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In This Guide

Before you start

Choosing an area

   1. Choosing an area

   2. Transport

   3. Crime

   4. Amenities

   5. Landscape

   6. Neighbours

   7. Check it out

Homes needing work

My dream home

New homes

Offline search

Online search


Types of purchase

Viewing property

Choosing an area

Check it out

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It may not be possible for you to visit an area until it is time to start house hunting, especially if you are relocating some distance from where you live now. But the very least you can do is your homework on the area, especially as so many web sites make it easy to do on the Internet.

If you can go and look around a place then some simple preparation can help ensure that your trip is worthwhile. Here is our advice for deciding whether you like an area:

  • Remember to take your area checklist with you. If you have decided that these are the most important factors in your choice, then you really should be thoroughly checking out those aspects of the place.

  • If you are buying with your partner, make sure you both go - people can have very different gut reactions to a place.

  • Go in the daytime.

  • Go at night to compare.

  • Walk round as much as you can - some very small areas can be quite diverse, especially in British cities.

  • Why not take some photos - these can be used to directly compare two areas later on.

  • Try and imagine what it will be like in the different seasons - appearances can change quite dramatically around the year.

  • See if you can spot many For Sale signs - if there are a lot of them on anything but a new development, this can be a bad sign. Why is everyone leaving?

  • Similarly, take note of the apparent state of local businesses - are they run down, or does it appear that investment is coming into the area?

  • Look at the types of housing, especially if you have your heart set on a certain type of building. This can be a reality check - it may be time to admit that finding a thatched cottage in the middle of a city is a bit unlikely.

  • Sample the atmosphere - have a drink in one or two of the local pubs or try out a restaurant.

After the background research and one or two visits, you should have a clear idea of whether you would be happy to live in an area. If so and you know what type of property you are after, then it is time top start the search in earnest.

If something feels wrong, and your gut feeling says no, then it's back to the drawing board, but at least you found out before you wasted too much time searching for property.

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