Moving house is exciting, and rightly so! The idea of getting your first foot on the housing ladder, or working your way up it, can be thrilling, but it’s important to really know the area you’re putting down roots in. It’s true that the majority of people stay within the area they or their family already live in, however certain enclaves and individual neighbourhoods can have different feels and amenities. Different people at different stages of life will, more often than not, require different things. For example, it may be important for working professionals to be near good transport links, whereas young families may look to be closer to schools and open spaces.
Getting on with the people around you will contribute to your happiness, so how can you avoid choosing an area that fall’s short of what you need in the coming years? Here are a few key tips to help make sure you aren’t left wishing you’d never moved in the first place.
Visit at all hours
Visiting the area at different times of the day and throughout the week is a good way to gain a thorough perspective of any neighbourhood. Plan trips after the kids have been dropped at school and during evening rush hour to gain an idea of how the area changes throughout the day. Get to know whether the neighbourhood quietens down at weekends, becomes a party destination or whether parking becomes particularly tricky on different days.
Assess the local amenities
The surrounding amenities will give you a good idea of who lives there as well as the area itself. When it comes to retail amenities, it is important to ask yourself how important the local high-street is to you. Do you tend to go out of town to do shopping or do you prefer to have everything you need on your doorstep? If a buzzing local high-street is important, it’s worth taking note of the overall nature and feel of the street itself. Are there many independent shops, bars and restaurants on offer, are there a few empty lots or is the area up and coming and undergoing change? There is no right or wrong answer to these questions and will depend on your own personal needs, tastes and priorities.
Leisure amenities and open spaces are also high on many buyers’ checklists. Is the area home to open spaces and parks? Are there local sports facilities and clubs on offer? It is important to keep in mind what is important to you as a future resident when eyeing up an area. Make these key considerations for an agent when they are helping you explore areas, as a good professional will know the hidden gems in any neighbourhood.
Take note of communal areas
If you are moving into a flat, pay attention to any shared areas. While a rickety lift and a few broken corridor lights may not be the end of the world for some, they can give a good indication as to how well the communal areas are looked after. It is a good idea to ask how these areas are managed; is it the resident’s responsibility or that of an external management team? If the building is managed by the residents then the condition of the stairs, for example, gives you some clue as to the type of people living there. All shared areas should be well maintained, clean and safe at the very least.
Peer over the garden fence
Similarly, if you are moving into a house get an idea of whether next door is well maintained or not. Neighbours can have a huge impact on your happiness in your new home so it is worth sussing out what they are like, even if you can’t meet them. More often than not there will be a maverick on the street who allows their property and land to fall into disrepair, however, it is important to look at the wider area as a whole, rather than fixating on one dilapidated house front or untidy garden.
Worried about planning applications?
It is definitely worthwhile knowing whether your would-be neighbours have submitted any recent planning applications. Moving in only to discover the family to your right is due to start work on a two-storey garage extension or are waiting to have a swimming pool dug the following week could result in a less than ideal start in your new home. However, do not fret – your solicitors should do a full search of the immediate area and will report back to you with any recently submitted planning applications that are on record.
Use your agent
One of the most important assets you can have when moving areas is a knowledgeable and experienced local agent. Having worked in North and North West London for over 50 years, we at Martyn Gerrard know the region inside out and can provide detailed and valuable insight into whichever area you’re considering. We are NAEA qualified, so you know that we have the proper training and qualifications to make sure that you have full and necessary disclosure on whatever property you may be considering. Not only will we help you find the area that’s right for you, but we will also make sure to find that local gem of a property that’s ready to become your new home.
Simon Gerrard FNAEA PPNAEA MARLA