Looking for your first house? Get on Rightmove… right now. And set up those email alerts because you gotta be quick.
When looking for your first house there are so many things that people say you need to think about. Area, cost, how many rooms do you need, how much work are you willing to do, how long are you planning on staying for… all the scary stuff, but if you’re like us then I don’t even know where i’ll be next week. All of these factors are really crucial when finding a house you like, but the best thing you can do is to get in your car or on the tram and go look. If you’re not sure on an area, go drive around and see if you like it. It may not be what you thought, or you may end up realising that all the traffic in the world queues there – the other stuff Rightmove doesn’t tell you! We sat outside a house in an area we thought we really wanted to live, and drove away before the viewing as we hated the street.
We were convinced we knew exactly where we wanted to live, down to the estate with the nice drives and front gardens, but actually when we looked at what our budget bought us in the area we realised it wasn’t going to happen unless we bought a shell of a house which needed knocking down, and we actually looked at houses that bad. (A real highlight was the house that looked like there had been a chip pan fire at least twenty years ago, I refused to touch any door handles.) We eventually decided to branch out a little further, and then a little further, until we fell in love with a completely different area, that we had no knowledge on. With parents based in both North and South Manchester, we looked in every area to weigh up the house prices vs the size and value for money, and the ease of getting back in & out of town -as we aren’t willing to give up our Sunday morning strolls down Deansgate. It’s really important to understand the value of the area, so you can understand what kind of house you’re likely to be able for afford. E.g you might only be able to get a small run down house in Altrincham, for the same value as a beautiful four bed in Monton.
When we first started viewing we noticed that everyone else had so many questions for the estate agent, whereas we just wanted to know what the kitchen looked like, and if there was room for all of our shoes. What the hell is Leasehold vs Freehold?! Do your research! The more info you can get on a property the better, because there is no hanging around when it comes to offers. In the current housing market estate agents group bookings together to create a group booking usually spanning over a day, and once they are full then there’s the likelihood the house will sell before they book any further viewings. If a house is booked up for it’s open house then always call the day before to see if anybody has dropped out, theres always the likelihood there may be a slot free.
The main things to look out for when viewing a house are the things you can spot or ask about on the first viewing. As well as the room size and decoration then it’s always worth asking about the neighbours, checking out the parking situation, and why the current sellers are moving (are those teen mums throwing parties next door the reason the sellers are off). The things that are going to be the most costly when moving in are the utilities, when was the house last rewired, and how old is the boiler?
While you might not get a feel for the property straight away, imagine what it will look when you’ll be living in it, and if you have the patience or the funds to get you to that point. Just because you aren’t good at DIY doesn’t mean a house that needs work is a write-off, you’ll be surprised how many ‘friends of the family’ you can find once you need some cheap work doing.
When offering on a house, bear in mind the current housing market is ridiculous – prepare to be disappointed. The house we’ve finally found was our third offer, and the first two were very different stories. House number one, the house of N’s dreams was a three story, three bed house, with exposed brick and THE most beautiful loft conversion in the world. We went back twice in an attempt to make friends with the seller who had showed us around, being the nicest people in the world wouldn’t get us the house – but £20k over asking price would. Bidding wars aren’t uncommon, you’ll hear the phrases best & final, and sealed bids multiple times when trying to get a house. Don’t be pressured into bidding over your means, pay what you think is right, and if you don’t get it you’ll find something else… eventually.
House number two was a panic bid. Ticked all the boxes, ready to live in, but felt like a show home. We offered purely as we felt like we should, and sat texting each other with a feeling of DREAD waiting for the offer to be accepted. Luckily somebody outbid us, but not before the estate agent tried to get us to up the cash. If it doesn’t feel right don’t do it. It ain’t like a dodgy trainer purchase you can just take back.
When we viewed our current house, we didn’t actually feel drawn to putting in an offer. It just didn’t feel like we could put all of our cash into something that smelt so damp. And once we’d missed our chance the first time, we wished we had been quicker with a bid. The survey will flag up any huge problems and there’s the potential to then negotiate with the seller, so don’t always rule out the house that needs some TLC. Happy house hunting!