Get your finances in order
Ideally have a mortgage pre-agreed before you start looking. Be realistic about what you can afford, remember to factor in stamp duty, legal fees, agent’s fees and removal costs. You will be in a much better position if you can say you are all ready to go financially.
If you have something to sell, have your house under offer before you start making offers on any house. You will only be taken seriously if you can proceed and it puts you in a much better negotiating position.
Know the area you want to move to well
It’s an expensive business and you don’t want to be moving again in a couple of years because you got it wrong. Be realistic about acceptable commuting times and the importance of proximity to a station. Know where the cut through roads are that are to be avoided. Research any proposed development plans in the area. Think about what facilities are important to how you live your life. Think about how isolated or otherwise you want to be.
For those with school aged children, find your school first
There are many excellent state and private schools in Kent. If you want to go the state route, find out what are the key dates in terms of applications. When do you need to be in situ? If going the private route, find out where other families live, you don’t want to be driving your child for hours at a weekend to go to a football club all your child’s mates go to which is 40 minutes from where you live, or picking up from play dates half an hour away. Also the prep schools often have different pick up times for different ages, so again be realistic about distance away from school.
Think about what type of house you want
Consider ongoing maintenance costs and how much time you want to spend gardening and DIYing. Factor these costs into your budget. Do you want characterful or more contemporary? Do you plan on having pets? Is a boot room and separate utility room important? Consider how your house could grow with your family.
Consider whether you would be prepared to do any work to a house and if so how much
A simple bathroom refurbishment can only take a couple of weeks whereas other works, say kitchen extensions or re-configuring houses to make the flow work, can end up being expensive and take much longer than you think. If you are happy to undertake quite a major project, you may have to move into rented accommodation and this needs to be factored into any costs. You may want to get a good local architect involved before you purchase. Be realistic about costs.
Know your market thoroughly
Know what price other houses have achieved. Don’t only look at what prices houses are on the market at, this can often be misleading. If a house has been on the market a long time find out why. Know which villages attract premiums and why. Know which are the most desirable roads and which are the roads to be avoided
Be prepared to come and look at a house at the drop of a hat
Good properties go very quickly.
Keep an open mind
If it’s all too much…..
Employ a good search agent with property expertise and excellent local market knowledge. They should be able to get you in houses before anyone else and could save you considerable sums with their market knowledge, negotiating skills and local contacts.