Finding a property

The information in this guide was last updated on 26/02/2014

Choosing a location

You can usually make changes to a property, but you can’t alter where it is – that’s why location is so important when you’re buying a home.

If you’re thinking about buying a property in a new area, you need to make sure the location suits your lifestyle.  

Take a walk around the neighbourhood at different times and on different days. Do you feel comfortable? Does it feel friendly and safe? Could you imagine yourself living there? Also think about:

  • is the area close to work?
  • how far would you be from family and friends?
  • is there easy access to main roads?
  • what are the shops and restaurants like?
  • what’s the level of crime in the area?

Other guides you may like...

Looking for a property

Once you’ve decided on an area and you know what you can afford, you need to search for and look at properties.

You can search for a property through:

  • estate agents in the area
  • estate agents’ websites and other online property sites
  • local newspapers
  • house building companies listed in the area
  • auctions.

Remember to check whether the property is freehold or leasehold.

A freehold property gives you complete ownership of both the land and the property for an unlimited time.

A leasehold property doesn’t include the land on which the property is built. Instead you pay ground rent to the freeholder – the owner of the land. You might also have to pay a service charge.

Viewing a property

It’s important to stay focused on your needs when you view a property, and not lose sight of the reason you’re moving. Give yourself plenty of time for each viewing and have a list of useful questions to ask the owner or the estate agent. These can include:

  • why are the owners moving?
  • are they looking for a quick sale?
  • what are the neighbours like?
  • is parking a problem?
  • which direction does the house or garden face?
  • what is the catchment area and are the local schools good?
  • what’s the cost of heating the property?
  • how much is Council Tax and utilities?
  • what fixtures and fittings are included?

It’s a good idea to take someone else with you when you go to a viewing – they might notice things you don’t. Also, be aware that the sellers don’t have to tell you about all the problems a property may have. Look for any ‘cover ups’, but don’t be put off by things like décor – this can easily be changed.