These are strange and unsettling times and the property market has been changed by the coronavirus pandemic, with many buyers prompted to fulfil their dreams of a rural idyll sooner rather than later. If you are thinking of downsizing or upsizing in 2021, what are the top things to bear in mind when searching for your dream home during a pandemic?
Written by Lisa Proffitt | 22nd January 2021
How to Buy a House in 2021: Buying property during a pandemic
Think long-term: Some properties might work for your lifestyle now, but what about in five years-time? You might want to think about future family plans and where your children would go to school. The quality of local schools and their distance from the house are both important factors to consider. Maybe you need to factor in aging parents and how close you want to be to them, and from a work perspective, what would happen if you had to move jobs or even lost your job? Would you still be happy in the area and would the house still work for you? Think about the future and take a long-term view. The costs of moving are high so the longer you stay in a house the better.
Make a check list of your important criteria: Does the property pass the pint of milk test? If you want to be able to pop out to buy a loaf of bread and a pint of milk or return those Amazon packages, it’s worth finding out how handy a house is for a corner shop or post office. Perhaps you’re addicted to your high street morning latte so a coffee shop within two miles is a deal- breaker. Or if you’re planning on working from home, maybe Broadband speed of at least 50 Mbps is non-negotiable. These are serious things to consider in advance of any home search.
Think space: Since the first lockdown hit, properties with large spaces inside and out have been at a premium. Social distancing has made us more aware of space than ever before. To future-proof your new home, consider a property that you can add to and make bigger. You can’t always rely on the property market to climb and it’s cheaper to build extra square footage on to a property than to start the moving process again and buy a bigger property.
Narrow your search: In this pandemic we’re reliant on virtual tours which give a fantastic first impression of the layout of a property and how it could work for your family and lifestyle. When it comes to making an offer though, most buyers will wait until they’ve walked through the front door, absorbed the atmosphere of the place and had a physical viewing. To avoid wasting time and energy, focus your requirements as tightly as possible. The clearer you can be on what sort of property you want, where it is likely to be located and what your budget is, the easier and quicker the buying process, regardless of any restrictions that are in place.
Future developments: Will that view over the village allotments be replaced by a building site for a new development in the not too distant future? If your property is in a conservation area you will have less cause for concern, but do find out as early as possible whether there are any active planning applications in the area. These will be included in your solicitor’s search but by the time you get to that point you will have invested quite a bit of time and money, not least in solicitors’ fees. The Government's Planning Portal helps avoid nasty surprises by directing you to planning applications made in your area. You can search by postcode and area so check before you put in an offer.
Local area: Location isn't entirely subjective. Proximity to good transport links, wide open green spaces, independent shops and restaurants, good schools and safe streets all help to ensure that your home appreciates in value over time. You can also judge the popularity of the local area by how long homes take to sell. If turnover is fast, you're not the only one who thinks this is a desirable place to live.
Research flood risk: The havoc Storm Christoph caused across the country is a timely warning of the importance of proper research. Flood risk has a significant impact on insurance premiums, a property's value and your quality of life if you're unlucky enough to be hit by water damage. The Environment Agency provide detailed reports on whether and why an area is at risk and you can access their site free of charge. It’s quick and easy to discover how vulnerable a property is, possibly saving years of stress. Do your research now to avoid being wise after the event.
At Michael Graham we have rigorous coronavirus safety measures in place so that we can continue helping our customers move forward in these challenging Covid times. You can read our full Covid-19 guidelines here.
If you're thinking of moving in 2021 then please call us now or book a property valuation through the website. If you’re looking for a new home with more space inside and out, the properties below all offer country life with plenty of options for working from home. You can also use our Property Search to find your dream home.