With the stamp duty holiday extended for 2021 and property prices reduced in some areas, people are making the most of this and looking to get on the ladder by buying a flat in Outer London. It’s no secret that buying property in London is very expensive (especially when I compare to my home town up North) but Outer London offers some more affordable options whilst still being close enough to London.
I thought I’d compile some of the lessons I learnt along the way to help if you’re looking for your perfect flat, these tips include what I wish I checked beforehand!
Know your maximum amount
One of my favourite past times is setting no max budget when looking at properties but unfortunately when buying a flat in Outer London, it is important to know what you can realistically afford each month. A great way of doing this is through a Mortgage Affordability Calculator which really lets you see what you can afford. Once you know this, you know how to refine your search and know exactly what areas in Outer London you can afford. Areas I’ve noticed a spike in include Charlton, Gravesend and Welling – all known as good commuter towns too.
Put money aside
It’s a good idea to make sure there is money spare to do any necessary rewiring or to furnish any rooms, if needed. You might also need to buy some furniture, especially if you were living in a furnished rented place beforehand. It’s handy to have put money aside where possible especially for this, Monzo’s round up saving tool is a great way to save without noticing it. I was definitely naive when I moved in – who knew hoovers were so expensive?!
Write a list
I really recommend having a strong idea of what you are looking for and what you are prepared to compromise on. A phrase that has been used a lot over the past year is the ‘new normal’ but it is worth keeping this in consideration when choosing to move house – how close are the parks or green spaces? Do you have a garden?
Similarly, with people less likely to be in the office full time, is there a space that you can dedicate to working?
When viewing properties
These are the small things that typically you don’t realise until you move in. Here are some things to keep an eye on:
- Check out the building when looking at a flat, are common areas well maintained? Is the entrance secure?
- What locks do neighbours have and how do they keep the areas?
- Look at the windows! In my rented flat, we had single glazing windows and in one of the rooms the wood frame was rotting and letting in moisture and kept no heat in at all (honestly, winter was brutal!) Check they are double glazed, check the windowsill and check windows are sealed – is there excess moisture etc? This way you are aware of any potential issues and no surprises.
- Are there fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms already fitted inside and outside your flat?
- One thing I strongly advise is looking out for things like mould. Check the corners of the room for signs such as wallpaper that is coming off or damp to touch walls.
The more questions you ask, the more confident you will be.
Consider your bills
Aim to get a good idea about typical bill costs when viewing the flat, which is normally on house descriptions or your Estate Agent will know.
Also, when viewing a flat, check out what kind of heating system they have. If your place has beautiful high ceilings or is an old building, this is most likely going to be hard to heat.
Check out the neighbourhood
This is quite an obvious one but I think it’s worthwhile to really check out the neighbourhood, if you’re not familiar with it already. I recommend going through the area at different times (either early in the morning or 5pm/6pm) to see how busy and noisy an area is. We live near a pub and we didn’t check what it was like as we assumed it was an ‘old man’s pub’ – it definitely is not!
- Is there a bar? If there is do research about opening times etc.
- Are you on a VERY main road? Near an alley way?
- Transport links are a huge must too. How easy is your commute going to be? Check out your nearest stations or tube stops and also bus routes in case there are delays. City Mapper is a good app for this.
- Spend some time checking out local cafes, child-friendly places to visit such as zoos, and the high street too – after all every home needs their favourite spots to visit!
I hope you found this helpful, buying a new property can be one of the most stressful experiences but taking these extra steps can make sure you’re happy and confident when buying the place right for you. I’d love to hear your top tips on buying or feel free to share your plans!
Check out this blog post for ultimate home inspiration.