The Sunday Times recently published its 7th Best Places to Live, a study based on a range of criteria from price and crime levels, to schools, transport and community spirit, as well as ideal retirement locations.This year’s report, the first time, includes air quality and internet speeds, reflecting on two key concerns in cities and rural locations.
This report serves as a timely reminder of how important it is to be sure of your own priorities as you research the best options for your lifestyle when buying a home, both at the time of purchase and into the future.
People nowadays move much less frequently than a decade or so ago, so being within walking distance of bars and restaurants may be less important if you have children, when proximity to the best schools and open spaces would be preferable, or open space and parks for dogs or gardens for cats might be considered where you may have future plans to have pets, which may not have seemed a necessary consideration previously.
Then there are other decisions to make, like do you want/need a flat or a house? Would an older property or a new build suit your plans better? Do you need a garden and parking space, are you planning to extend your family or household? Which would suit you best, a leasehold or freehold?
The Best Places to Live report identifies that housing costs can vary significantly for similar properties just a mile or two apart, based on a number of factors as discussed above
For many, securing property on new development is the easiest option. You get what you see, usually in pristine condition, although this can mean paying a ‘premium’ when comparing prices with similar, more established accommodation within the vicinity. New properties carry a 10-year warranty, so if any problems arise with brand new properties, the developer is required to respond and carry out any works without further payment. Unfortunately, recent cases have highlighted shortcomings in construction and finish by some developers, so it can be worth talking to homeowners on the site before making any commitment, and doing your research before purchasing new property to ensure you’re happy with the service and what to expect
Achieving best value, including on eventual resale, can sometimes mean taking risks by exploring opportunities in less popular areas. If you spot works going on down a certain road, it’s often worth stopping to chat to the workforce to find out what works they are doing, sometimes they will even let you take a closer look at what they’re up to. Alternatively, you can often find this information online if you take note of the developer and the area you’re in. If you like what you see, make a note of the contractor’s details – local authorities can usually point you to appropriate websites to verify quality and reliability, as well as advise on any Planning Consents which may be required if you decide to purchase nearby.
But, however competitively priced a neglected property may appear to be, avoid taking on a project without a full survey and a detailed, costed, works programme, preferably taking an architect’s advice. If it’s hard to do a full survey and costings report, it’s worth checking out the properties in person as much as possible for a good idea of how the project is likely to go and whether you’re likely to be able to carry out the work comfortably. If works are relatively superficial, rather than essential, such as replacing old fashioned bathrooms and kitchens, it can help to live in the property for at least six months, so you understand how you use the space – inevitably, initial ideas will change, often becoming more ambitious, which can mean planning improvements over a few years. Sometimes, having done their research, buyers discover that their original planned purchase budget is insufficient to secure the right property to meet ambitions. This can mean either delaying a purchase to save more or lowering expectations of what you can realistically afford in that area.
It is always worth seeking guidance from the specialist mortgage advisors at your local Mortgage Centre, who will aid you in making the right decision on what to purchase from the outset, by analysing your personal financial circumstances, and the best mortgage options to suit your short and medium-term plans and providing detailed explanations of the benefits or otherwise of what is available. For example, it may be possible to allow for budget for some refurbishment or renovation within the mortgage arrangements.
The team at The Mortgage Centre will also help with budget planning, to include stamp duty, insurance and allowances for removal expenses as well as surveying and legal fees. Our specialists will keep in touch and let you know about new initiatives and when fixed-term arrangements need reviewing.
Want to know more? Get in touch with your local Mortgage Centre today.