Financial Planning

10 Quick, Useful Property Search Tips for First-Time Buyers

10 Quick, Useful Property Search Tips for First-Time Buyers

Getting onto the property ladder and purchasing a house is likely going to be one of the biggest buying decisions you’ll ever make.


You therefore need to be really sure that you’re avoiding the common errors committed by first-time buyers, which can end up becoming very costly.


In this guide, our financial advisers are going to share some simple, practical tips on how to get the best deal for your first property purchase.


#1 Know the right websites


No longer are we constricted as house buyers to merely talk to estate agents, or peering through their shop windows! Today, many great offers can be found online through website such as RightMove, Zoopla and


That said, you need to approach property websites like these carefully. Many house sellers will not up realistic asking prices. Rather, they will display what they would like for the property, often going way above what is reasonable.


#2 Speak to estate agents


Some homes never make it online. They are sold before they have the chance to appear there. If you want to get wind of the latest, potential hot deals, then it’s a good idea to form relationships with local estate agents.


Once they get hold of a house sale which fits your criteria, they will be able to notify you – often before others will see or hear of it.


Just bear in mind that estate agents speak to hundreds of people about properties they want to buy or sell. So make sure you come across as a serious buyer, and not someone who is just going to waste their time.


#3 Find out sale prices of similar properties


It used to be that only brokers and estate agents know about how much previous properties in an area had sold for. Now, with websites such as Zoopla, you can find out this information for yourself. This puts you in a much more powerful position as a buyer, since it gives you a useful ballpark cost to work with when negotiating a sale price with the seller.


#4 Check out the area


It’s important to check out not just the property itself that you are interested in. You should also consider the area where it is situation.


In particular, what are the crime levels in the neighbourhood? This is especially important to consider if you have children or vulnerable dependents living with you. However, it could also affect the house price if/when you decide to sell the property yourself down the line.


Another important thing to look at is the risk of flooding in your area. Higher flood risks can negatively affect your property’s value in the future, and it can also result in higher home insurance premiums.


Beyond the obvious risks, make sure you actually visit the area and check out on the pros and cons of the wider area. For instance, what are the shops and restaurants like? Do people in the neighbourhood keep their homes, gardens and cars clean? Are there any train lines or useful public transport links nearby?


#5 Ask sellers for specific information


Before you put in an offer, it’s important to drill the seller with focused, relevant questions about the property. Don’t be afraid to ask them.


For instance, ask them how long the property has been on the market. Inquire about any disagreements or disputes with neighbours.


When was the boiler last inspected or replaced? Is there a fireplace, and does it work? Has it been registered as safe to use? Has any crime occurred in or around the property?


#6 Take pictures


Chances are, you will be looking at lots of different properties. So, take a camera around with you and take lots of pictures of the interior and exterior. (You might just want to check this is OK with the estate agent beforehand).


Organise your digital snaps into folders on your computer. Try and keep your shots organised so you can remember which photos correspond with the property. All of this gives you a wider impression of the property, particularly since sellers on the property sites might not always capture the most accurate depiction of the property when they upload photos themselves.


#7 Knock on neighbours’ doors


Speaking with the neighbours of your potential new house is a useful way to gauge what they are like. They might be able to offer useful insights on the property you are looking to buy, or illuminate useful insights about the local area at large.


However, it’s usually a good idea to speak to the immediate neighbours. After all, they might have an interest in the potential sale. Maybe they are keen to get rid of their neighbours, for instance, and so might not give you the whole/accurate story.


#8 Post some cards


If there is an area you are particularly interested to move into, then consider posting a hand-written card to the residents. Introduce yourself and explain that you are interested in moving into the local area. You might be able to hear about a potential house sale before it even goes to the wider market!


#9 Consider the sale potential down the line


Remember, in all likelihood you will want to sell this property in the future. Maybe you plan on this being your lifelong home, but you never know what might happen. It’s a good idea, therefore, to at least give yourself a good chance of being able to sell it on for a good price so you have that as an option.


For instance, living in a higher-crime area might not bother you all that much. However, it will likely bother many potential buyers when you eventually come to sell it.


Or, it might be that you don’t mind not having two bathrooms. However, put yourself in your potential buyers’ shoes. Are they likely to want a property with two bathrooms?


#10 Set up alerts


If you register with a property website such as RightMove, then you can set up a profile where you get an email notification any time a property comes up for sale which meets your search criteria.


Of course, others who have set this up will get the notification as well. So don’t delay if an email comes through offering something you have been looking for!

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