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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 3 March 2021

Location, location, location: How to find the perfect place to buy (and give yourself more options too)

Two property experts share their tips on narrowing down your search.

Image: Shutterstock/Ant Kim

Buying a home is a big decision, and it can be a daunting one. In the First Time Buyer Fix with Glenveagh Homes, we’ll be taking some of the stress out of the process by sharing insights and advice – as well as the experiences of those who’ve been there. Today, we’re focusing on location.

RECENT YEARS HAVE brought a changing landscape for first-time buyers.

Location is still the first decision on many if not most buyers’ lists as their journey begins. But with the market still competitive, and the move to remote working an increasingly important factor, the priorities of many households have evolved even since this time last year.

So how should first-time buyers begin narrowing down their property search, by choosing the towns or neighbourhoods to focus on? We asked buyer’s agent Gavan Russell at Locations.ie and estate agent Riona McCaughey of Knight Frank to share their expertise.

Remember that transport links will shape your life: While proximity to the office might not be so much of a prime consideration these days, transport links overall will always be a big one when choosing a location for your first home, says McCaughey. “Being in close proximity to transportation links is still important. You mightn’t be commuting to work every day, and that’s less of a burden, but you need to be future-proofing your house for years to come.”

She suggests that purchasing close to a major road network can help you stay flexible in the future. “If and when things change, you’re more able to switch back to normal life where you would be reliant on having that transport.”

Source: Shutterstock/trabantos

Look at your immediate surroundings: The events of the past year have reframed some of the decisions for first-time buyers, with an increased focus on the immediate amenities. “What we’ve seen with first-time buyers is that they’re looking for different things that they might not have been so focused on previously,” Russell says. “The amenity of being close to a park, close to the sea, going for walks.” There’s also been an impact on overall space needs. “People are looking for balconies on their properties, maybe an extra bedroom to use as a home office.” 

Road-test your key routes… literally: “Covid has shown us that you want to have easy access to the nearest grocery store, go get milk and bread in a quick and convenient time, have a coffee shop or a play park right around the corner,” says McCaughey. To that end, she recommends testing out these routes yourself – at rush hour if possible – before narrowing down a location, and ensuring amenities like grocery stores aren’t an inconvenient drive away.

Ask yourself if ‘rentability’ is a factor: In changeable times, one way to gve yourself more flexibility is to consider future rentability. “If there’s a chance you might move abroad,” says Russell, it could be worth considering whether you could rent out a future home if necessary. He pointed out that rents are strong in Dublin, and the rental income would likely cover the mortgage cost. “If you’re thinking you might be open to moving in the next two to three years, you should buy something that would either rent or sell quite well in the future. If you buy something remote, you might find it harder to rent out, or find rent quite low.”

Source: Shutterstock/luciann.photography

Buy for your future needs, not just your needs now: While you might not have immediate plans for starting a family, first-time buyers will want to consider the future – and know that you might not want to purchase or move again in the next few years.

“If family is going to be in your timeframe of five to ten years, think about schools and creches and get yourself familiar with what’s happening in the area,” says McCaughey. “Find out where up-and-coming schools are being built, as well as facilities, leisure centres.” Anything that will facilitate family living should be added to the list as you’re making a decision about what location you’d like to live.

Think about your free time… and where you like to spend it: In terms of leisure time, how do you like to spend it, and where? Russell says this can be impacted by location more than you might think. “If you’ve an interest in sea swimming, you should stay near the coast,” he says. “You’re not going to be able to maintain a hobby if you’ve moved 10 miles inland. It’s a hard one to keep up if you’re driving.” Similar considerations can be made if you’re interested in hiking or playing sports that would require long drives from your new home.

Look down the road: You can give yourself more options by casting a wider net, rather than committing to a specific neighbourhood, says Russell. “I think people tend to look locally and say where is a less expensive location close to where I’m from, or where I’d ideally buy?” Those second choices may be more affordable without a big geographic leap.

In cities especially, a short distance can have a big impact on prices, he says. “Dublin is very mixed in terms of neighbourhoods. You can find it very expensive and then down the road, you’re in an area where property is considerably less expensive. You could nearly get on a bike and cycle for 10 minutes and the price of a very similar house changes considerably.”

Identify your top priorities: Being clear about what it most important to you – and what is further down the list – can be another way of expanding your options. Russell suggests weighting the different elements you’re looking for in a location. “Get your pen and paper out, and list your must-haves in order of importance,” he says. “It’s no harm to consider your shopping list as to all the features of a potential property as well as the area, but also what the long term plan is.” Prioritising one or two very important elements and compromising on others could be a good route to finding more location possibilities.

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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