It’s fair to say that recent national and international events have taken their toll on the property market, from Brexit to a pandemic, and sadly even war we have seen economic changes in the last couple of years that we haven’t in a long time, arguably ever. But regardless of your opinion on any of these matters and how our own government or world leaders have behaved there will be one thing that we all need and will affect us all - our home.. Regardless of whether you rent or have bought your home you will have seen changes in cost, charges and availability of property.
So, with your money not getting you what it might have done previously how can you tweak your property search to ensure you are getting as much home for your money as you can?
Your first point of call would be location - is the area you have been looking in more expensive? Write a list of reasons for this being you preferred area. Often when laid out, these reasons aren’t actually a priority for your move, and you could look at surrounding towns that may add just a short distance or time to your daily commute but save you thousands because of the postcode. If you don’t commute by train simple changes like looking at towns that don’t have a mainline station can mean the difference between a three-bedroom and a two-bedroom.
Can you see into the future?
You don’t necessarily have to pay for the additional living space now (stick with me, it will all make sense I promise). When you are viewing properties, look at where you could add space at a later date. I know it sounds odd for someone that makes a living based on people selling their houses, but it is usually cheaper to build space than buy it, and it could be considerably cheaper for you to buy a two bedroom with one reception room that you could add a two-storey side extension to later, giving you a second reception room and bedroom. Look at loft space and garden size, check out what neighbouring properties have done and have a little look on the local council sites to see what planning permissions might be needed and what has been applied for in the area. This will really give you an idea of what you might be able to do with the property in the future.
This is probably the average viewers first go to - look at a property that needs renovating - but the key here is not to bite off more than you can chew. Look at what skills you or friends and family have that you could make the most of. Paying a tradesperson to complete a project can be expensive and you can end up paying more in the long run than you would have paid for a property of the same size that didn’t need the work, and you wouldn’t have had to live on a building site. If you work in a particular trade, say carpentry, look at properties that require a new kitchen, if your sibling is an electrician look for properties that may need a rewire as part of their refurbishment. Get quotes and work out beforehand how much the project will cost you to make sure it is worth doing for you. Create and budget, stick to it as much as possible, and ALWAYS have a contingency fund.
Due to various government schemes over the years a lot of local authority or council-owned homes were bought by their long-term residents. As such, these often come up for sale at a reduced price compared to their comparable counterparts. Ex-local authority homes tend to be more spacious, have larger gardens, and are situated in central locations close to schools, shops and parks. This is a good way of affording a larger property, in a great location.
There are also many government schemes you might want to investigate, although most are specifically for first time buyers. The shared ownership scheme, for example, might work well if you are renting. Rather than all your money going on rent you will be putting money towards owning a percentage, which is likely to increase in value, and giving yourself equity in a property. It can also solve a property size problem - if you can afford with deposit and mortgage to own 100% of a two-bedroom flat priced at £200,000, but you need a bigger property for your family, you could purchase 50% of a three or four-bedroom valued at £400,000.
There of course things to be wary of - you will pay rent on the percentage of the property you don’t own, and the property will be leasehold which has additional costs and work involved. With any scheme or mortgage deal I would always recommend doing your homework, and there are lots of forums online where you can interact with others that have used the schemes so get a first-hand account as well as a speaking to the professionals. Some schemes are only available on newbuild properties, which again as well as the benefits of the scheme you need to look into the pitfalls as you often pay a premium for a newbuild, so if you are only putting down a small deposit it can be the case that you won’t get that back out of the property if you are only planning to live there for a short time.
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