Buying a home will undoubtedly be the biggest and most important purchase of your life. It’s exciting – yes, but equally overwhelming and at times even frustrating.
Every single decision feels like it’s make or break. You’ll think you’ve found the one, only to find hurdles, stumbling blocks and hit brick walls that put you back at square one.
Luckily, though, the PropertyPal team have all been through the process and we kind of consider ourselves experts on it. So, we’ve gathered all of our experience and expertise and bundled it up neatly into this guide to simplify the journey for you.
Set Up A PropertyPal Account
If you’re casually browsing PropertyPal without an account, stop reading this and go set one up now. Click here. No seriously, go do it now. This article will still be here when you come back.
You have so many more features at your disposal when you have an account. You can favourite properties and add notes to help keep track of listings you like. You’ll be able to see any changes (eg price changes) to your favourite properties too.
You can also manage any enquiries you’ve sent to estate agents, which is handy if you’re setting up a bunch of viewings and want to keep everything as organised as possible.
Know your budget
Before you even begin looking, you need to know your budget and stick to it. If you haven’t already, then use the PropertyPal Mortgages affordability calculator to get a rough idea of the mortgage you could get.
Or, if you want to go one step further, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage online. PropertyPal Mortgages has a pre-approval tool which will tell you, within minutes, if you’re eligible for a mortgage and will give you a more concrete number when it comes to what you can afford.
Once you have that magic number in mind, don’t stray from it. Don’t even look at houses which are even slightly over budget which will only tempt you.
Location, location, location
Some people will be familiar with the area they want to purchase in, whilst others may want to move to somewhere entirely new. In our opinion, it pays to know where you want to buy as you can keep an eye on what kind of homes are available in the area, what the average asking price is and how quickly they tend to get snapped up.
It also means you can visit the area to get a feel for it and do research about the neighbourhood; seeing what the crime rates are like, which schools are nearby, if building is planned in the area, what broadband speeds are like or if there is any online news about the location.
You need to also assess if this area will work for your lifestyle. For example, how long is the commute to work? Does it have good transport links? Is it close to your family and friends? And what do you love about your current area that this area perhaps doesn’t have?
Top tip – On PropertyPal you can see the number of views each listing has had. If the homes in your preferred area tend to get a high number of views in a short space of time, this is a good indicator that the area is in demand.
To keep yourself on the right track at all times, make a list of ‘deal breakers’ – the things you absolutely want in a house. For example – it needs to have a bath, a south facing garden, a modern kitchen, minimal work/renovations needed.
As well as ‘deal breakers’, note the things you are willing to compromise on, as there are certain features of a property which affect the price and if you’re able to compromise on these, it could help you find a home at a better price.
- Busy roads. If a house is on a main road it is usually cheaper.
- Schools. For some people, the sound of a noisy playground will be irritating but if you work during school hours, you’ll be unaffected.
- Street parking. Homes with garages are typically more expensive, but street parking could bump up the price of your car insurance. You might want to weigh it up.
Save your search
Once you know where you want to buy and how much you’re going to spend, you can set up a ‘Saved Search’ on PropertyPal.com. Simply enter your criteria in the search bar eg ‘3 bedroom house in Portrush for under £200k’ and click the orange ‘save search’ button on the results page. This way you can get alerts every time a new property is added, which meets your criteria.
Once a property has piqued your interest, contact the estate agent for a viewing. This will give you a chance to not only see the property with your own eyes but get the answers to some crucial questions which may sway your decision to purchase.
Questions to ask:
- How many sellers has this home had?
- How many people have viewed it so far?
- How long has it been on the market?
- Why are the owners selling up?
- What is included in the sale?
- Does the house face in a good direction for sunlight?
- Bring someone with you for a second opinion
- Take pictures
- Take notes
- View at different times of day
- Take your time – don’t rush through it
- Check for damp, cracks and damage
- Don’t view too many properties in one day
- Don’t be fooled by good staging and decor
Trusting your gut
Maybe not the most practical piece of advice but it’s significant, nonetheless. We’re not saying that from the second you step foot in a home, you’ll instantly know it’s ‘the one’. What we’re saying is that, if you get a bad feeling about a property, or something just doesn’t feel right, then don’t immediately rush to put in an offer. This is an important decision which requires consideration.
Making an offer
If a property is ticking your boxes, contact the Estate Agent to make an offer. The property will come with an asking price but on many occasions, the vendor will be prepared to accept less than this amount, if the deal is right. The Estate Agent works on behalf of the vendor so they will relay your offer and negotiate with you, if necessary.
When making an offer, the estate agent may need proof you have been approved for a mortgage. This is when you need to show them you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage.
At this point, your estate agent may be very keen for you to use their mortgage broker but you are not obliged to do this. Many people believe that if that by using their agent’s broker, it will make the mortgage process or make a lower offer more likely to be accepted. This is not the case. Many estate agents earn a fee on any customers they refer to their broker and, while they are allowed to recommend their own broker, they can not reward or penalise you for choosing or not choosing to use this service.
There are also some instances when the close relationship between the selling agent and their broker might not be ideal, such as knowing your maximum mortgage amount or if there are any hiccups with your mortgage application.
Last modified: 04/12/2023