. Once you have the postcode, go to http://www.aboutmyplace.co.uk/ and look for "Birds Eye View". It's not available on every postcode, but is especially good in town and city areas. You'll see the house and road in 3D and can have a really good look around the area. See what's in the gardens of neighbours, see where public footpaths wend their way across an estate, check how parking looks in the general area.
How Poor is an Area?
People talk about not wanting to live on a council estate, perhaps, but mostly what they're really objecting to is moving into an area that has a high level of deprivation. Areas of high deprivation do tend to be those with most anti-social behaviour, so this is a consideration for most people when they're investing so much of their money in a house.
For this I use the area deprivation tool. This can show you over a small area where road by road things change from being a nice road to a less nice road. Unfortunately the site's gone down, but it was at localarea.com - there are other sites similar to this though where, by keying in the postcode you see how deprived an area is compared to perhaps where you are now, or the next village. Ideal if you don't know the area you're moving to.
Often you can't search on Rightmove within very specific areas. This is where my next tool comes in very handily. Go to http://www.nestoria.co.uk/ and type in the area you are interested in. With the sliders at the top you can adjust the price range and with the map on the right you can zoom into and out of areas to provide you with just the search area you're looking for on a map. Each property is plotted on the map with a flag. You can sort the results on the left dependent on price, number of bedrooms or even how long the property's been on the market. It might be that the houses that have been on longer are most likely to be open to a lower offer than those who are newly to market.
Where Else Can I Research the Area?
You can directly look at Government statistics for an area on a great website at: http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/
Armed, again, with only the postcode you can find out about census statistics, crime, safety, economic deprivation, education, skills, training, health and care, housing, work deprivation and more.
How Long Has a House Been Up for Sale?
This is a tricky one to find out. It isn't one piece of information you can simply find out. However, try the following:
1) Ask the estate agent who has it on their books. They should be able to tell you, but be aware that they might not be the first agent it has been on with
2) See the Home Information Pack for any dates. This might be a better indicator.
3) Use the Nestoria site listed above to search in order of oldest properties, but this only shows the last time the property details were updated on the site nestoria is pulling the information from.
4) You can use http://www.upmystreet.com/ to search for houses for sale. When the results come up, it shows you "For sale since". Again, be mindful that the house might have been on with another agent before this one. But it's a clue!
More House Buying Tips
- List of Sell Your Own House Websites
Many people these days are selling their own house, so you need to know where those houses are advertised so you know you've seen everything that's available.
- Buying a House in Scotland - Essential Websites
Below is a list of some of the major websites you can use to find property for sale in Scotland.
- List of Property Auction Websites
Here is a completely free list of property auction websites - for property auctions in the UK. If you're looking for homes for sale, then you need to keep an eye on property auctions.
What Is a Reasonable Price For a House?
House prices DON'T always go up. They spend a lot of their time going down, or doing nothing at all (called stagnation).
Now we've had a few years of house price falls, you need to make sure that the price being asked for a house is fair and in keeping with the local market.
To work this out, you should first check out how much houses in the area have sold for in the past. Remember though that the price a house sold for in the past is no indicator of its current value.
To find out how much houses have sold for, try the following sites, which have a list of sold prices:
For example, a house might have been bought a year ago for £80k and now be for sale for £150k, while the owner might have bought a perfect house and painted it magnolia (as per the TV programmes!), it might also have been bought as a burnt out wreck! What you need to be asking yourself is how does the price today compare to other house prices that have sold in recent months.
If all the other houses in the road have never sold for more than £120k then the £150k would seem a tad optimistic. On the other hand, investigate it properly, it might be the only 4 bed detached in a road of 2-bed houses. It might also have a double garage when all the others have none. You're going to pay a lot of money for your next house so research properly!
I hope the above helps you to look in more depth at your next home you buy and feel confident that if you're buying, you're buying the right house for you and your family!
A few years ago this information was more difficult to get your hands on - and virtually impossible before 2000.