Finding the perfect home isn’t easy but taking the right steps can make the process less painless and more hassle free. Before you start searching it is very helpful to have a clear idea of what you need in a new home and what you would ideally like in a new home. Making two lists of these, ideally in priority order, will help not only when it comes to searching property websites but also when you are weighing up the pros and cons of properties on your shortlist.
Identify your needs
Different things are important to different people and you may never have thought in detail about where your priorities lie. Taking the time to sit down and work out what you need and where these needs rank will help when it comes to searching and short listing. Your priority list might look a bit like this:
- Location – I want to live in the town centre
- Local amenities – I need a park within 15 minutes’ walk and a late night convenience store that doesn’t close before 11pm.
- Room sizes – I don’t mind a small kitchen but need a living room that is comfortable for more than 4 people to use regularly
- Tenant permissions – I’d like to be allowed guests to stay for more than 5 days at a time
- Storage space – I’d like to be able to keep my bike inside but tucked away
- Travel links – I don’t want to be travelling more than 30 minutes on public transport to work.
Don’t rely on agents
There are growing opportunities for peer-to-peer tenancies, many of which come with the same level of professionalism and protection for both tenant and landlord. This will both expand the opportunities available to you and potentially save you a significant amount on fees and monthly rental.
The important thing to remember is that you need to protect your rights going into any tenancy agreement. If you’re going through a landlord, don’t assume you shouldn’t have your agreement checked by a second party any more than you may assume that a private contract would be less official. Notice periods, building maintenance responsibilities and deposit protection are some of the essential parts of an agreement and you should make sure you are comfortable with the protections afforded you in each. If you don’t have someone you can ask to check an agreement for you, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau – as well as other online sources – will be able to guide you through checking an agreement before signing.
If you don’t ask
Many tenants wrongly believe that unlike purchasing, rental prices are non-negotiable. If you are making compromises on your wish list or if the property has been on the market for a while, there is a good chance that you will be able to negotiate a reduced rate on the monthly rent. The likelihood and range of this will vary between housing markets but if you don’t ask, you wont get.
Much like with buying, the housing rental market has peak and off peak seasons. Long public holidays, seasons and the presence of local school catchment areas are some of the many factors that affect when demand for tenancies are high and low. If you have the flexibility to work outside of high demand times then you will benefit both from a wider choice of property/reduced competition and more competitive prices. But whatever the market you are searching in or timeframes you are working to, if you have a clear plan and are willing to put the time in then your perfect home is just around the corner.