If you’re living in Guildford and fancy moving to Godalming, it’s a relatively easy decision to make. You’ll already know the local area, it’s easy to go and explore and even do a drive past of houses you’re interested in.
But if you’re based in Manchester and are relocating, weighing up whether to concentrate your search around Woking, Dorking or Sutton is much more challenging.
Buying a new home is stressful enough. Buying one in a new area can be, potentially, even more stressful – it’s not only about the property itself, it’s about whether the area feels right and offers everything you want or need.
The decision-making process is huge and you don’t want to make an expensive mistake.
But don’t panic, follow our tips and you won’t spend aimless hours searching property websites.
Know what you can afford to spend
Boring but necessary, this is groundwork that has to be done. There is no point in looking at properties, getting excited and then discovering that the sums don’t add up. The Home Owners Alliance has lots of good advice on affordability, as well as an online calculator that will help you understand what your mortgage will cost.
Choose an area you can afford
Once you know your budget you can then start looking at Rightmove, Zoopla etc to research the areas you’re interested in and compare what you’ll get for your money – the price of a two-bed flat in Richmond will be a three-bed semi somewhere else, so desk research is important.
Decide what type of property you want
Would you prefer a period property or a new-build home? Be clear about your criteria, such as number of bedrooms, garage or off-street parking and garden and this will help you hone your search even more.
What facilities are important to you?
Most property details will include information about transport links and local amenities, which is great for beginning to get local knowledge. But think hard about what you want to get out of your move. Is it important to be within walking distance of a train station or local shops? What’s the area like for entertainment such as cinemas and theatres? Will you want to get involved in community or sports clubs – what’s around?
Does the property fall into the catchment area for good schools?
If you’re a parent (or even if having a family is on the horizon), schools will be high on your priority list. You should be able to check admissions information and how places are allocated on the relevant local authority’s website.
Is there any planned development in the area?
Check the local council website to see if there are any redevelopment projects in the pipeline or approved. Reading objections or statements of support from the public can give you a real insight into the impact a major planning application may have on an area – it could add value in the future to the property you’re interested in or, equally, a huge estate being built around the corner may mean congestion on the roads.
Get a bird’s-eye view
You can’t beat Google Earth for remote exploration of an area. From street view to checking out the wider vicinity, it’s a really useful tool – if that dual carriageway looks a little too close or you had no idea there was a sewage works a mile down the road, you’ll have saved yourself a wasted journey.
Spend time in the area
Don’t just view a property and then leave. Wander around the area to really get a feel for it. If you can visit at different times of the day, even better. What’s the area like at night? Is it busy during rush hour? Are the streets clean? Is on-street parking an issue? How long does it take to walk to the bus stop or train station? Does the pub on the corner get noisy at night? Don’t rely on what the estate agent tells you – they are there to sell properties, after all and will play down potential negatives to an area.
Found the perfect home after all that?
Once your offer has been accepted don’t forget to book a property survey with a reputable building surveying company that knows the area!