What makes the perfect property? Whether you’re buying a new home for yourself or making a property investment, it’s a big purchase. In fact, there’s not many things bigger than real estate that the average person will buy in their lifetime. Because of this, every property needs to meet the right criteria. If you’re currently shopping around for a house or an apartment, here’s a checklist of some of the things to consider to ensure that you get the best for your money. It’s unlikely you’ll find somewhere that ticks all the boxes, however these pointers should help you get as close as you can possibly get to that dream property.
Is the location right?
Location is probably the biggest factor to consider when buying a property. You can do up the ugliest house in the world, but you can’t change the area around it. If it’s a home for yourself that you’re looking for, you should try to do some research into the area. Is the crime rate high? Are there shops and other important services in the area? Is there parking? Do the neighbours like the area?
If you’re moving a long distance, you may then have to consider other criteria such as job prospects. Commitments such as a career, family and children could limit your options. If you have no real ties, you may still have certain preferences such as social opportunities and the general friendliness of the neighbourhood to consider. Before or after your property viewing, try to have a look around the area to get a feel for it. It can also be worth visiting at different times – sneaky estate agents may avoid times of the day when planes are flying overhead or neighbours decide to play their music loud.
Even if you’re looking for a property to rent, you’ll still need to consider the preferences of your potential tenants. A property in the wrong area might not attract anyone, such as a country cottage in an area where most tenants want the convenience of urban living.
Don’t be afraid to look afar in the case of a rental opportunity. You don’t have to handle all landlord affairs yourself and could simply hire a trusted property manager to screen tenants, chase up rent and keep on top of maintenance.
Is it a good investment opportunity?
Unless you’re buying a property to live in for the rest of your life, you may want to think about the money you can make out of it when you sell it. Certain areas will have a greater appreciation value. Buying abroad can sometimes be a great option for this if you’re not looking for somewhere to live in. There may be a brand new condo for sale that in a couple years could be worth even more. In the meantime you could simply rent it out to cover its mortgage.
You then have the interior of the house to consider – could you make any changes or renovations that could massively up its value? Those clued up in investment know the cheapest home improvements that will add the biggest value. For example, opting for a loft or garage conversion over an extension could help increase value by adding another room without having to pay for the costs of brickwork and foundations.
Is it energy efficient?
There are many benefits to going green – it needn’t even be about saving the environment. Eco-friendly properties are well insulated, preventing the need to turn on the heating and hence cutting your gas bills. Some may even have solar panels fitted, eliminating the need to ever pay an electricity bill. This can dramatically reduce living costs and has made such properties very sought after.
With laws constantly coming in to get us living greener, it also seems sensible to look for an eco-friendly property when considering the future. If your house is already insulated, you won’t have to worry if new laws come in.
Is it low maintenance?
More maintenance means more time and money spent on that property. Old properties are likely to be more high maintenance through wear and tear. For this reason, hiring a surveyor (or checking that the current owner has hired one) can be beneficial for checking the property for any damage that could be costly later on.
This should also be considered if you’re looking for a property to rent. Laws are in place that require you to keep on top of damage for the safety of your tenants.
Also, if you’re not into gardening, think twice before taking on a property with an extensive and well-groomed back yard – if you want to keep it like that you’ll have to maintain it. The same should be considered with big houses and the cleaning that comes with them (although you may be rich enough to hire a cleaner if you can afford such a house).
Is the size right?
The size has to be right for your needs. If you’re keeping tenants there, rooms may have to meet certain dimensions to be deemed legal. If you’re living there, don’t just think about your current needs but also what may happen in the future. If you’re thinking of having children or already have a baby, you’ll need that extra space for them to have a room. Alternatively, if the kids have moved out, consider whether you really need that extra guest room or whether downsizing would be more financially sensible.
Has it got a good history?
Suspiciously well priced houses can be worth looking into. It may have a string of previous owners that have left in short succession due to problems with the house that an estate agent is likely to avoid bringing up. The property could have a recurring problem with pests, there could have been a murder in it previously or there may even be rumours of hauntings. For peace of mind, it’s always worth checking out these details from the agent or seller if you think the pricing is oddly low – they may be desperate to get rid of it due to its notorious history.