Finding the best places to live
By Joe Elvin
Article 3 of 13
Finding the best places to live
It's worth doing your homework on an area before buying property there. Follow our top 10 tips on what to check, from planning applications to crime rates.
You could, after all, be living there for many years ahead. Of course, your property search, together with information the seller needs to provide, will turn up useful information once you start the process.
A bit of prior investigation on a property and its immediate area may unearth something you’d see as a ‘deal-breaker’ before you’re out of pocket – as once your offer is accepted, you could end up spending thousands organising a mortgage, legal work and a surveyor. Below the video we list our top-10 area checks.
- It's a good idea to get a mortgage agreement in principle early in the process. For expert advice on finding the right mortgage for you, call Which? Mortgage Advisers on 0808 252 7987.
Estate agents' insider tips: how to choose the best property
Which? interviewed a range of experienced estate agents and asked for their insider tips on buying property. In this short video, they explain what you should check about a neighbourhood, as well as the house itself, before making your offer.
How to investigate your neighbourhood
Moving house is expensive, so the more thorough the checks you make on the area you’ve pinpointed, the more likely you are to find somewhere you love and don’t want to leave – which could save you thousands of pounds in the future. Here are the top-10 things to investigate:
1. Local authority planning
Is the local authority planning any changes to your area that could adversely or positively affect your home? Check out its website under housing, community or growth.
2. School catchment areas
If you have children, the local schools and which ones feed in to each other are of crucial importance. Ask schools about their catchment area, bearing in mind some have boundaries that change from one year to the next, and also look at the local authority website to see the distances within which children got into individual schools the previous year.
3. Crime rates
How do crime rates compare with those in other areas? Visit Police.uk to search for crime maps by postcode and find performance data for the relevant police force.
4. Flood risks
Is there a river nearby? It may not have flooded for years, but talk to locals who have lived there a long time to tell you whether the road or property you are considering has, or could be, flooded.
5. Electric pylons
Pylons and electrical substations close to the property can put people off buying, so check with local agents if they have an impact on the price or time it takes to sell a property.
6. School runs
Are you within walking distance of school or college? Visit the property at drop-off and pick-up times to check how it impacts traffic.
7. Transport links
Good transport links are a boon, but nobody wants passengers on a double-decker bus looking into their bedroom every morning, or to be kept awake by road or rail traffic at all hours.
Being downwind of sewage works, or having hordes of tourists passing your front window during the holiday season, can turn an idyllic location into an ordeal. Try to uncover factors, good and bad, that affect your environment.
Nightmare neighbours caused over 500,000 complaints in 2013. Top hates were noise, animals and household disrepair. If you can, spend time getting to know your new neighbours on the road you plan to move to before you make an offer. It's also worth checking with the council to see if there have been any complaints.
10. Local medical services
Whatever your age, it's important to consider how well your local medical services will perform in case you become ill, especially if you suffer from a long-term illness. If you have an NHS dentist, find out whether you can register with another one when you move.
Buying and selling a house: Sarah's story
Retiree Sarah speaks about the culture shock of moving from a town to a rural location when downsizing. She admits she was taken by surprise by some elements of rural living, which she only found out about after moving in.