As a little follow up to our How to Buy a House post, we just wanted to go into a little more detail about the point of location. We had a vague idea of where we wanted to move to, but there were a few factors that we hadn’t even really thought of before we started to look for our house which we soon realised were an issue. We knew that we wanted to move somewhere between our hometown, and the town where Betty works – we were familiar with different areas along what is essentially a six-mile-long main road to a point, and our little area was in what’s widely regarded as a ‘good’ area so that’s where we began our search. It’s not that we weren’t willing to look outside our comfort zone, but it was a nice start, somewhere that we knew, somewhere familiar.
- Priorities – What are you priorities? Are you moving away from your family home because “it’s just time”? Because you need more space? We really wanted to move because we didn’t really get enough time to ourselves at home, we knew that we wanted to be together and it seemed like a good time to buy – we had the time to save up the deposit that we wanted, and house prices are fairly low at the moment, interest rates are reasonable (although set to go up next year, apparently) so it made sense to get on the property ladder sooner rather than later.
- Budget was obviously a huge factor – although we had all the time in the world to save up for a deposit, our salaries would put a restriction on how much we could afford to pay per month. We worked out that we had a budget that would just about stretch to £90,000 for our house, although any lower would have been a massive bonus. Bearing this in mind, we looked at the prices in our hometown – £90,000 would have got us a reasonably-sized flat, which is something that we were a little nervous of – flats sell well to first time buyers, but we realised that the space would soon become an issue, and with the market the way that it is now (and is likely to continue for a little while) we were apprehensive about the prospect of re-selling the property. We started looking a little further afield, further along the six-mile route that we’d originally set out on, to see what our options were.
- Budget, again was an issue – we weren’t afraid of getting our hands dirty, we did really expect to have to do work on whatever property we invested in, but whether or not we’d have the money to do that was another thing. These days, banks are unlikely to lend you extra money for home improvements and renovation – we had to assess with each house that we saw what work we were likely to be able to do ourselves (or pull favours on) and what work would require further labour costs, and whether we could afford it. Some of the houses we saw required cosmetic work, some of the houses that we saw needed a whole new central-heating system, a new damp course, one of the houses that we saw had a hole from the kitchen ceiling through to the bathroom.
- Travel was a huge issue for us – Betty doesn’t drive (yet! She passed her Theory test last month!) so we needed somewhere with good access to bus routes – or somewhere within walking distance of her workplace. The majority of houses that we saw were along the main road of our six-mile route, but one or two as we found out would have required a half-hour walk to even get to a bus stop. When you start work so early in the morning, that’s a real issue. Similarly, we didn’t want to move too much further, as Jack has petrol costs to pay – and the daily wear and tear on his car would be much more than it is from his family’s house (Jack’s old house is literally a two-minute drive, ten-minute walk from his work)