Finding a new home in lockdown
It might be easy to think that the housing market has ground to a halt during the lockdown, but that is far from the case.
In recent weeks we have had a steady stream of enquiries, plus reservations and exchanges.
We are seeing that many people are using their time at home to look for their new home. Also, the number of houses on the market has remained stable throughout this period. Perhaps they just have the time to start the search in earnest? Perhaps spending all that time at home has made them realise how much they need more space? Or, perhaps buyers are hoping to take advantage of the low interest rates?
Whatever the cause, there are steps that you can take to find your dream new home without even leaving your current one.
Work out what you want
Need a garden? Suddenly realised that a home office is essential? Decided that a garage for storage is indispensable? Has the lockdown realised your love of DIY, meaning you want a fixer-upper? Or, has it made you realise that you hate DIY and so you want to move into a new home with no work required?
Write a list of non-negotiables. These are not things that would be quite nice to have, these are the things that you cannot live without. This will help you to narrow your online search.
Decide on a budget
We all love searching for unobtainable, dream homes on RightMove. However, if you are serious about finding a new home, now is the time to stop.
Now is the time to work out exactly what you can afford. Find an affordability calculator online to determine the home loan amount that you would qualify for. However, the best way to know the amount you can borrow is to speak to a mortgage advisor or your bank.
Most reputable sales agents can recommend a mortgage advisor to give you free, independent advice. It is worth noting that a mortgage ‘decision in principle’ is valid for 90 days. This means that you can get the current low interest rates locked down for the next three months.
If you have a house to sell, now is a good time to talk to a sales agent to get a valuation. Whilst they will not be able to visit your home currently to conduct the valuation, many agents have adapted to the current situation and will be able to conduct video call valuations.
Work out the perfect location
Town, city, village or rural? What distance commute are you willing to do? Which school catchment areas do you want to be in? Do you want to be able to walk to amenities or maybe you do not mind getting in the car? Need to be close to public transport? How close to (or far from) family do you want to be?
Ask all these questions and spend some time on Google Maps to identify the area in which you want to conduct your search. RightMove has a great feature where you can mark the search areas precisely.
Set up alerts
On whichever property portal you use, set up alerts so you are notified when new properties come on the market. It is also a good idea to contact some local sales agents to let them know what you are looking for and where. They will often contact you before or as soon as it comes on the market.
Learn how to read a floor plan
Most floor plans in property particulars have approximate dimensions. If they do not, speak to the sales agent to see if they can give you further details.
Get the tape measure out and work out the dimensions of your house and garden. You can then make comparisons to get an idea for the space available. For example, the master bedroom in a house may be similar to the size of you living room. Get some string and mark out the size of your bed in that space, how does it compare?
Pay attention to where windows are and which way doors open. How does your furniture fit into this space if you are planning to take it all with you.
Most new homes have had a great deal of thought put into the usability of the space during the planning process. However, in older properties you may find that that lovely big landing you were planning to use as a home office space may not be usable as all the doors open into it.
Speak to sales agent
Sales agents have had to be creative during this time. Speak to them to see what further information they can offer you. If it is a new home, they may be able to give you a video tour of the show home or of the actual home at its current stage of construction. They may be able to direct you to information about previously completed developments so you can see the standard at which your house will be completed.
Choose a suitable conveyancer
Again, the sales agent will be able to point you towards someone who they recommend. When buying a new home, it may be a good idea to use the one they recommend. They will be familiar with the development and will be able to process the sale quickly and efficiently.
Even so, it is a good idea to do your research and get some quotes to ensure that you’re getting a good deal. Do not just decide based on price though. In the current climate, choosing a conveyancer who has a team of people to support exchange and completion and who has adapted well to working from home will be worth paying a little extra for.
Taking the plunge
If you are not willing to make an offer without seeing the property in person, that’s completely understandable. Make sure you register your interest with the sales agent to make sure you are at the front of the queue when viewings are available again. Of course, this is risky as someone else may feel confident to make an offer and have it accepted. You can, of course, start the negotiations straight away.
If you are buying a new home (like our homes at Northdale Park in Raunds and The Stables in North Kilworth) you can reserve a property with a refundable reservation fee. This will get the wheels in motion without the worry.
If you are searching for your perfect new home, find out more information about our live developments here. Get in touch with Connells to see how they can support and progress your search and purchase.