How to choose your home

Anyone who has watched Kirsty Allsopp and Phil Spencer as they guide prospective home owners around a series of properties in Location, Location, Location, will know just how tough it can be to find the right home. Often couples will give a brief on what it is they are looking for, only to end up going for something completely different.

So, what should you be thinking about when you’re choosing your new home? Here’s our top ten tips on what to consider:

1/ Affordable price.  This might seem like stating the obvious, but it is so tempting to push your budget just that bit too far. Work out what you can realistically afford because there is no point finding your dream home and discovering it’s a nightmare to keep making the monthly mortgage payments.

2/ Maintenance. Great having a pool here in the Channel Islands, but have you factored in the maintenance costs? Likewise heating, looking at a house in the summer and it feels light and airy with high ceilings and wooden floors? Remember that in the winter that could translate into drafty and difficult to heat. Are you on mains water and drainage? If not you are going to have to pay for water purification etc so factor this in.

3/Location. Is the view or the bus ride more important? Do you need easy access to work and schools? Do you go out a lot in the evenings and like to have a drink or two? Think about what location will best suit your lifestyle.

4/ Storage. You might love that flat by the sea, but where will you put your surf boards and sea canoe? It’s amazing how many properties just don’t feature decent storage. Like cycling? Where’s your bike going to go? Got a big collection of film memorabilia or vintage toys? Make sure there is plenty of space for the things you love in life.

5/ Future-proof. We tend to change our property according to our stage in life, but you need to allow for some cross-over. If you’ve just got married and you know you are going to start a family at some point, make sure your new home will give you the option. You’re not going to want anywhere with lots of steps for example – carrying a pushchair and heavy sleeping baby up four flights might keep you fit but add in the shopping and it becomes a nightmare. Take a friend or family member around to give experienced advice.

6/ Neighbours. Go round at different times. Viewing in the day when everyone is at work could give you a completely different experience of the property than when they’re all at  home. That includes assessing the thorny issue of parking.

7/ Investment. We all hope our properties will increase in value over time, but looking at the type of property and where it is can give you some indicators as to how much you might possibly gain. If you buy something that needs some work then you are more likely to get a good price and add value, but if the property has been on the market for quite some time think about why that might be. Is it nowhere near facilities or transport links for eg? Unless that situation is about to change it could make it difficult for you to sell-on when you need to move. Remember that the estate agent wants to sell to you, especially if it’s been on their books for some time. Getting another opinion might be a sensible move if you’re unsure.

8/ Condition. Look carefully and make sure that the current owners haven’t done a quick make-over to cover up problems. Ideally you should get a condition or structural survey on your property, but at the very least take a good look at newly painted walls and ceilings for damage. Are there cracks in outside walls which could be evidence of subsidence? Lots of air freshener? It might be that it’s just masking the owner’s cooking smells but it could be an attempt to hide damp or other worrying odours.

9/ What might be happening? That run down glasshouse site behind might be a bit of an eyesore, but it’s quiet and you won’t get overlooked – but have you checked to see if there are any planning applications on the site? Development might be good if it means improved facilities or services to your prospective property, but it could mean months of noise and at worse a large development which could destroy some of the reasons why you loved the property in the first place. It’s easy to check the planning register online.

10/ Good old ‘gut feeling’. You can walk into a house and just love it, others will leave you cold.  Going with that feeling is important, this is where you’re going to spend a great deal of time so if you start thinking about where you’re going to put your favourite chair or painting or imagining yourself sitting looking at your Christmas tree, then this could be the right place to call home. At the end of the day it’s all about individual choice and as this is your home, it’s entirely up to you.