Over the last 8 years or so I’ve moved a LOT. I spent three years in England, and I moved house each year. Since I came back to Belfast in 2013 I’ve lived in my parents house and two other apartments and now I’m moving again! Basically I’m becoming quite the pro at moving house.
Amy and I are hoping to move in together in July 2018 – so at the moment we’re viewing different properties and waiting to fall in love with the right one.
When you’re looking to buy or rent a new place, there are so many different things you have to consider, at various stages throughout the process.
Before You Book a Viewing
Have a Clear-ish Idea of What Kind of Property You’re Looking For
Make a list of “red lines” – things that your new property must have and these are non-negotiable. For example, we want our new house to have double-glazed windows and gas heating because:
1) Double Glazed windows meant the property will be warmer and we will have to spend less on heating.
2) Gas heating is metered so we can keep better tabs on what we’re spending.
Then make another list of things that you would like for your property to have.
We would prefer to have a house as opposed to an apartment but if an apartment became available and we fell in love with it – we wouldn’t rule it out.
Set a Budget and Stick to It
This is probably the most important tip I can give you. When it comes to looking at houses, many things can be negotiated. Your budget shouldn’t be one of them! Which beings me on to…
Don’t Research and View Properties Outside of Your Price Range
I am soooo guilty of this one. I’m super nosy so I love looking at all the really fancy properties that I might be able to afford one day. If I win the lottery. But it isn’t helpful and it just makes you feel disheartend – so stick to looking at what you can afford now.
During Your Viewing
Bring Someone Else With You
It’s always good to have an extra pair of eyes. When you’re looking around a property – there is so much to take in and in the heat of the moment it’s easy to miss something crucial.
Another person, might spot something that you didn’t – maybe a crack in some tiling or some hidden damp which could make all the difference in whether you want to buy or rent the property or not!
Go back to the list you made earlier and make sure that you confirm everything that was on your “Red Line” list with the Estate Agent. They’re there to answer your questions so make the most of the opportunity on your way round.
If the current tenant is in the property at the time, ask them some questions about the property and about the general area. They’re the ones with experience living there so they’ll be able to give you an honest insight.
Try to Look Past the Current Tenant’s Mess/Stuff
This is really hard to do. I’ve been to so many viewings where the house itself has been really messy/dirty due to the current tenants and it’s really easy to be put off by that.
Try to imagine the house as a blank canvas (after a deep clean!) and picture your stuff in it. Think about how you could best use the space, where you would put your own furniture and most importantly, could you see yourself living there?
Before You Sign the Dotted Line
Visit the Property Again
By this, I don’t necessarily mean book another viewing. Go and visit the street/area of your property at different times of the day and at night. The location of your dream house might be idillic during the day, but the night-time could be a whole other story. Trust me on this one. The last thing you want is to have to deal with noisy neighbours. I have noisy neighbours in the flat above me at the moment and it has totally spoilt my experience of what is otherwise a really lovely flat.
Get a Written Agreement from your New Landlord
If you get accepted for your tenancy – make sure that you make a note of anything you would like the landlord to look at before you move in. For example, the place might need a fresh coat of paint or if there’s any damp/mould – that will need to go before you set up home!
Landlords are notorious for telling tenants that they will fix things and/or freshen the place up, just to make sure the tenant signs the contract and pays the deposit. Trying to get them to do these things after the contract has been signed can be a nightmare, so always make sure you have a separate written contract with the Landlord setting out everything you have agreed so they can’t back out of it once they’ve got your deposit in their pocket!
It’s so important to inform the landlord about any problems or damage issues prior to moving into the house. Otherwise they could accuse you of causing the damage and take money from your deposit to repair it.
Read Your Contract Carefully
This sounds really straight-forward but you would be surprised how many people don’t read the small print and then end up losing part of their deposit at the end of the tenancy because they did something to break the terms of the contract without realising!
Things I’ve found that you need to be wary of are “quiet hours” (does all music etc have to be turned off by a certain time – this is more common in blocks of flats) and whether or not the Landlord will permit you to hang pictures/posters on the wall. Some do not allow this at all, others do as long as you don’t leave any lasting marks on the wall.
Basically, just keep yourself in the right at all times!
Let me know if you use any of my tips to secure your dream house, or if you have any other tips I’ve missed out on! I would love to hear about them!