I love working with potential buyers to help them on their journey to finding their next property. So in this article, I wanted to share my top tips to help every buyer find the perfect home. You can also download my free Buyers Guide as we’ll have a link in the description box for this article.
So let’s dive right in.
#1 Decide if you want to buy a home
Step #1 is to decide if you want to buy a home. While many people say they want to buy a home, it may not always be the right decision. While I am definitely an advocate for home ownership, I also know it’s really important to live in a space and community you love so if that means that renting makes more sense, then that’s okay too.
#2 Decide What Amenities/Features you Want in your new home
If, say, you’ve just gotten married, it may make sense to rent together first so that you can really decide what are the important features you need in the home you purchase. Perhaps it’s storage, or maybe you thought you could live with a 1 bedroom flat and now it’s become really clear that you need a 2 or even 3 bedrooms. If you have pets, this will be a key feature to look for and actually may impact the type of home you can actually buy.
#3 Decide on a Budget/Get Your Financing
I often get buying enquiries from people who think they are ready to buy and the thing I say is the next step is to figure out a budget and speak to a mortgage advisor. This will give them a really clear picture of how much down payment or deposit they will need to have, what the loan terms may be which will impact monthly mortgage payments as well as repayment or refinancing options down the road.
Part of determining a budget is not just the cost of the property, but also other major components such as stamp duty, closing costs and then the cost of ownership including potentially service charges, ground rent, council tax, utilities, etc. Stamp duty is tiered and can add up to 15% to the purchase amount. If you want to know more about stamp duty, then check out my video on Stamp Duty which is in the link above.
The worst mistake you can make is to have just enough to buy the property but nothing set aside to afford the running costs including routine maintenance.
#4 Decide Where You Want to Live
So now that you know what kind of property you want and have a good sense of budget, you need to next consider where you want to live. London is a diverse and dynamic city and many areas have very distinct character.
We’ve got great area guides on this Youtube channel to give you perspective on different parts of London. From Hampstead to South Kensington to Battersea to Angel, we’ll take you across London and help you understand what the different areas have to offer.
Things that may determine the right area are, of course, commute, affordability, amenities and so on. If you can’t afford some of the areas I just mentioned, you may need to go further out into zones 3 or beyond and then you’ll have to balance area and lifestyle with commuting times. East London and south of the river are generally considered more affordable, but you will just have to make sure it’s the right fit for you.
#5 Choose a Specific Property
Now that you’ve got everything in order and you have an idea of where you want to live, now you can go “house hunting” as we say in America. Most buyers use online portals such as Zoopla, Rightmove, Prime Location, On The Market or Boomin where you will register with many agents.
This can be quite overwhelming as all of a sudden you are bombarded with endless emails of properties that may or may not suit your criteria as agents work for sellers and just need to get their stock sold. Also, you may see the same property again and again with multiple agents, so you’ll need to make sure you’re not calling 2 different agents for the same property.
If you want to avoid that and work with someone who has your back and will guide you through the entire buying process including finding and choosing the right home, then consider working with a Buying Agent or Property Finder like myself. If you want to know more about working with a Buying Agent, then check out my video “Using a Buying Agent in London”.
As you consider properties, beyond budget and amenities, you’ll also need to consider leasehold versus freehold properties, service charges and ground rent, neighbours, etc.
So, are you thinking of buying a property in London, leave me a comment below as to how far along you are in the process?
#6 Make an Offer and Get it Accepted
When you find that right property and make an offer there may be negotiations and you then have the offer accepted. The irony here in this country is that if you’re not working with a buying agent, you have no one representing you and you will have to negotiate directly with the estate agent who is trained and works on behalf of the seller.
Of course, once you’ve had your offer accepted, that is just the beginning of the conveyance process which are the steps associated with due diligence, title work and getting you to completion. We’ve got separate videos on my channel that you’ll want to check out.