How to find your dream home

Posted March 25th, 2021 by SimpliSafe

Searching for your perfect home is no easy task. The market is ever changing and to find that forever home which ticks off all your boxes will come with its challenges. But, you can make the process of house hunting for that dream home a lot simpler by following these steps.

Think about your future

It may seem obvious to say ‘think about your future’, but you’d be surprised how many haven’t given it the time it needs and end up buying a home only to have to sell up six months later or earlier. We don’t know what’s round the corner, but we can have inclinations. For example, if you are in a long-distance relationship or dating, you need to be mindful about how quickly things can change and spring up on you - like a romantic proposal and relocation!

You may have plans for adding to the family, renting out rooms or getting pets. Make sure you write down your long-term goals and plans to help you with your house hunting. As you make this list, you will find yourself coming across factors you wouldn’t have even thought of before - like how safe the area is if you’re wanting a cat.

Get property alerts and use apps

Firstly, get registered onto property-search sites (like Zoopla and Rightmove) and use their apps. You can get notified by email or through apps on recently-listed properties that match your criteria. You don’t want to miss out on that perfect property!

Talk to estate agents

Technology is great, but we mustn't forget about getting in touch with humans who are actually selling houses on the daily, and not just rely on algorithms and alerts. Speak to local estate agents about your wishes, deal-breakers and budget. They’ll be able to help with your queries and can give you insight into the average price of the property you’re looking for, and how much similar ones have sold for. Also, sometimes properties are snapped up and sold before they even make it onto a website, such as Rightmove.

Drive around and do research

Believe it or not, many home buyers have shared leaflets or posted letters into homes that have caught their eye on the off chance that the owner might be thinking about selling. In some cases, it has actually worked! Considering you cut out estate agent fees and can make the sale so much quicker, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work. When it comes to your dream home, it’s worth it. It may be that you’ve just come across the ideal property on your trip around a local town. Keep a note of it and reach out by simply dropping in a polite letter about your interest.

Really emphasise why you like it, compliment the owner’s property, and express why a private sale is mutually beneficial (show you’ve done the research). Even if they’re not selling up, they’ll more than likely appreciate the praise and may even contact you to recommend someone they know who is selling a similar property, or if the stars align, they may be persuaded to sell to not miss out on a chance of getting a good deal.

Use social media

As well as using property-search sites and good old Google, try out social media, forums and online groups. There may be some groups dedicated to certain properties that you’re interested in, for example there could be a group dedicated to Edwardian-style homes where they may share ones for sale around the country. Not only that, you can have brilliant discussions and create useful contacts to help you with your search.

Energy-saving homes

If you’re a big fan of helping the environment and saving on energy, look out for properties that do just that. For example, that could be a house with solar panels or a smart, energy-saving home. Alternatively, look out for properties that will be easier to adapt into an energy-saving home, especially if finding properties with eco-friendly features proves difficult. If you’re considering adding solar panels in the near future, how robust is the roof structure? Ideally, you don’t want to worry about having to invest in roof repair costs as well as solar panels.

What to check for when buying a house

There are so many things to consider when buying a home for the first time  or indeed a second or third time round (also see our ultimate moving house checklist). So, when it comes to sealing the deal on your dream home, do remember these checks when viewing:

Check for cracks, dampness and brown stains on the ceiling and walls - this can be a sign of poor plumbing

Don’t be afraid to move things out of the way to check things behind or underneath, like the floorboards to see if they’re dry and even, and what the walls behind the beds are like

Turn taps on to test the water pressure, test flushing and check underneath sinks for any leaks or wetness

Test the boiler, radiators and central heating

Test switches and wiring around key features, like the cooker

Test hobs, cookers and fireplaces

Check the windows and doors are all working properly with the right locks. Can they open and close smoothly? Check for condensation and any signs of break-ins

Check your phone’s signal to make sure it’s not a mobile-dead zone

Try to visit during sunny evenings to see how long your garden gets the sun for. Identify any major shade spots and check how much natural lighting you get in each room. South-facing gardens are usually a popular choice when house hunting

Do as many viewings as you can with a thorough checklist. Use a surveyor to investigate any hidden dangers or issues, so you know exactly what you’re going to be investing in.

Check the outside and accessibility

We can often get carried away if a property is brilliant on the inside and forget about the outside. Make sure to do your outdoor checks as well as the indoor ones, such as looking out for guttering, drainage and damaged bricks and roof tiles. How is the garden when it rains? Does water build up? Is there a flood risk if the house is on a bank? How accessible is the back area, especially for waste collection? For instance, some areas have poor, muddy back areas with no maintenance so homeowners have to wheel their bins across muddy, unkempt grass all the way to the end of the row of houses.

Be sure to check garage doors and their ease of access. Is it rusty and noisy when opening, and is it in good working order? Or does it seem like it’s going to break pretty soon? Would you like to have access to the garage from inside the home? Is there enough space for a car and other items to be stored in the garage, such as a bike or extra freezer?

If there isn’t a garage, cars having to be parked on the pavements could increase the likelihood of damage or theft - especially if they’re luxurious vehicles. Think about what you’re willing to compromise on, as this is going to be your forever home. If you do have to park outside, consider an outdoor security camera that can operate in all weather conditions.

Check the neighbourhood and area before you make an offer

Before you make your offer, check out the neighbourhood and visit at different times of the day. It might not be until later at night when you hear that the neighbours like to crank up the music. Estate agents aren’t always going to know about neighbours, so knock on some houses on either side of the property to get their insight on the area and neighbours.

Find out as much as you can about the area, local amenities and the crime rate. Try this handy Crime in the UK tool to view the crime rates around certain areas of the UK by postcode.

House auctions

Another way to buy a dream home is by going to an auction. You can often find properties that are cheaper than market value at an auction, but do be cautious before having that contract-binding hammer slam down.

Use the help of a solicitor to inspect an auction pack, as you don’t want to be hit with nasty, expensive legal issues down the line, turning it from a bargain buy into a costly one. Also, properties sold at auction do tend to need renovating, so you just need to weigh out the costs of repairs/renovations against dearer properties on the market, as you don’t want to end up paying more by misleading deals.

Go to a few different auctions first to understand how they work and visit properties to do your checks, with surveys carried out. You also need to have your finance in place before bidding on house auctions.

Home security

The ideal property comes with home security measures already in place, but chances are this won’t be the case. If you’re lucky enough to find a home with driveway gates installed, check they are in working order. Upgrading or installing home security in a new home doesn’t need to be a lengthy, difficult process. With a SimpliSafe home security system, you can set it up in minutes with no wires! That also means, if you’ve already got a smart system like this, you can simply take it with you to your new dream home with no money wasted.

Speak to our friendly, expert team to see what smart home security system will be perfect for your new dream home - contact us here.