A SAM Conveyancing client inspects a home to buy. House Hunting Tips From SAM Conveyancing
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House Hunting Tips

(Last Updated: 18/09/2023)
11 min read
Key Takeaways

House hunting is an exciting time! You're ready to move on to the next chapter of your life and start visualising yourself in a new space. In the ever-evolving housing market of 2023, you've got fluctuating prices, changing trends and unpredictable mortgage rates to contend with, so finding your dream home takes extra planning and strategy.

In this article, we'll give our top insider tips to prepare for house hunting, during the hunt, and for what to do once you've found your ideal home.

House hunting tips to get prepared


    Get Mortgage in Principle (MIP)

This is a preliminary (non-binding) agreement from your lender, which gives a rough idea of what you can borrow to buy. It will enable you to budget for buying a property and sellers won't take your offer seriously without one unless you're a cash buyer.


    Set a realistic budget

Your MIP is going to help with this, but you need to make sure you factor in the other expenses, including SDLT, conveyancing fees, disbursements, surveys, removals, insurance, redecorating/furnishing costs etc. Don't shop at the limit of your budget, you'll need some buffer funds for inevitable unforeseen expenses.


    Include properties 5-10% over budget in your search

You may find an overpriced property which you can negotiate down to meet your price bracket, especially in a difficult market. In September it was reported that more than 36 per cent of properties for sale have had their asking price reduced at least once, which is the highest level since January 2011.


    Work out your priorities

Before you start looking, you need to decide what your 'dealbreakers' are and what you're willing to compromise on. For example, can you live without a garden? Do you need to be within walking distance of a gym, supermarket, school, or a major train station? Do you need to prioritise off-road parking, a granny annexe, or quality of light?


    Register your interest with multiple agents

Monitor the market in the areas you're interested in and be aware of how quickly they're moving. Register your interest with multiple estate agents and call round regularly to make sure you're at the top of their minds when an interesting property becomes available. This means you can find out up to two weeks before a property is listed online.


    Instruct your solicitor

While you don't have to have a solicitor until your offer is accepted, having one instructed and ready to go when you are can make all the difference when your sellers want to move fast. Compare reviews and quotes and consider having a solicitor ready to get the transaction underway immediately, especially if you are a first time buyer and not bound by an onward chain.

House hunting tips for choosing viewings


    Prioritise location

Your neighbourhood is likely to be more important to you than the property itself. Choose locations which tick your boxes as you're likely to end up unhappy in a good house that's in a bad location. You want to visit at different times of day to get a feel for the early morning traffic, the daytime hustle and bustle & the late-night noise complaints. Check out the local high street and ask yourself if you could be happy here.


    Open your mind to potential

Most homebuyers make changes when they move in. Try and look past the seller's décor if not to your taste, or the poorly selected bedding plants in the front garden. Focus on 'good bones', imagine the house stripped back of its cosmetic idiosyncrasies and embellished with your own, superior style. Take particular note of attics, basements or outbuildings ripe for conversion which may increase the value of your investment and give you room to grow.


    Attend viewings

Walking through the house in person is the best way to get a sense of space, light and 'vibe'. It also presents a wonderful opportunity to ask the seller or the agent questions, which will help you decide on an offer, for example:
  • How long has the house been on the market?
  • How many viewings/offers has it had?
  • When was it last rewired/When was the boiler last replaced?
  • Why are the owners moving? How quickly do they want to sell? Is there a chain?
  • Are there any problems with subsidence? damp? neighbours?

    Factor in hidden costs

Keep an eye out for things that will add to your costs. Much of this will be revealed in a home survey, but if you have a savvy eye, you may be able to pre-empt some of these and factor them into your initial offer. For example:
  • Is there moisture between the panes of glass in the double glazing? Heating costs will be higher until someone reglazes the windows
  • Is there a draft around chimneys, doors or skirting? This may indicate poor insulation and higher heating costs or remedial costs
  • Is the house finished in high maintenance materials? You may be saddled with expensive ongoing upkeep

House hunting tips for when you find the perfect property


    Be realistic about maintenance

The white lino in the kitchen and the manicured walkway through the garden might look appealing now, but is this house going to be too demanding on your time? Don't waste your money on assets you can't realistically upkeep.


    Make a winning offer

When the hunt is almost over and you're preparing for the pounce, be sure to read our article on How to make a winning offer.


    Don't skip the survey and searches

As soon as your offer is accepted, you can order your survey and searches. However, it's best to hold off until the whole chain is in place, so as not to waste money on a survey while there's still a good chance for the transaction to fall through (particularly on larger chains). If you choose us to handle your conveyancing, your SAM Conveyancing executive will monitor the progress of your purchase and prompt you when it's time to get these underway.


    Don't stop looking until you exchange on your property.

Anything can happen along the way so keep your eyes peeled in case a better property comes up. Plus, if you lose your first choice, it helps to have a fall back ready to go.

Frequently Asked Questions
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Written by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Reviewed by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.

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