Step 5: Looking for a home


Buying a home is a big commitment, which is why it pays to be careful and plan ahead. As you start looking for your new property ask yourself what exactly you need from it.

For example, do you want to live in town, in the suburbs, in a village or in the countryside?

What sort of home would you like? A terrace? A detached house? A flat? A bungalow? Would you like to live in a period property or a new build? What are the ‘must haves’ and what are the ‘nice to haves’? How many rooms do you need? Will you want to start a family in your new home?

It’s worth giving some thought to these questions. You could also print out and fill in this table to help you figure out what you want and what you need.

Viewing properties

You will often know exactly how you feel as you start looking round a property, but it's important to scratch under the surface and think about the local area as well as the property itself. Don't be afraid to ask yourself, the owner and the estate agent plenty of questions.

It's also worth visiting the area at different times of the day and taking someone with you. They may notice things you miss.

Here's some guidance on the sort of questions you might want to ask and some helpful information on estate agents.

1 Questions about the property+
  • Is it a freehold or a leasehold property1?
  • Does the property look in good condition, inside and out?
  • Have there been any structural problems?
  • Have surveys shown that there are problems with the property?
  • Are the wiring, woodwork, windows and damp-proofing in good condition?
  • Would you feel safe and secure living there?
  • Does the property have a working security system?
  • What are the neighbours like?
  • How much light does the property get – especially in winter?
  • Which direction does the garden face?
  • Is parking easy?
  • Have the owners got somewhere to move to? Are they looking for a quick sale?
  • Is there a chain, or number of other property sales and purchases that this seller is depending on to be able to sell his home, and what would the seller do if the chain broke?
  • How long has the property been on the market?
  • Is the estate agent the sole agent? (If they're not the property could have been on the market for some time with other agents).
  • How many people have viewed the property? And have any of them put in an offer?

1Freehold means that you're buying the property and land it's built on, so there will be no ground rent or service charges. With a leasehold property you are buying the property but not the land it's built on, so you'll have to pay a ground rent to the owner of the land (the freeholder). You may also have a service charge to pay for the upkeep of the building and communal areas.

2 Questions about the area+
  • What is the traffic like?
  • Is the area quiet?
  • Are there any known major developments planned nearby?
3 And you should ask questions about local amenities+
  • Are shops and services within easy reach?
  • What are the local schools or nurseries like?
  • How well is the area served by public transport?
  • Are there parks or open spaces nearby?
4 Some tips on estate agents+

Remember that although estate agents are happy to give you information, they're actually working for, and being paid by, the seller.

  • The estate agent is required by law not to mislead you, so they have to describe the property in a true and accurate way.
  • You can make an offer on a property with certain conditions attached, but the seller doesn't have to accept them.
  • If an estate agent asks you to pay a pre-contract deposit, check with your legal adviser whether this is necessary – and whether you'll get the money back if the sale falls through.
  • Keep a record of all correspondence relating to the sale.

Why not make a few copies of our homeviewer’s checklist to take on viewings so that you’ll have all of these questions to hand as you look at properties.

Important Information


All applications are subject to status and our leading criteria. This means that the ammount we will lend you will not depend on your individual circumstances, the type of property and the ammount you borrow. For example, we nay require a higher deposit if you are buying a flat or a new built property.