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Online House Hunter: Top Ten bookmarks

Alan Cleaver
bookmark 300x225 Online House Hunter: Top Ten bookmarks

Your property websites are already bookmarked for you

WHETHER you are starting out on the property ladder and looking for your first home or looking to move house then you’ll find the internet can be a big help.

I’ve featured many ‘bookmarked’ websites over the last few weeks but here’s a quick run-down of the top ten that should be on any house-hunter’s Favourites.

FIRST STEPS

A GOOD property search engine is a must and you’ll forgive me if I recommend our own! (others property search engines are available…). Whichever search engine you use make sure you get the most out of it. Check out any email alerts that can be sent as soon as a property becomes available so you’ll be first in the queue for that dream home for sale in Dunstable or a des res for sale in Dulwich.

Brush up on the basic information about the whole process of buying or moving house by visiting such sites as Directgov. It will give you background on the law, the finances and the pitfalls of either buying or renting property.

ESTATE AGENTS

MOST people will favour buying or selling their home through an estate agent and while we joke about their popularity (just one place above journalists on the PR league table) the majority of transactions go through without a hitch. Check out the National Association of Estate Agents which is currently introducing a licence for agents in the UK.

The Property Ombudsman website includes a Code of Practice for estate agents (and landlords) abut the Ombudsman emphasises he is not a regulator or consumer guardian. In his words: “My powers allow me to make awards of compensation for financial loss and/or ggravation, distress and inconvenience, where I feel that is appropriate. The service is free of charge for the public.”

NEW HOMES

THE mortgage lenders may not love new homes quite as much as first-time buyers but perhaps the newly-announced FirstBuy scheme will help. The government-led scheme will offer a 20 per cent loan to top up first-time buyers’ own deposit of 5 per cent enabling them to take out a 75 per cent mortgage. Details are yet to be ironed out but ask your new-home builder or estate agent to keep you informed. It should start to roll out in September.

YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD

YOU’VE decided where you want to live – how do you find out about the neighbourhood. There’s a lot to think about including how you’ll get to work and where the local schools are. Then there’s the doctors, dentist etc to sort out. These links will point you in the right direction:

SELLING YOUR CURRENT HOME

IF you’re moving house you’ll need to know how much your current house is worth and how to go about selling it. Commercial sites such as houseprices.co.uk will tell you at a glance the potential value of your home. The Land Registry is the official source for data on how much houses sold for in your neighbourhood but is not as user-friendly as some of the commercial ones. And checkout Theadvisory for the some good common sense practical advice on selling your home.

THE GREEN FACTOR

HOW green is your home? It’s an important consideration to many house-movers. Energy performance certificates are supposed to help house-buyers make a green decision but most admit to being confused by the information. Find out from directgov what these certificates mean and how to interpret them. And learn from ActonCo2 what you can do to improve your green rating in your old home or your new one.

SORTING OUT A MORTGAGE

THERE are a number of mortgage calculators online to help you work out what mortgage you will need, what schemes are available and what the repayments will be like. Directgov has a good general introduction.

And finally, you’ll find my house-hunting bookmarks publicly available on Google.

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