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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

How To | Find A Flat

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I’m no pro at flat hunting but having gone with both friends and most recently for myself, I thought I’d pull together my top tips of finding your dream pad.

Be realistic
A penthouse with a pool - sounds fantastic right? But can you afford it? If the answer’s no, stop looking at it. Believe me, I know how tempting it is to put ‘no max budget’ on those filter sliders but this ain’t no cribs. If you’re moving in with someone else agree a budget of what you both/all can afford. Most places won’t come with bills included (those fab uni days are a distant memory) so you’ll need to leave some money in the pot for that, so take that into consideration.

Location, location, location
Location really can be key and is something that influenced my move massively. I wanted to be close enough to be able to walk to work but far enough so that it felt that I could ‘get away’ from it too. Location will also affect the cost of an apartment - hence why you’ll need a fair few £s to live in central London or slap bang in Manhattan (Carrie Bradshaw you’ve got a lot to answer for!).

Take photos
If you’re viewing lots of different places, take photos. When you’re narrowing down your top five they’ll all start blending into one. You might feel weird snapping away in front of the estate agent but you’ll hardly see them again so if it’s the difference between you landing a flat or not - do it. It’ll also help you when you move in in terms of remembering what furniture you’ll need and if the colour scheme you were going to go with fits in with the style of the apartment.

Ask questions
People always say to me there’s no such thing as a stupid question and whilst I don’t completely agree, I do agree with the principal. Renting a flat is costly and is a commitment so go with a list of questions ready. For me I refused to take any contracts higher than 6 months so that was always one of the first questions I asked. Everyone has there ‘must-haves’ and a line they won’t cross, so know where your boundary is.

Check out the area
If you already are familiar with the area - great. If not - take a look around. What’s on your doorstep? What are the transport links like? Does it look safe? As I keep saying, with a contract you’re tying yourself down to (usually) a minimum of 3-6 months which is both a short and long time at the same time - so spend some time in the area to get to know it.

Speak to friends and colleagues who live there
Estate agents are paid to sell a property to you and whilst they can’t downright lie to you - your friends and colleagues will give you a more rounded and honest view of the area and/or development you’re looking at. I was quite lucky in that I had worked in the area for 2 years before moving so was familiar with it and my colleague had lived in my complex before. One thing I had underestimated was the noise of the Canadian Geese. Now, I like animals like most people, but I now have a strong hatred towards these fellas.

Be proactive
Property moves SO fast and is something I massively underestimated. I’ve seen flats come on the market and go within an hour so be on it. Don’t email estate agents as they probably won’t respond and calling them is much quicker and proves your interest. Refresh property websites and regularly ring round estate agents to see if any new flats that have been added onto their portfolio. They want to get rid of the property just as much as you want to rent/buy it, so it’s a mutually beneficial relationship to have.

Embrace technology
Download apps, refresh property websites several times a day and sign up for new property bulletins. Save a search on right move so that properties that match your needs come directly into your inbox, saving you the time of searching.

More is more
Book lots of viewings. Sometimes properties may look great on the site and then not so great when you get there or maybe a flat hasn’t been put across in the best light in photos but in real life has that wow factor. Basically just try and see as many as possible. It’ll help you narrow down what you like and don’t like and will also give you a well rounded view of what the market is like, what’s value for money and what you can expect to pay. You’ll know when you walk in somewhere if it feels right, so whilst I do say ‘more is more’, when you get that feeling, make your move - because as I’ve said, property moves so fast that you’ve got to be in it to win it.


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