Are you looking to buy a property but you are not sure where yet? For this week’s Top Tip Tuesday, we will be giving you all the information you need to know about finding the right area to suit your needs.
Buying a property is a big deal, and not just financially.
The area you move to will become as familiar to you as your close friends and family. So it is important to choose the right spot.
You may know exactly where you want to buy, perhaps even down to the exact house on the exact street. But it is always good to keep your options open, especially in the current climate.
One area might be great for your craft beer pubs but has limited green space. The other might be close to friends, but too far from good transport links.
So how do you research an area before buying a house – and know if you are buying in a good area for you?
Here is how to make sure you find the right neighbourhood to suit your needs.
Visit the area at different times of day
Go there for your viewing. And then go again. Trust the property experts, nothing beats visiting a neighbourhood at different times of day.
Arrive on different days of the week and weekends to get a real feel for what it is like there.
What is it like on a Friday or Saturday evening? What are traffic levels like at peak times? How reliable are the transport links you might need to depend on?
Do not be shy. Talk to the neighbours if you can. Knock on doors. Most people are happy to have a chat, especially if you could be potential neighbours.
Find out if crime is an issue
You can get detailed crime statistics for a particular area from your local police force. Simply visit police.uk and type in the postcode or the local authority.
It is also a good idea to buy the local paper or see if there are online news outlets. Social media is also a great tool which can provide great opportunities to join local groups and learn their concerns and interests.
Another thing to think about is if you live in an area with a high rate of burglaries, you may face higher insurance premiums.
Research nearby schools
If you have children or plan to have them in future, do your homework (no pun intended) on the local primary and secondary schools.
As well as seeing what kind of education they provide, you will need to find out whether the property you are planning to buy is in the all-important ‘catchment area’.
As boundaries can change from year to year, you may need to contact schools directly to get the most up-to-date information.
Many property portals at the moment show the distance between your potential home and local schools. You can even look at the local authority’s website too.
Check the local amenities
If there are shops, banks, pubs and restaurants within walking distance of the property you are hoping to move to, check them out.
Go for a meal, buy your essentials and chat to anyone you meet along the way.
You might also want to be near a church, temple, mosque or other place of worship. What about a library, cinema or theatre?
Find out all you can about sports facilities, leisure centres, parks and open spaces by researching online.
If you are a gym bunny, see if there is a gym you can walk or cycle to.
All these things are important aspects to consider, as if they are too far out of your way it may cause disruptions to your regular routine or could make your life a little easier!
Get the lowdown on GPs and dentist surgeries
When you move to a new area you will want to register with a doctor and a dentist.
An online search will be a good place to find information and reviews of these services.
As mentioned before, joining a local social media group may be a good way of getting recommendations from other locals who know the area better.
Try out transport connections
Find out how long it takes to walk, cycle or even drive to the nearest station. If this is going to be your daily commute, you need to ensure it is achievable.
If parking on the street is possible, are there any restrictions or charges? Can you get a weekly or monthly parking permit at a cheaper rate?
Find the closest bus stops, tram stops and other transport links. How frequently do trains and buses run?
Work out how much everything is going to cost too. You may even want to do a trial run to your place of work to find out how long the journey will take.
Check local authority planning and Council Tax
It is worth finding out whether there are any planned changes to the area that could affect your decision.
For example, a new shopping centre or better transport links could be a real positive.
But a new industrial project or major road works could be a big no-no. Your best bet is to check out your local authority’s website.
If you are in the process of buying, the local searches carried out by your solicitor should uncover anything serious.
However, there is no harm in having a look while choosing your preferred location.
The local authority will also have details about any upcoming Council Tax charges too, which might be a huge factor on how much you would ideally want to spend each month on bills.
Flooding, air pollution and traffic
You may also be keen to know if the property you are looking for is at risk from flooding.
The Environmental Agency’s website has the information based on postcodes.
It is also worth checking data on air quality and pollution, and seeing if the property is located close to a landfill site.
You may also want to check what the area is like at the busiest times of day to see how bad the traffic is.
You do not want to end up stuck in a traffic jam every time you leave home. Busy traffic could also mean a lot of noise and pollution too.
Look for signs of an up-and-coming area
Moving into an area ‘on the up’ might be something that appeals to you.
Chances are you can bag more home for your money and you can help be part of the regeneration.
From a financial perspective, you might end up with a decent return, too.
Signs an area is on the up include:
- Lots of home improvement going on, with skips or scaffolding outside homes.
- A high proportion of independent retailers and cared-for shops.
- New estate agencies opening up.
- New transport links or infrastructure projects.
- A high proportion of people in their twenties or thirties living there.
Check past property prices
Do your research and try to find out the value of any property in that area, together with information on when it previously sold and how much for.
There are plenty of house prices tools out there to help you find out the house prices on any given street.
And for a broader view of what is happening in the housing market, have a read of House Price Index’s. You can find these on various property portal websites.
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Established since 1989, Boxall Brown & Jones are an independent firm of Chartered Valuation Surveyors and Estate Agents offering the very highest standards in residential property sales, lettings and surveying. With a forward looking approach, we will help you get on the move in a quick and stress-free manner.