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So you’ve decided to take the next step on the housing ladder. But house hunting can be bewildering.
How do you pick an area that will weather fluctuations in the housing market? And a home that will grow with you – and have long-lasting appeal?
Here are our top tips on how to find a future-proofed home.
Home in on an area
First things first, you need to decide on an area in which to buy a home. Here's our pick of factors to consider, ranging from transport links, through to internet connectivity.
It's important to note that housing markets do vary significantly across the UK, so make sure you fully research individual areas and speak with local estate agents before proceeding with a purchase.
It pays to know about up-and-coming transport projects. Upgrades and new links could not only improve your lifestyle, but they could also boost the value of your home, with research showing how transport can have a positive knock-on effect on house prices.
And, with the experience of lockdown leading many people to consider moving out of major towns and cities, and seeking more space, effective transport links will remain a vital part of a ‘future-proofed’ home.
It’ll make many destinations even more accessible and slash commuting times. Major estate agents, such as JLL, CBRE, Savills and Knight Frank, have published research showing the impact of the new project on local house prices.
New transport infrastructure often goes hand-in-hand with wider regeneration. Whether it’s the development of a new block of flats, or the overhaul of a substantial parcel of land, property development typically has a ripple effect.
While having building work on your doorstep can be a hindrance in the short-term, having new housing and amenities can bolster the value of your home in the long-term.
You only have to look at the so-called Waitrose-effect to see what the presence of a premium supermarket can do to a local housing market.
Supermarkets in general can push up local house prices by £21,500 compared to homes in nearby areas without a supermarket chain, according to Lloyds Bank. And homes near a Waitrose command the biggest premiums, costing 12% more than average house prices in the wider area.
Putting the investment angle to one side, having easy access to new amenities can be a major bonus from a lifestyle perspective too.
Check council planning websites and local community groups to find out what developments are chalked up in your area. A density of construction hoardings is a good sign of an up-and-coming area.
Providing a good education for children is a ‘must’ for most parents, so it’s unsurprising that proximity to top-rated schools is a major pull for buyers. You can expect to pay a substantial premium to live in the catchment of a plum school.
House price growth near top-performing state schools has ‘significantly’ outpaced the rest of the country in recent years, according to Lloyds Bank. In fact, house prices near top schools grew by 35% (£104,365), compared with the English average of 20% (£49,082), between 2013 and 2018.
Check out Ofsted's website for information on how individual schools are performing. Local councils are a good source for finding out school catchment areas.
A reliable and effective internet connection and a strong mobile phone signal are fast becoming must-haves for buyers. And the experience of working from home during lockdown has highlighted the importance of good connectivity for many people.
Some 15% of buyers and sellers in our recent survey said they wish they’d checked broadband speeds and mobile phone signal in the area before moving.
To find out more, check out our analysis of property prices, internet speed, access to cafés and the number of other remote workers in over 100 locations across the country.
And here's our guide with more information on how to decide if an area is right for you.
The next thing you need to consider is the specifics of the property. Thinking about how you plan to use your home both now and in the future will help you find one with longevity.
If you’re hoping to have a young family, for example, you’ll want to consider buying a home that has space to grow into – or scope to extend. For more on this, check out our guide about weighing up whether to buy a doer-upper or a pre-extended home.
Or, if you’re looking for a home to move into for your later years, a low-maintenance property that can be easily adapted will be key.
But considering wider housing trends will also steer you towards a savvy property purchase.
The experience of lockdown has led many people to carry out a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ re-evaluation of their housing requirements – and that is filtering through into buyers’ wish lists.
Certainly, working from home has been a major feature of lockdown. And it’s a trend that many people expect to stay. As a result, there’s been a surge in interest for homes with office areas.
Some 42% of respondents in our recent survey anticipate working from home more often, with an office area becoming more of a priority for 22% of respondents. This figure increased to 34% among those in the 35-49 year age bracket.
Homes with a garden or balcony, or located near to green areas, are also moving up the desirability rankings. And that’s because outdoor space, already a sought-after feature, has become even more important since lockdown too.
One in five young people in our survey revealed that they’re more likely to compromise on property features, such as prioritising private outdoor space over an additional bedroom.