As you’ll probably remember, we are currently searching for a new home. Folks, I can tell you this isn’t as easy as it sounds, and we’ve spent the last month or so diligently searching house selling websites and viewing houses old and new. We travelled 3 counties looking at show homes, and used up all our grandparent babysitting privileges (thanks Nana, Grandad and Grandma!)
We have a very, very clear list of what we need this new house to do.
- We need a dedicated office space for our fledgling business. Running it on one side of the kitchen table isn’t the most ideal solution for us at the moment.
- We need a decent sized garden for the kids to play in.
- We need a garage and a double driveway. The husbands old banger is parked on the drive all week. It would be good to tuck it into a garage and leave the drive free for me and visitors. A larger driveway will also give the kids a safe place for scooters and bikes.
- A large dining kitchen is a must. I love having family and friends round and we always congregate in the kitchen. I’ve also added a utility room to the list. Not only does it provide much needed storage and keep the laundry out of the kitchen, but when we’re entertaining it’s a useful space to stash plates and glasses out of sight.
- A sewing room is also on the list. Not only for me (but seriously….a sewing room! Squeeeee!), but also for the sanity of everyone else in the house who is currently tripping over fabric, patterns, half finished quilts and bags of yarn.
With this list in hand, every time we look at a property we know before we even view it that it has the potential to work for us or not. If it doesn’t, then we don’t view it. Why waste everyones time?
2. Be realistic about your budget
This should go without saying, but I’m going to say it again.
- Set a budget.
- Stick to it.
No ifs, buts or maybes. If you’ve set your budget at £100K…then £100k it is. Not £110K. Not even £101k. Because once you break that barrier even a little bit, it’s a slippery slope to finding yourself making an offer that will eventually break you.
And whilst we’re on that topic…just because you can borrow £200k, doesn’t mean you should. Interest rates in the UK are at an all time low, which means there’s only one way they can go. People lose their jobs, or have babies, or need to take time off work for other things.
Don’t, whatever you do, take it to the max. Give yourself some wiggle room. You’ll sleep easier at night.
3. View everything that meets your criteria
If it ticks the boxes, go and have a look-see. It might be the one. It might be awful. You won’t know just by looking at photos and floor plans. Estate agents are really good at taking deceptive photos! Just sayin’!
4. Location, location, location
We came so close to buying a house a couple of weeks ago. It was lovely. It ticked all the boxes on our list. It was spacious and pretty and, as it was brand new, would need nothing doing to it except new curtains.
Except….it was the other side of town from the kid’s school and would add 40mins to an hour every day to my school run.
It’s hard enough to get them to school on time living as close as we do (they don’t do mornings…neither do I). But I began to imagine that extra stress in the mornings and we walked away.
It was hard. It was totally the right thing to do.
5. Check out your builder
Many new build houses these days are sold as leasehold. Some builders have a clause in their contracts which stipulate that at some point in the future, when you move on and sell the house you’re buying from them, you’ll need to pay them 1.5% of the SELLING PRICE to get them to change the name of the leasehold document.
I thought Dick Turpin wore a mask!
6. If it doesn’t work…it doesn’t work
Every couple of weeks for the last 8 years or so, Hubby and I have, for one reason or another (usually a reason involving wine or cake) driven past the most beautiful house. Every time we have sighed wistfully and whispered “one day” to each other.
Well, dreams do come true and on Friday we viewed The Dream House. I walked up the flower-banked path to the front door in trepidation. Surely after all this time we couldn’t be disappointed.
Built in the 1880’s its a behemoth of a house. Red brick, stone mullions, carved brickwork. Huge rooms, 12ft high ceilings, a hand-crafted kitchen.
In need of some TLC, but not massive renovations.
We walked back to the car with smiles on our faces. It was the one.
Except…it only has 2meg of broadband. Our business is run solely online. 2 meg of broadband won’t support our business. At the moment we have 150 meg. Without our business…we can’t afford the house. Many hours of searching online and several telephone calls later we’d exhausted all the possibilities. Nobody is running superfast fibre broadband to that house.
It’s a deal breaker. We are walking away. It’s the right thing to do.
So…there are my top 5 tips from the house hunting coalface. We are still looking. We have a very short shortlist. Hopefully by the time the kids return to school we’ll have made a decision. We’re waiting for one more showhouse to be finished so we can include or discount it and then we’ll put our money where our mouth is. Dependent on our decision we’ll either be in our new home before Christmas or by this time next year.
Exciting times! If more than a little exhausting.
ps…all photos are stock images from Shutterstock and not any that we’ve actually viewed.