When it comes to home buying, location is a big consideration. You may be able to do a house up, but you can't change its location. That's why it's worth knowing about an area when you're thinking about moving
The property may be perfect, but there’s something else to think about – the rest of the neighbourhood. Does it have problems with crime? Are the schools up to scratch? Are house prices rising or falling?
So if a property catches your eye, do these eight bits of research. You’ll soon know if it’s the right one for you.
1. Find out local house prices
You might know the asking price of the property you’re looking at, but how does it compare to the rest of the area?
These are great for spotting trends in the immediate area – and for finding out how things might change long term. Are local house prices going up, down or nowhere?
There’s also Zoopla heatmaps – meaning you can see whether the street you’re looking at is red hot or ice cold.
2. Check your area's crime statistics
Safety is naturally a really big factor in buying a home – and that means checking out what crimes have been committed in the area. Your best bet is to enter your postcode on Police.uk .
Their website will let you see the local police station and the number of crimes committed nearby. The website also lists the type of crime – meaning you know if that pub around the corner is going to be a problem or not.
3. Find out school catchment areas
So, you love an area – but are the schools any good? Not to worry, there’s Locrating.com (it stands for local-rating, just so you know).
All you have to do is pop in the property’s postcode and you’re given a Google-maps style overview of the area.
Locrating pinpoints every school, complete with Ofsted rating, GCSE and SAT results, as well as the number of teachers per pupil.
If you’re based in London, there’s a similar tool available on London.gov.uk which also shows you what the journey to school will be like if you’re walking, driving or taking public transport.
4. Check if anyone's planning building works
Find out if next door are planning a two story extension on their garage.
Visit the government’s Planning Portal and search for any developments that are planned near you. It may prevent a nasty surprise later on.
5. Find out if there's traffic noise
That property near an A-road may have seemed relatively quiet during that Sunday afternoon viewing – but what’s it like during Friday rush hour?
The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (also known as DEFRA) have produced traffic noise maps for big parts of the country. All you have to do is enter the property’s postcode to see how noisy an area is.
You can filter by road, rail and air – so you can also discover if that flight path or train line is going to be driving you round the bend.
6. Research your neighbourhood
If you want to get a sense of what an area’s like – and you’re too shy to knock on people’s doors – you can grab a neighbourhood summary from the Office for National Statistics .
These profiles really get into detail – you can find out about age range, life expectancy, education and housing. There’s a lot there you can use to find out whether it’s going to be somewhere you want to live one day.
7. Look on Street View
If you forget to explore the surrounding area – just get on Google Maps Street View and have a look around.
It’s especially useful for getting a feel for an area before you go on a viewing – that way you know if the area is really as nice as the photos on the estate agent’s website.
There's also the handy grassroots tool FixMyStreet.com , where people report anything that needs sorting in their area – like potholes or abandoned cars – and whether it's been resolved by the council, or if locals had to sort it out themselves.
8. Assess the Flood Risk
If you know you’re in an area prone to flooding – or if you have absolutely no idea – it’s worth finding out.
Thankfully, Homecheck has a free flood-risk assessment service. It will let you know just how close you are to an area at risk of flooding and how close nearby flood defences are. If it does turn out you’re in a flood-risk area, you can also pay a bit more for a full report.
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