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How to find your forever home during lockdown

30 April 2020

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It’s fair to say the coronavirus pandemic has certainly left its mark on the property industry, with transactions paused, estate agents closed, and physical valuations and viewings banned. But just because you aren’t able to look around a property in-person, doesn’t mean you can’t find your forever home. Why not use the extra time on your hands to get your search underway?

Check your mortgage eligibility

Before you find your dream house, remember to check if you’re eligible for a mortgage and how much you can borrow. There are a number of factors that affect this such as your employment status, your credit rating, your regular spending, any debts you might have, and of course, how much you want to borrow.

Agree on a budget

This will partly be dictated by the above, but also by some additional factors such as how much of your savings you’re willing to use, as well as whether you need to set aside any budget for home improvements for your new place.
Try and agree a figure, or at least a ball-park as it’s easy to get carried away on your property search!

Determine what you’re looking for

With so many properties to browse, it can get overwhelming, so make sure you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for. You may have to compromise, but if you draw up a list of nice-to-haves and non-negotiables, it should make it easier to find a home that has the elements most important to you, whether that’s a garden, or a second bathroom, or being away from busy roads.
You might also want to think about whether you’re after somewhere that’s ready to move in to, or a property that you’re happy to fix up and make your own.

Future-cast

The point of a forever home is that it still suits you and your life for years to come. Obviously no one can predict the future, but you can try and keep tomorrow in mind, so think about whether you’re likely to have children in future, or if you already have kids, are they going to be starting school in the coming years? Are you planning to stay in your current job, or will you need somewhere that’s well-connected in case you plan to look further afield for work?

Browse your local estate agent or property website for listings

Now you have a strong idea of what you’re searching for, get browsing through those listings! Look online at the homes for sale from your local estate agent, or get on the likes of RightMove and Zoopla. You can even save your filters and set up email alerts so that when a property is added that meets your criteria, you can be among the first to know.

Research the local area

See something you like the look of? Remember, you can make adjustments to a property but you can’t change your neighbourhood, so make sure you do your research on the local area. Think about the kind of lifestyle you currently lead and if you’d need to make any changes. Your local estate agent should be able to help you with information regarding local transport, schools or shopping facilities, but it might also be worth asking people who already live there what it’s like. If you don’t already know anyone in the area, join a local Facebook group and ask any questions you may have to current local residents.

Consider virtual viewings

If you find a house or flat for sale that you’re interested in, there are plenty of agents our there facilitating both virtual valuations and viewings, so you can still take a look around the interiors without actually going there!

Check that fixtures and fittings are up-to-date

A lick of paint might not be a big deal, but windows that need replacing or a bathroom that needs renovating might be a different situation. You might also want to check out things like the boiler, and keep these in mind when addressing your budget, and these can put your overall spend up.

Think about natural light

It might not be the first thing that springs to mind when searching for your forever home, but it is something that can make a big difference to your daily life, so try and find out how much natural light is let in. If you can, see if you can have virtual viewings at different times of day.

How much could you sell it for?

And finally, whilst we know the point of a forever home is that you aren’t planning to move, sometimes circumstances change, so it does pay to make sure you consider how saleable it is.

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