My First Property

Deciding On Your Property 'Must Haves'

Unless you are cash rich, which is unlikely as a first-time buyer, then you are sure to need to compromise when buying your first home. This can be tricky, because you are still parting with a huge amount of money, and so naturally want everything to be perfect, whilst realising at the same time that to get literally perfect you would need another £100,000-£200,000 on your existing budget, even if your current budget is healthy. Such is the nature of the housing market, particularly after so many years of rising prices.

Therefore there is a balancing act to be struck. The best thing to do, in terms of working out what you can and cannot compromise on, is to do the following:

1) Write a list of everything that you would like your ideal property to exhibit. This could be a whole range of things, such as:

- It must be within 10 minutes of the train station I commute to London from
- It must have a garden
- It must have x bedrooms
- The lounge must be at least n x n feet
- It must have off-road parking

Of course, your list will be very different, and probably longer.

2) Now, notice the fact that we've written the word 'must' at the start of each sentence. You might do the same. But the purpose of this exercise is now to examine it again and realise that you have to prioritise elements, even if you have written 'must' next to them: there are some things we need and some things we want, and part 2 of the exercise is teasing out which is which.

The easiest way to do this is to go through and rank your list - with 1 as the most important, and the lowest number being least important.

If you are buying as a couple, then this can be quite instructive too - as you may at this stage realise different priorities, where you can take and leave the garden for instance, but it is an absolute must for your partner. So try to rank jointly, as much as possible.

Once the process is done, you now need to agree between you how far down the list every property must go in order to be one you are prepared to offer on. Many people settle on the top three being absolutely non-negotiable, and then the more of the other boxes a property ticks, the better.

3) Viewings! With the list in mind, rate each property on your must haves and would-like-to-haves, and how close it gets to the ones it doesn't quite meet. Obviously, the more properties you view the better the picture you can get of how close to what you really want you might be able to get, so this real world information as to how high your expectations can be - at your given price bracket - can also be invaluable.

After you have viewed several properties, if you haven't found the one for you, then reassess your list: are your priorities all the same, and do you feel you can actually get more / less for your money than you initially thought? Adjust your list, and view further properties in that light. Until, eventually, you find a property that ticks enough boxes and you are still excited about living in... and then the fun really begins!

Last update: 25 Mar 2015

More first-time house buying articles:

  1. Learning From Buying Your First Home
  2. What Is Freehold Property?
  3. Finding the Perfect Home
  4. Viewing a Property in London
  5. Why Buying in London is Different to Elsewhere


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