About to kick off a property search? These 5 easy steps will make sure it ends up in the perfect home you can afford.

Gearing up to buy a new home? There's little point going on viewings until you’ve established what you can afford, the type of home you’re looking for and where you want to be.

Viewing properties before being certain about any of these factors is risky, not to mention a waste of time for both you and the agent.

A successful property search requires focus and direction. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle with three key pieces – budget, space and location. What you can spend is the starting point; the other two pieces need to fit around that.

Here are my 5 steps to a successful property search:

1. Establish your budget

First things first. Speak to an independent mortgage adviser to get an idea of what your budget might be for the property purchase. This will largely depend on your salary (salaries if you are buying with someone else), your monthly outgoings, any outstanding debt you have and the size of the deposit you are putting down. You can find out more about applying for a mortgage here.

2. Make a wish list (in order of priority)

Once you know what you can afford, list down what you want from the property. That means the style of home, number of bedrooms, kitchen size, commute time, local schools, garden etc. When you've done that, mark each requirement on an importance scale of 1-10 as it's likely you'll have to compromise on something down the line.

3. Use free tools and information on Zoopla

Use the information on Zoopla to research local property values, sold house prices and area stats such as average price per square foot in the locations you’re interested in. Click on the image below for more free tools on Zoopla that will make you a property expert:











4. Contact some local agents

Useful as they are, online tools and information are just a starting point. They won't replace speaking to an expert who has on-the-ground knowledge of the current local property market. Discuss your requirements with a few local estate agents – good ones will be helpful. You can find a list of local agents in the areas you are interested in here

 5. Narrow down your search

With every viewing you will find out more about what you want, don’t want, and what you can and can’t afford. Use each viewing as a means of refining your criteria and potential compromises so that you can be more precise in what you are looking for and where.

And finally, always listen to your heart – just don’t let it take over.

Zoopla strongly advises seeking legal and/or financial advise from a qualified professional.

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