What’s On Your House Hunting Checklist?

A couple of weeks back I wrote a post discussing the tactics for first time buyers. I discussed a number of considerations that you should make before and during your first house purchase. While I briefly touched on ‘Finding the Right Property‘ after some of the comments I felt that I didn’t emphasise the importance of this step enough.

 

Make a List and Prioritise

In the UK there was a funny commercial run on the radio about buying a house. The advert told a short story about a woman who found the ‘perfect’ home and the husband went through a list of criteria; he would ask if the house had a number of features and then ended on a shed – which it didn’t have. The shed was so important to the man that he wouldn’t consider a property without one. The same company also produced the advert the opposite way around – the man had found the perfect house and the woman went through her own checklist. Instead of not having a shed, this one didn’t have a walk in wardrobe. To the woman, this was essential and she wouldn’t consider the house.

While the above advert is obviously meant to be ridiculous, it does raise a valid point; we all have very different priorities. To some, local schools are the most important element in choosing a property, for others the size of the bedrooms and age of the house are more important. And then there are geeks like me who want to ensure that the house is an appropriate distance from the telephone exchange / in a fiber – cabled area so that they can get fast broadband speeds.

Making the decision to buy your own house is undoubtedly one of the biggest you’ll ever make, so it’s important to take your time and not rush into anything. Before you go forth into the fray of mortgage applications and viewings, have a think about what it is you really want from your home and what kind of area you want to live in. If you’re planning to start looking at houses for sale in Glasgow then sit down and make a check list of things that could be deal breakers before you book your first viewing. That way you’ll stick to your guns and won’t make any rash decisions that you may regret later. These are just some of the things you might have on your checklist.

Post-10-House-Hunting

Typical Deal-Makers or Deal-Breakers

Distance from transport: If you need to catch a train or bus into work every day then it will be a massive help if your home is within walking distance of your local train station or bus stop. Having to walk for ages before you even start your journey properly can really add to your commute and will be a bit miserable in the winter months. If you are making a choice to buy somewhere that doesn’t have good transport links, factor in increased costs of running a car etc.

Size of the rooms: If you have your heart set on a large airy bedroom that has room for lots of big, spacious (walk-in) wardrobes then don’t sacrifice this because the living room happens to be lovely! If other features of the house are particularly impressive they may distract you from the fact that the bedrooms are just about big enough to swing a mouse. Remember why you wanted a big bedroom and stand by that. It is definitely worth prioritising these elements based on how much you are likely to use a given room. For example, we spend a lot of our time in the Living Room so ensured that it was spacious and that it had windows that let in light. The size of the spare bedroom was of far less importance to us.

State of repair: If you really want a house that is ready to move into then don’t be swayed by an ad that tells you the house would ‘benefit from modernisation’. This might be ideal for someone who is a DIY expert and will actually enjoy doing the work that’s needed, but if this isn’t you then it could become a bit of a nightmare. Fixer upper homes are definitely not for the faint hearted. Be realistic in how much time you have to invest in DIY. Just because a house is modern, it doesn’t mean that it is impersonal

First floor or garden: If having some space outside is important to you then just keep on looking until you find somewhere that has a garden, or at the very least a shared garden. If you decide it’s not all that important and you’re persuaded to buy first floor flat instead, you may regret your decision when the smell of BBQ wafts up from the garden below. Also consider how much time you have to maintain a garden and the potential increased costs associated with having to employ a part-time gardener.

Energy Efficiency: This item is increasingly important – and not just with people who want to save the planet. I recently gave you all some energy saving tips for appliances; it is important to apply this mindset to a new house. Does it have double glazing? Thin Walls? Does the home have gas central heating or electric radiators? How old is the boiler and is the roof insulated? How effective and energy-efficient is the air conditioning system (only applicable to my readers across the pond)

Other Important Factors: Finally, think about proximity to shops, parks and amenities. All these things are important though you may not always think about them when you’re focusing on the interior of a house. Don’t let your heart win over your head!!

 

Got any tips to add?!

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Comments

  1. This is a great list! It’s extremely easy to overlook these items when you have home-buying fever. Kitchen size and counter space are a big deal to me as I do most of the cooking. The kitchen also ends up being a very social place for the family and when hosting parties. Something we overlooked that wasn’t a deal breaker at the time was closet and storage space. Our closets are very small and as our kids have grown it has created challenges as we’ve accumulated more stuff.

  2. Don’t forget to look at the state of the major appliances, home heating and air units can be extremely expensive to replace or even repair. Better yet, get the home inspected by a home inspector. It’s worth a few hundred dollars and quite often, they’ll find enough things wrong that you can negotiate a credit for the things they have found.

  3. All great tips. We recently built our home so our search was a little different however we did use some of these tips.

  4. Global commute time would be important for me, as well as the walkability. If you are close to a shop but can’t cross the highway and have to take your car anyway, it is less convenient. Also you can commute 10 miles to work that would take 30 minutes if you leave North of work and 10 minutes if you live South. I read an article saying more people are looking to buy inside London in spite of the prices because commuting is so expensive and takes lots of times they would rather put the money on a mortgage.

  5. Although I’m not in the market to buy, one of the biggest factors for me is the vibe I get from the neighborhood. Location means a lot to me, and not just in the distance to public transportation (I live in LA, so no one really considers this), but just how safe I feel, walking to shops and restaurants, sidewalks, etc. Other things are pretty superficial, but I’d really like my next place to have a dishwasher and access to a washer/dryer.

  6. Distance from the train station, pet friendly (some condos here aren’t pet friendly), safe neighborhood, 2 bedroom, parking, and outdoor space (patio or balcony) were on our list. We compromised on parking and outdoor space, but are happy with everything else. Maybe our next house in the suburbs will have everything.

  7. Justin@TheFrugalPath says:

    For me it’s how well the overall structure is. Cosmetic changes can easily be repaired. But a new roof, furnace ect… just increase the price of the house without much chance for equity.

    • That is a good point. When we bought, we ensured that we bought an older home (traditional solid build). Some of the new timber-frame houses are so flimsy!!

  8. Great list. We definitely considered everything you listed. We didn’t have kids when we moved into our current home but knew they were on the horizon, so to speak. :) So having a good school system was important to us too. The other thing we chose to do was to buy exactly what we needed but at a lower mortgage than we could afford. We didn’t want our mortgage to crimp our passion to travel or for new experiences. A bigger home wasn’t worth it to us. While there are times I wish for more storage space, if it meant we couldn’t spend a week in Mammoth skiing that’s not a sacrifice I’m willing to make. Storage doesn’t give me memories, but skiing with my family does!

    • That is absolutely what we did! Mortgage affordability is not what the banks offer you – it is what you have left when you work out your costs (including travel and savings). I am all about the experiences too :)

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