How to find the right UK property
Buying property in London and the UK is a cutthroat business. Low supply and high demand - roughly, four buyers for every property on the market - means buyers often need to act incredibly fast to secure that dream home.
The key to finding property in the UK is persistence, patience and a willingness to act fast.
1. Find a good agent
Actually, make that a great agent. You’ll need someone who knows the market inside out, listens to your requirements and is willing to work around the clock to find your ideal property. A good agent will know all the gritty details: how long the property’s been on the market, how many offers have been made so far, and how low the vendor is prepared to go.
2. Plan viewings like a military operation
Put aside a day and do a few viewings. If possible, go on a weekday - everyone wants to look at houses at the weekend, so the pace will be less frenetic. Be absolutely clear on what you want, which will avoid hesitation - the enemy of house hunters in a fast-paced market.
3. Take pictures
After a while properties start to blend into one another. Taking a few snaps as you explore homes will help differentiate the different homes, and help you remember their unique selling points, leaving you better able to make decisions. And while you’re using your phone, check for mobile signal.
4. Think outside the box
Try to look past the present owner’s clutter or unfavourable colour schemes to the property underneath. Visualise where you’ll put your grand piano, or imagine the apartment without that hideous feature wall. If the house has a good design, it’ll be easy for you to put your own stamp on it.
5. Use your senses to gather clues
Viewing properties gives you a chance to channel your inner forensic investigator. Use your nose: can you smell any damp, or mustiness? Your eyes: look for discoloured wallpaper or paintwork that might indicate damp. Look for signs as to why the vendors might be moving: a picture of a baby scan on the fridge, piled-up letters from the bank. This might give you an idea of how long the property’s been on the market - and how ready the vendor is to move. Don’t be afraid to try the shower pressure, or check the boiler - if there are two bathrooms the property will need a decent boiler.
6. Visit at different times of day
Swing by the property at night. Is it noisy? Has that quiet local pub turned into a rowdy free-for-all? You should also dig around to find out a little about your street: when’s bin day? Is there ample parking on the street? Can you hear the trains on the railway line behind the next block - and do they run all night. Speak with potential neighbours if you can: how long have they lived here?
7. Find out about the area’s potential
Find out if there are housing developments planned for the area - developers don’t move in unless they’re certain the market’s buoyant, taking into account local employment levels, demographics, transport links, schools, shops and council spending. Look for skips around the neighbourhood - they’re a good indication that people are moving in and renovating, a sign of an upwardly mobile area. Nice cafes and coffee shops are also a good indication. Find out if additional transport links are being planned for the area.
8. Check for flood risk
Check out the Environment Agency website (environment-agency.gov.uk) for any potential flooding problems in your area. That lovely townhouse won’t look so charming under three feet of water.
For more insider tips, check out our buyer guide, give us a call on +44 (0) 208 344 2339, or email info@propertyUK.com.