Does anyone else love browsing real estate listings, or is that just me? I can spend hours lost on real estate sites, imagining what life would be like if I moved to some of these fabulous places.
When I was finally ready to buy my own place with my husband a couple of years back, it was a dream come true. Finally all my browsing had some purpose!
But before I got too carried away with my home shopping, my husband and I made a list of a few key points. After all, there’s no point falling in love with a seemingly perfect home, only to have to strike it off your list because it doesn’t meet all your criteria.
Here are 3 key points to keep in mind when shopping for your dream home:
This is probably the most important thing to sort out before you start house shopping. How much mortgage can you afford? It can be extremely complicated to know how to approach this.
First things first, you’ll need a deposit, and the amount of your deposit will determine what mortgage rates you get. Although you can apply for a mortgage with as little as 5% deposit, if you can save 15% or even 25% of your dream house price, you will get a much better deal.
When thinking about how much mortgage you can afford to pay each month, you need to keep in mind that you’ll be paying interest as well as the actual capital (money borrowed) on the mortgage. In the beginning, depending on interest rates, this can be even more than the capital!
Interest rates are currently very low thanks to the recession caused by the pandemic. This might seem like a good thing, but consider that the rates will go up again – can you afford your mortgage if it increases? I recommend playing around with a mortgage calculator to see how this could affect your payments.
Also, although it’s tempting to put all of your savings into your deposit, don’t forget that you’ll need money for legal fees, surveyors and possibly stamp duty. Due to the events of 2020, stamp duty is currently suspended on the first £500,000 of your property value, but it’s something to consider if you’re buying a more expensive place.
You probably already have an idea of which area you want to live in, but it pays to get specific. Even within one small town, there are good areas and bad. Even one street to the next can have a very different vibe. It’s a good idea to visit your potential area on different days and different times of the day. Look out for issues such as noise and traffic problems.
You should also consider the proximity of amenities, shops and schools. Are you happy to drive everywhere, or do you need shops within walking distance?
Also think about your family (or future family!) lifestyle. We got really lucky with our house. We didn’t have children when we moved and didn’t think about how child friendly the area was at all. Luckily, after having our son we discovered a couple of lovely playgrounds in walking distance, and we are also near some fantastic schools. If we move again these things will be top of my list!
That said, I do recommend staying open to the idea of moving to a different area. There are many hidden gems around, and you don’t want to miss out on a dream home just because it happens to be somewhere you’ve never heard of. Just make sure to do your research first.
When we think about our dream home, it’s often easy to get caught up in imagining our dream life. We often think that when we move house, our entire life will change and we’ll become the person we always wanted to be! Well, of course our lives can change as the result of changing our space, but it’s also important to be realistic.
When looking for a new house, think about how you and your family really live. What is the most important room in your house? Do you love to spend time cooking and sitting down to eat together? Perhaps a large kitchen is a priority. Do you have very active kids? Your family might really benefit from a bigger garden, or at least proximity to local parks and playgrounds.
One new thing that many people have had to consider this year is a work at home space. Although some people have started going back to their offices now, many companies have decided to have their staff work from home permanently. Working from the kitchen table or a small desk shoved in your bedroom might have been ok for a few weeks during lockdown, but if it’s going to be a permanent feature of your life, you could really benefit from a designated work space. Even if a house with a separate home office is out of your price range, perhaps you need to look for somewhere with a space that can be repurposed, such as a dining room or conservatory.
What are your priorities?
As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when choosing your dream home. But if you take some time to brainstorm what’s really important to you before you start shopping, you’ll save a lot of time and heartache. Remember to discuss these things with your partner and family too, to make sure you’re on the same page.
What are your priorities when choosing a dream house?