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Identifying location and requirements

Choosing your next home usually involves finding a balance between what you want, what you can afford, and what is available.

There are many reasons for buying a property and every individual’s requirements vary, but most buyers’ decisions will be influenced to some degree by budget, location and size. Some buyers may also have a preference for a particular type of home.

You can read more about determining how much you can afford in our guide to establishing finances.

Choosing the right location for your new home

When choosing a location there are a number of considerations to take into account. Some are practical and others are more emotional. Considerations may include:

  • The safety of the neighbourhood: The Metropolitan Police provides an online crime-mapping service that can be used to see crime statistics for any given area. Visiting prospective areas at different times of day will also give you a good feel for the area
  • Local schools: Check the Department for Education’s school league tables to find out how well the local schools perform
  • Other local amenities: What are the shops, restaurants, parks and pubs in the area like?
  • Transport links: Is the area well serviced by public transport?
  • Flood risk: The Environment Agency provides details on areas that are at risk of flooding
  • Council tax band: How much council tax will you need to pay in the area?
  • Upcoming developments: Visit the Government’s Planning Portal to see if there are any major developments planned for the area, which may have a positive or negative impact
  • Distance to and from work: Are you prepared to offset a longer commute against somewhere less central?
  • Distance from family and friends: Consider how close you will be to family and friends. For some, the practical advantages of this will be more important than for others
  • Flight paths: Are you going to be woken at the weekend by aircraft flying overhead?
  • Proximity to busy roads or railway lines: Before settling on an area, you should visit it at different times of day, including rush hour, when noise levels from nearby roads may be more evident

Requirements can change as you progress through your property search. If you find that the properties you are looking at are not meeting all your requirements, widening your search can help, as properties in different areas of London can vary widely.

Choosing the right type of property

You may be looking for a specific type of property, such as a detached house or a garden flat. Whatever your preference, practicalities should also be considered. For instance, if you have a young child or have mobility difficulties, having to climb several flights of stairs on a regular basis may need to be avoided.

Some buyers will be looking only at new-builds and others only at pre-owned properties. You can find out more about the differences between new build and pre owned properties in our guide to new build and pre owned homes.

Other factors to consider when choosing a property

The size of the property will be a major consideration and will be determined by your needs and your budget. You should bear in mind that if you are planning to stay in your new home for many years, you may need more space in the future if you are planning to grow your family.

Whether the property is freehold or leasehold should also be taken into account. The main difference between freehold and leasehold properties is that in a leasehold scenario, you buy the right to occupy the property for a set period of time but do not own the building itself. With freehold, you own the entirety of the property including the land it sits on. When you buy a flat with share of freehold, the lease on the property comes with a share of ownership of the building. Leaseholders in a block with several properties often choose to buy the freehold between them and so share of freehold gives them more control over the management of the property.

For further information, read our guide to searching for and shortlisting properties.

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