Finding & Viewing Your Perfect Home
With your deposit saved and your home mortgage secured, you can begin the exciting task of finding and viewing your perfect home… but where do you start?
Years ago, house hunting involved a visit to the local estate agents and hours searching newspaper listings, but with the World Wide Web at your fingertips, finding a place to live has never been easier, and with millions of properties available to buy right now, it makes sense to browse online. But before you unleash your inner Kirstie Allsopp or Phil Spencer, you need to narrow down your search results, and list:
- Your maximum budget
- The type of property you are looking for (apartment, house, detached, cottage etc.)
- The area or neighbourhood you would like to live in
With these three factors clearly outlined, you can begin the search for your dream home in Ireland.
Location, Location, Location
When it comes to buying a new home, the location should be your number one focus. You may dream of a romantic cottage in the Irish countryside, but if you work in the city and enjoy a busy social life, it might not be the best option for you.
When considering where to live, you should think about things such as commuting distances, local transport networks, nightlife, facilities within the immediate vicinity such as supermarkets and petrol stations, and perhaps most importantly of all, the local crime rate.
If you have children, you’ll probably want to focus on neighbourhoods with good schools and after-school activities, and areas within easy reach of doctors surgeries, dentists, and medical facilities. Everyone has different needs when it comes to choosing the location of their new home, so make a list of your priorities, but try not to make too many generalisations about a particular area before you have done your research.
What Is The Perfect Property For You?
Once you have nailed down where you would like to live, you can start looking at properties for sale in the area. By this stage, you should have a clear indication of the type of property you want to buy and the number of bedrooms you need, and so its time to look at other features that you may not have thought of before such as:
Unless you have opted for a new-build, find out exactly how old the property is prior to viewing. Older houses usually require more maintenance than new homes, but they generally have more character, so it’s all about weighing up the pros and cons.
Building Energy Rating (BER) Certificate
All houses come with an energy efficiency rating in Ireland, which outlines the building’s energy performance. Energy efficient homes tend to have lower energy bills, and if you are buying a larger property, this could make a huge impact on your annual running costs.
Windows, Electrics, Plumbing & Roof
Most new home buyers will be willing to take on minor repairs, particularly if they are purchasing an older home, but it is essential that you check the condition of the windows, electrics, plumbing system and roof before signing on the dotted line. These all cost thousands of Euros to repair and forewarned is forearmed.
Indoor and Outdoor Storage
Even if you are buying your first home, chances are, you’ll have a whole lot of baggage that you’ll need to store. Does your new house have an attic, garage, or secure shed? If not, does it really have enough space for your worldly belongings? One of the biggest reasons people move home is because they do not have enough space – so check the floor plans and calculate wisely if you intend to stay put.
Local Home Property Tax (LPT)
If you own a residential property in Ireland, you are liable to pay Local Property Tax or LPT. This is based on the market value of the property, with the standard rate being 0.18% on properties of up to €1,000,000.
Viewing Potential Homes
When it comes to viewing your shortlisted properties, the key is to take your time. Your real estate agent may have a hundred appointments that day and want to rush you around the property, but buying a new home is a huge investment, and it’s not something that can be rushed. Here are our top tips:
- How bright is the house? Natural light is really important, not only for your well being but also your energy costs. Unleash your inner Dermot Bannon and see where the sun rises and sets on the rooms of the house. Top Tip Turn off all the lights if they are switched on, its an estate agent trick to make a house look better than it really is.
- Go from room to room, making notes if necessary. Are the walls cracked? Do the floorboards creak? Can you see or smell damp? Check behind curtains and move large pieces of furniture, they could be hiding major repairs.
- Check the light fittings and switches to see if they are in good working order.
- Are the walls insulated? This impacts heating costs but also noise coming from other rooms.
- Check the plumbing. Is there low water pressure? Do the toilets flush? Check if the property has a septic tank and if its operational and has been recently inspected.
- If there is an attic or garage, take a look to make sure it is clean and well ventilated.
- Stop and listen. Is it noisy?
- View the property at least twice, at different times of the day. You might not notice a busy road or train track during the day, but it could be noisy at night.
- Ask questions: Is the house underneath a flight path? Is there a dump or recycling site nearby? How far is your nearest bus stop?
- Try to assess what repairs/upgrades you would need to do to make it yours and discuss the financial impact of these with your mortgage broker.
Next Step: Making an Offer.