Where to begin?
There are loads of websites to search for a property, all with great maps and features, prime location (known affectionately in our house as property p*rn), findaproperty, globrix and rightmove but now there is a new kid on the block called Aduza which brings all the adverts together….personally I like the idea of everyone being in one place but I’m finding the price scale hard to operate an iPad, but it’s definitely worth following to see if it improves. There is also the lovely Sarah Beeny with her” sell your own property site” Tepilo - I haven’t had much luck finding anything that tickles my fancy but it’s definitely worth a peep. It’s also worth mentioning that Estate Agents are really picking up a pace in terms of their websites and mobile apps. Knight Frank has apparently won awards for their mobile site and I’m sure the likes of Guy Leonard and Co in Sussex are doing a great job. (Looking at the numerous national agents and websites out there makes me think I ought to do a blog on that sometime – it can be hard to know where to start!)
How to pay for it
Getting a mortgage requires numerous form filling hours but in principle it’s good to get an idea of what’s on offer and London and Country Mortgages have got a fairly good mobile site but there is also Mortgage Toolkit which has some excellent features including calculators and apparently best buys although I’ve heard rumours that they aren’t always the best deals so better to shop around. You can connect directly to a mortgage advisor for those who are a bit technophobic.
If you’re planning to commute to London there is a website called Commute From where you put in your station and how long you want it to take to get there and it’ll tell you which station is within that distance….pretty clever and useful I think. Another useful site, if you’re moving within commuter distance, is the Commuter Guide . You definitely can’t rely on all the information you need but it’s a good place to start. If you’re house hunting within London Across Air is a clever app useful, telling you exactly how far it is to the nearest tube station.
The Research on your chosen area
Once you’ve located the place of your dreams it’s worth checking a few critical things in the local area….flood plains are easy to spot on the Environment Agency website as are the areas of pollution from the same place. The crime map known affectionately as Crime Location can be useful in your research, even the smallest village might have a criminal past and you dont want to accidentally buy in a criminal pocket if you didn’t know about it before hand - do it at your current home and you might get a shock!
You can get some helpful pointers on how the area fares in terms of employment, health and education at Numberhood. It’s a great iphone app that is free for the basic stats, if you want more you can pay a little bit to upgrade but it seems to be pretty useful.
Around me is a useful app which shows all sorts of useful information, nearest doctors, garages, restaurants and all sorts…it’s worth having it even if you aren’t house hunting…many times I’ve opened it when I’m running low on fuel in an area I don’t know!
Everyone with school age children is going to be researching the schools – you’ll want the ofsted report website open most of the time but also the Good Schools Guide - I like the interactive map and lots of their site is really useful.
For the purpose of negotiation it’s good to know values of properties sold in the area so it’s always worth looking at the land registry and equally useful and some say better is Zoopla, the rising star in the property world. It shows at what price properties have been sold. Another perhaps slightly lesser known option is Mouse Price. As I understand it some of the figures are a bit suspect and the mobile app isn’t quite up to speed but it’s worth having a look at it. Either way don’t be tempted to spend your time searching out what your neighbours paid for their house….
The One Stop Shop
Am I allowed to put www.lifeafterlondon.com in this space? We could arguably feature at the top of the list – the place to come before you even begin the search – do the research and then find the house! But putting me first seems a bit ‘cocky’! Either way I think we fill a spot that is critical in the house search. It’s the easy way to connect with locals and ask real questions about your chosen area. We’ve got people all over the UK willing to answer questions, whether you’re in the early stages of house-hunting and just enjoying narrowing down the search or if you’re just about to buy and you need some help before you arrive.
The Final Stages
Once you’ve found the house of your dreams and you’re off, you’ll need some conveyancing help (a solicitor in layman’s terms). It seems in the age of the world wide web even this can be done on-line with the biggest being My Home Move as a good place to start. You then you have the question of removal companies. Going on line to get quotes has never been easier with so many around – but there’s another alternative Shiply, who send out the quote to all the big companies who then make a bid. Also as a top tip I have heard, if you’re moving from London it’s almost always cheaper to get a company from where you’re going to do your move….
There are loads of options out there, my research is going to continue and I’m looking forward to adding updates to this which I hope you will find useful.