New Year – New home? This is often high up on many people’s New Year’s resolution list but if you are moving to a new area we recommend you invest in a good six to eight weeks of research before you start house hunting.
Follow Chiltern Relocation’s five-point plan in preparing for a new home in a new area.
1. Contrary to what you would expect avoid looking at search engines like Rightmove, Zoopla, Prime Location or the many other sites out there. They will be useful for comparison at the later stages but not during the first stages.
2. Get maps of the areas you are considering – preferably the old-fashioned fold-out map with towns and villages – so you can highlight, annotate make notes etc. If you need to commute, find a train map that is relevant – we have one here. Put commuting times against towns and villages on your map. Don’t forget to allow time to drive to station, park and the journey the other end. Also check with local forums/Twitter if there is adequate parking at the station of choice as this is often overlooked and can be a deal-breaker.
3. Shortlist town and village options. Break these down and allocate a few days driving around the locations and familiarise yourself with the areas. You need to get out and visit the coffee shops, pubs (link to our recommend pubs), shops see if you get a good feeling from the environment and surroundings. If there are notice boards have a look and see what is on offer? For example, if you plan to move to a rural location and get a dog are there dog walkers advertised? Horse riding lessons etc.
4. Once you have shortlisted areas look up the local websites for those towns or villages. For instance, link to Tylers Green website which will also give you a feel for the community.
5. Now it is time to hit the search engines. When looking for property options check the box for properties under offer as this will give you a broader understanding of what has been on offer over the last few months and what you can get for your money. Look up Land Registry to see what has sold for what prices in the area you are interested in.
Once you have narrowed down your location and researched some potential properties it is time to set up some viewings – we recommend at least 3/4 per area. Be careful not to dismiss options out of hand from property websites as seeing them in the flesh can be a very different experience. It is also beneficial to meet and speak to estate agents and vendors as it gives you lots of inside local information regarding schools, short cuts for commuting etc.
Vendors are very happy to chat about the benefits of their location! Making a face-to-face connection with the estate agents is also highly important. They are far more likely to remember you and your criteria when they are out valuing homes. Remember a large percentage of homes sell without reaching the search engines.
After investing in such thorough research your house hunting will be a far easier process and you will be confident with the options you are considering. Happy hunting!
We have many area guides in Bucks, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire below are a small sample: