House-hunting checklist: when should you compromise?

Think of property-buying as a series of mini-negotiations. Nearly every house-hunter draws up a list of ‘must haves’ that need to be ticked to find their dream home. But what should buyers be prepared to compromise on and what is regarded as non-negotiable?


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Here is our mini-house-hunting checklist, based on years of experience in helping buyers find new homes.

What should you compromise on?

1. “It must be in a particular street or borough.” Notwithstanding the old ‘location, location, location’ mantra, we always advise buyers to be open-minded when considering where they want to live.



2. “The home must come in under budget.” We hesitate to recommend profligacy but, in our experience, buyers who insist that they can afford £X “and not a penny more” do worse in the property market than buyers who are prepared, in certain circumstances, to find an extra £5,000 or £10,000 to secure the right property.

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3. “It must be ready to move into straight away.” Many busy professionals naturally dread the hassle of home decoration and DIY. But if you only look at ‘turn-key’ properties, you could miss out on a gem, which, with a little work, could be perfect for your needs.

4. “The property needs three/four/five bedrooms.” Most properties have greater flexibility than many people realise when it comes to arranging the interior. It can often be better to look at the overall floor space than simply add up the number of bedrooms.

5. “The property must have off-street parking.” Parking is at such a premium in London that buyers only prepared to look at properties with garages risk missing out on some real bargains.

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1. “I must be in a neighbourhood with good amenities and a community feel.” Be flexible about areas, but never compromise on

neighbourhoods. If you get a bad feeling about a neighbourhood or borough, for whatever reason, look elsewhere.

2.“Must be a sound long-term financial investment.” Property is a long game, so only consider properties that make sense in investment terms.

3. “It must have a decent-sized kitchen/living-room.” Bedrooms and bathrooms are secondary. The hub of a home for many people will always be the kitchen and/or living-room. Make sure it is large enough for your family’s needs.

4. “The property must be close to good schools.” If you have children of school age, their needs should obviously be paramount. Don’t try to wing it by buying property outside the catchment area of your preferred school, then come up with a plan to get in the school later. Think long-term to ensure you have more options down the line.

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5. “It must be within reasonable commuting distance of work.” Over-long commutes can be the cause of endless stress and misery, so don’t risk them. It is better to live in a second-choice area, so you can walk, cycle or spend less commuting to work on the Tubes.






• Contact Kay & Co estate agents for details of properties for sale or to rent in Marylebone, Bayswater, King’s Cross, Paddington, Notting Hill, Mayfair, Hyde Park, Fitzrovia, Regents Park, Paddington and The West End (020 7262 2030; Kay & Co).

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