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Online House Hunter: Dealing with the little problems

Alan Cleaver
houses2 300x200 Online House Hunter: Dealing with the little problems

Find your perfect home with the help of the online house hunter

BUYING a house can be the biggest decision you’ll make – but it’s often the little things that matter. Scruffy streets, noise and anti-social behaviour or just a lack of parking can deter someone at the last moment from spending tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Whether you’re looking at a house for sale in Pimlico or a flat in Finchley, the broken street light or pile of rubbish could make you hesitate from putting a signature on the dotted line.

If you’re looking to sell your home, that can mean putting pressure on the council or neighbours to get those problems fixed. And if you’re looking to buy a house it means taking time to study the minutiae of websites such as police.uk or fixmystreet which can reveal hidden nightmares you would rather do without.

Of course nothing beats visiting the area yourself – and visiting it at all times of day and night. The house may look delightful at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon but what’s it like at 3am on a Sunday morning? Are the licensing hours on the pubs and takeaways being rigorously enforced by police and council?

The police.uk website caused a certain amount of controversy when it started but remains as a useful but rough guide to crime in a given area. The data needs to be interpreted with caution – one rogue pub or street corner can distort the image for the whole postcode. It details the number of crimes in the past month or months and breaks them down into burglaries, robbery, vehicle crime, anti-social behaviour etc. More importantly it will let you know the crime level for that area compared with the rest of the country.

Mysociety.org runs the website fixmystreet and a number of other social initiatives. Fixmystreet is aimed at giving frustrated residents a chance to moan about anything from potholes, broken street lights or ‘higgledy piggledy pavements’. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the minutiae of a given street and might just flag up an ongoing problem with your potential new home. More importantly, for those trying to sell a home who have been unable to get a problem sorted, it provides another way of putting leverage on the council.

And for those looking for the perfect home, Purbeck in Dorset would seem the ideal place having had no problems reported!

Websites such as these are no substitute for visiting the street yourself but they can throw up some pointers to watch out for.

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