Step 5: Looking for a home


Buying your next home is a big commitment, which is why it pays to be careful and plan ahead. As you start looking for your new property you’ll probably have a good idea of what you’d like to move to, and how it should compare to the property that you’re living in at the moment, but asking yourself a few questions again should help you get all the boxes ticked.

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 or grow your family in your new home?

You could print out and fill in this table to help you figure out what you want and what you need from your next home.

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.


Questions about the property should include

  • 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.


Questions about the area should include

  • What is the traffic like?
  • Is the area quiet?
  • Are there any known major developments planned nearby?

And you should ask questions about local amenities such as

  • 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?

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.


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.

Important Information


All applications are subject to status and our lending criteria. This means that the amount we’ll lend you will depend on your individual circumstances, the type of property and the amount you borrow. For example, we may require a bigger deposit if you’re buying a flat or new build property.