Location, location, location
It is important to research a particular area before viewing lots of homes or making an offer on a house there. If you decide it is not the kind of neighbourhood you would enjoy living in, then you could save yourself a lot of time and effort by doing so early on in the process. Even if you can get a bigger home for your money in an area which isn't so nice, make sure you really are doing the right thing. Remember that you can always make changes to a house but not to the neighbourhood.
- What is the neighbourhood like? Is it the kind of place you can imagine yourself feeling comfortable in? Who lives there?
- What kind of amenities are there locally? Check out the leisure facilities, activities for kids, shops, public transport and so on.
- If you have children, look at the local schools. Do they have a good reputation? Where do they stand in the league tables?
- What is the level of crime in the neighbourhood? Check crime reports in the local newspaper or crime statistics online, such as those supplied by the Home Office.
- How easy is it to reach your workplace?
- What council tax band will you be in?
- Will you have enough car parking space?
- What kind of condition are the other houses in your street in? If they are in a state of disrepair, or look as if they are falling into one, it could bring down the value of your property.
Simply touring the area can give you a good idea of what it is like. There are also some good sites on the internet where you can research different areas and what is available there. Gentrification is a key indicator of an area which is improving and where house prices are more likely to go up. Key signs of gentrification include an abundance of cafes and trendy home design shops. Another sign of a good area to invest in is one with a lot of interest from property developers. Find out if any new flats and homes are being built. Local newspapers and council websites are a good source of information about planning activity, as well as information about local schools.