Location, location, location: What to look for when buying a home

Finding the home of your dreams is about more than just the four walls you live in; it’s about where you live as well.

No doubt you’ve heard the importance of ‘location, location, location’ before, but are you confident you really know what you should be looking for?

To help, we’ve compiled a list of things you may want to consider when viewing and, ultimately, buying a property.

1.Proximity to shops, entertainment and/or nightlife

I’m sure many of you will know the agony of going to make a cuppa and realising there’s no milk. Now, imagine how bad this would feel if you had to go miles to get to your nearest local store! That’s why it’s important when you’re viewing properties to check out the location to see how far it is to the shops. Can you walk there or do you need a car?

If entertainment and nightlife is important to you, then you’ll also want to look and see what restaurants, bars, cinemas, gyms etc are in the area. It might be worth checking review sites to see if they’re any good too.

Top tip: Think carefully about how close to entertainment you want to be. Popular sites often come with noise and traffic.

2.Schools

If you’ve got kids now or might have them in the future, you should research what schools there are in the area and what they’re like. Some online property sites display this information next to the property listing, but if not, league tables are publicly available and sites like SchoolGuide.co.uk contain parent reviews.

3.Access to transport links

Even if the idea of living out in the sticks appeals to you, there are times when you’ll still need to be connected, whether that’s to get to work or use local amenities. Check where your nearest bus stop is, where the bus goes and how often it comes. You should also do the same with train stations.

If you drive, see how quickly you can get onto key roads, such as the motorway. It’s also worth looking to see if you can get an idea of traffic density.

Top tip: If you get your shopping delivered, make sure your store of choice delivers to your area. You might also want to see if there are any taxi services you can use.

4.Access other public amenities, such as places of worship, parks and hospitals

This might not be an important one for everyone but it will pay to check all the same, especially when it comes to hospitals, doctors and dentists. We all know how important healthcare is and if your nearest doctor is miles away, it might not be the idea situation for you.

5.Crime

Looks can be deceiving and just because an area looks lovely, there is no guarantee that it’s also safe. Check local crime rates go see how common it is and which crimes are the most prevalent. It’s also work speaking to the vendor and your would-be neighbours to learn what their experiences have been and if they feel safe.

6.Neighbours

‘Everybody needs good neighbours’ – never a truer phrase spoken (or sang). There’s nothing worse than living next door to people who are loud, unfriendly, untidy or unreasonable.

When you view a house, ask the vendor about what the neighbours are like. You might feel like you’re prying, but at the end of the day, it’s you who’ll be stuck with them if they turn out to be awful.

7.Planned local development

While some local developments, such as new housing, will show up in searches done during the house purchase process, not everything will.  New developments can cause disruption, result in additional traffic, contribute to house price declines and even spoil the view you have from your house.

Knowing about these before you put an offer in on a property can help prevent a lot of disappointment later down the line. You can search the registry of planning decisions here.

8.House price trends

Buying in an area where house prices are declining might be ideal when you’re the one making a purchase, but not when you’re looking to sell. In fact, if the trend continues, you could end up in a negative equity situation.

To make sure your investment is a sound one, look at property prices in the area over time, to see how they rise and fall. Pay specific attention to how far they drop down when the market declines.

9.Utilities

Utilities are something you probably don’t think you need to deal with until you’re in your house but in actual fact you need to check them before you move in. This is because if you’re not careful, you could end up living somewhere with poor broadband and/or access to competitive market deals.

Top tip: You can see broadband speed based on postcode here. You can also compare energy, broadband, tv and phone deals for your area as part of your Noddle account.

10.Building restrictions

When you move into your property, you might find there are restrictions about what you can and can’t do because it’s a listed building or in a conservation area. If you absolutely love the property as it is, then this won’t cause too much of a problem but if you want to do significant refurbishments or extend, either now or in the future, this might be a real issue.

It’s always best to find this stuff out sooner rather than later, so don’t be afraid to ask the estate agent or vendor what the situation is.

Location and property must go hand-in-hand

As you can hopefully tell from everything listed above, location really is a crucial thing to consider during your house search. In fact, it’s a huge part of making a house a home.

The good news is that it’s not difficult to find the information you need to make a smart decision. There’s even Checkmystreet, which makes it easy to look at some of the key data about your area.

Ultimately, it’s about doing your due diligence so you can be confident that you’ve made the right choice when signing on the dotted line for your new home.