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Location, location, location: How to jump-start your home search by finding a place you love

Expert advice on narrowing your hunt to the area that’s right for you.

WHEN YOU’RE CONSIDERING buying a home, where you buy is going to be one of the first decisions you make. In last week’s feature, we discussed the first steps you’ll need to take to begin the home-buying process, and location ranks high on that list of first decisions.

While you might not be ready to put in your mortgage application or sign up for a virtual viewing quite yet, you can knock out the biggest decision of your home-buying process: your preferred location.

Where to buy your first home is the decision that will unlock the rest of the big choices in your home-buying process, so it’s crucial to give it proper thought — and to do that early on.

But how to narrow down your search to one or two key places? We asked a buyer’s agent and an estate agent to share their sage advice.

Map out your life: Your daily work, school or creche commute should be your first consideration, says Mark Rose, Managing Director of Rose Property Services. A good starting point is to figure out the main reference points in your life, and then how far you would be from each one.

“Traffic and cars are the bane of our lives, they add stress sitting in traffic because people are busy,” he explains, “Anything you can take away on a daily basis to give yourself a bit of time is the biggest luxury you’ll ever have.”

Shutterstock / Pierre-Olivier Shutterstock / Pierre-Olivier / Pierre-Olivier

So choosing an area with the right transport links should be top priority, he says. “It’s better than a swanky kitchen, better than a fancy bathroom.”

Rose even suggests trying your potential work commute several times, “If you’re really serious, you’ve gone out at 7am and done the commute as if you lived here, and see how you get on on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday morning.”

Find ‘feeder’ areas: “Most people want to move where they grew up, especially if friends and parents are still associated with the area,” says Philip Thompson, Sales Director at Casey Kenney Estate Agents. However, often first time buyers may be constrained by budget. So what then?

“In that case, you want to look at a natural feeder for that area,” he says. For instance, if you grew up in Rathfarnham but homes there are out of reach, you might look over the M50 motorway into Ballycullen, where property is less expensive and there are still new homes being built.

Shutterstock / luciann.photography Shutterstock / luciann.photography / luciann.photography

Identify your interests… and stay close to them: Once you’ve considered your commute and proximity to family and friends, Rose suggests looking for a neighbourhood with services that meet your particular needs – instead of someone else’s. “Pick somewhere you like where there’s shops, services, creche, pub or a nightclub,” depending on your own interests, he said.

Schools? Do your homework: If you’re planning to start a family, or are moving with kids in tow, schools could be a major consideration for you. “You’ll need to find out if there are schools being built in the area, or possibly if there are school buses that service the area,” says Thompson. “It might be a dealbreaker if there’s a dedicated bus service from the entrance of your cul de sac.”

He suggests researching the plans for the area through the local county council planning website, or even by contacting the local councillor.

Don’t get hung up on an Eircode: Both Rose and Thompson warn against getting too fixated on a particular street, cautioning that the current market means buyers should buy where they can afford. Thompson explains: “Usually first time buyers can’t be that specific. The volume of properties coming on the market has dropped very substantially in the last decade and there could be quite a bit of competition for the right properties.”

But bear in mind, what’s the right property for one person isn’t necessarily the right property for someone else. Look for the house that serves your needs, and you might find that it doesn’t quite suit anyone else the same way.

Shutterstock / Semmick Photo Shutterstock / Semmick Photo / Semmick Photo

Zero in and visit: Even if you’re not scheduling viewings or setting up meetings at the bank, you can still do boots-on-the-ground research into locations in order to get a jump on the home-buying process. “Go have a look when everyone is home,” Rose recommends, “Are there cars parked up on footpaths? Check out the lay of the land, and keep an eye out for any antisocial behavior.”

He even goes so far as to suggest spending time there at the weekends, going to the local coffee shop and waiting at the nearest bus stop or train station to get a sense of the area. It could be for you!

At Glenveagh Homes, our vision is that everyone should have the opportunity to access great-value, high-quality homes in flourishing communities across Ireland. We understand that buying a home is possibly the biggest decision you will ever make in your life – but we want to make it your easiest. Click here to find out more about Glenveagh developments.  

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