Buying a home: Part 2


Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions most of us will ever make. And because it’s not something we do every day, the home-buying process can be daunting for both first-time buyers and existing homeowners alike. Poor decisions could cost you thousands of pounds and good decisions save you similar sums.

If buying a home is right for you (whether you’re a first-time buyer or you’re moving home), it’ll be easier and less stressful if you follow a sensible process.

In a series of 5 guides we set out all what you need to know and do to help you on this journey.

Part 1 - Four things to consider about buying a house
Part 2 - 12 things to consider in choosing a home
Part 3 - 3 steps to financing your home
Part 4 - How to negotiate the purchase of your new home
Part 5 - The mechanics of buying your new home

Buying a home - Part 2: 12 things to consider in choosing a home

Buying a home usually involves a series of compromises between what you need, what you want and what you can afford. Taking some time to think through what really matters to you will help you decide between must haves and nice to haves, and avoid spending more than you can reasonably afford. So what really matters in choosing a home?

How will the location affect the size of your home?

  • If you’re considering various locations, make some quick searches online to get an idea of how prices vary in each area. You may have to decide what's more important: the type and size of home you have or your location?
  • For example, for a given budget, the home you’ll get in London will be much smaller than what you could buy outside. And, in some parts of the UK, property prices are only a fraction of London prices.

How will the location affect your cost and quality of life?

  • Factor in your travel costs and the cost to your quality of life and health of time spent commuting to work.
  • Owning a larger home away from a city is of limited value if you end up sitting in traffic (or on a train) at 7am and again at 7pm most days. (Very long work days are seldom good for relations at home either).
  • Living costs and leisure activities might cost more in London and other cities. But, if you want the city life and facilities, then living near it will give you what you want and save you time and money.

Factoring in the family dimensions

  • If you have a young family (or are planning one) you need to factor in childcare costs, which vary enormously across the country, as you can see here.
  • Property prices in popular school catchment areas can cost between 10% and 40% more than those just outside. So, you might need to forego some of your other home requirements if this is a priority.

How many rooms do you need – and how big must they be?

  • How many bedrooms do you need for yourself and your family (if you have one).
  • Do you need a lot of storage space in your home? Would attic space meet your needs in this area?
  • If you work from home, perhaps you need a separate and quiet office space?

What are the ‘must-have’ features of your home?

  • Do you need a large kitchen, a utility room, a real fireplace?
  • How much natural light is enough (or too much) for you?
  • And what about the external appearance of the property?

Watch out for ongoing costs of older properties

Old, idyllic homes might have character, but can you afford to maintain one?

Be sure to avoid flood (and other) natural risks to your home

Some homes can appear to offer great value for money, but you need to be sure that you’re not exposed to risks from the elements, such as flood damage in low-lying areas or salt damage (or coastal erosion) near the sea.

Consider what man-made disturbances are acceptable

Trainlines, flight paths and busy roads may be worth considering when choosing your location.

Be sure to get the broadband speeds you need

There are still many areas – including new housing developments – where broadband speeds are insufficient for digital work or entertainment. And in some areas, there are no imminent plans to improve the situation either.

Go for the garden you need

  • Do you enjoy gardening or are you prepared for the time it will take to maintain a garden?
  • If you want play areas for your children, is the availability of local parks more important?

Do you need a parking space on your property?

Is a parking spot non-negotiable?

Do you want shops within walking distance

Having shops available locally can save a lot of time on your day-to-day groceries.

When you’ve got an idea of the area in which you’d like to buy and you have your list of requirements, you’ll make better progress with your online searches and in discussions with estate agents in your target local area.

We suggest that you do talk to local agents for their deep local knowledge. And, that you view several properties and ask the hard questions, based on your requirements and other issues you identify whilst viewing.

In the next blog in this series we explain some of the financing options available to you, click here to read. 

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