- Start with choosing your area.
Your criteria might include having a good school nearby, local transport links and convenient shops or restaurants.
- Be clear on what you want.
House or flat? How many bedrooms? Being clear on your requirements will help you narrow your search and help estate agents be more specific
- Contact as many estate agents in your desired location as possible.
Ask them to send you details of suitable properties on their books on a regular basis.
- Keep records of the properties you have visited.
You’ll see a lot of properties in a short period of time, so keep notes of their good and bad points to make sure they are fulfilling your requirements.
- Get to know an estate agent more closely.
By calling once a week to reaffirm your interest, they’ll know you’re a serious buyer and ensure you get an early look at their best new properties.
- Stay competitive.
If you know that many people will be interested in the property and you are really keen on it, you might consider offering the asking price up front to avoid a ‘bidding’ war.
- Forget to consider the additional costs.
On top of mortgage payments, make sure you consider your utility bills, maintenance bills, Council Tax, any renovation work and other property bills.
- Be inflexible.
Be prepared to trade off one factor for another as you look around, e.g. you might be prepared to live in a cheaper area if that means having a garden.
- Keep a short-term view.
Your job might change and your friends might move, so don’t use these as a basis for making decisions about where to buy your long-term home.
- Neglect family matters.
If you’re starting a family, is there room for your family to grow? Are the local schools any good? Are there the right services for a young family? Is it a safe area?
- Immediately offer the asking price.
Most sellers inflate their price, so it is usual to offer up to 10% less than the asking price, especially if the property requires building work or redecoration.
- Assume an accepted offer is set in stone.
The acceptance of your offer is not legally binding until you and the seller exchange contracts. Watch out for gazumping, where a seller accepts an offer then takes a higher bid.