Our top five tips to helping you find your first home
Navigating the property market can be tricky, especially when you're a first time buyer - here's our essential five-point guide.
1. LIST YOUR PRIORITIES
The first step when you are looking for a home should always be to sit down - with your partner, if that's who you'll be buying with - and make a list of what's important to you. Where exactly would you like to live? Is the age of the property important? Do you need to be near a school for the kids?
Know what parts of a home mean the most to you. Are you a baking enthusiast who needs the kitchen space to be just right? A sports fan who needs the living room to be their home entertainment centre? Do you need a home office? A playroom or a nice garden for the children? Thinking about these things in advance will make it a lot easier to dismiss certain properties straight off, and choose those you wish to investigate further.
Working directly with a real estate agent, especially a large and established company, can certainly make the search a lot simpler. Submit all your requirements to the estate agent in writing - that way, they will be very clear on your needs.
2. KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOURHOODS
Remember - homes don't exist by themselves. What the neighbourhood is like is a crucial consideration. Are you going to feel happy stepping outside your door every morning, as well as stepping back through it at night?
Even more fundamentally - where does your neighbourhood need to be, for you to meet all your life commitments? Decide whether you would be happy to move outside a city or town, if this suited your budget.
3. SET YOUR BUDGET
Knowing your budget is obviously a key factor. The online mortgage calculator at www.kbc.ie can help with this. You may want to look at homes currently a little above your budget, if you think the seller is likely to drop the price, or you can negotiate him or her down. However, it's best not to go looking too far outside your budget, even out of curiosity.
4. CONDUCT TOTAL RECONNAISSANCE
Set aside a day and view five or six properties at once, rather than view places ad hoc over a longer period. This way, several places will be fresh in your mind and it's easier to compare and contrast. If you can, visit properties on a weekday, when a seller or an agent may have more time to answer questions; the weekends are bound to be more crowded with viewings.
You should also visit more than once - and at different hours of the day. There can be a completely different atmosphere - not to mention noise level - in a neighbourhood at night.
Keep an eagle-eye eye out at every viewing for issues such as cracks, damp or mould. Check the light switches to make sure they work, and the doors, windows, drawers and closets, to make sure they all open and shut properly. The seller is under no obligation to tell you about any structural issues with the property, so you can save a lot in the long run by being vigilant at the outset.
Take your own pictures and videos of the property with your phone - when you have seen a lot of houses, this simple record-keeping will make recalling each property much easier. You may even spot something on film or in a photo that you didn't notice first time around.
5. LIFE IS CHANGE
Finally: think of the future. How long would you be planning to stay in this house? Is there the possibility you might renovate down the line if you have the finance? Is this the right place to bring up kids?
You might not be in this home forever, but it could be a while - knowing where the property fits in your life plan, is an essential element in making sure you're happy with whatever home you choose.