How to find your dream London home


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When it comes to your next home, what do you really dream of? Do you want space, the perfect location or a view across the city?

Your essential must-haves when hunting for a new home will always be personal to you. Fortunately, with so many different apartments in London, your dream one will be out there somewhere. It’s just a matter of finding it.

1. List your criteria

Before you do anything, make a list of criteria that you want from your dream home. Split into “must haves” and “nice to haves”. At this stage, there’s no wrong answers and you shouldn’t discount anything.

Take your time and think about what really matters to you. This is the first step towards building your list of priorities.

Think of:

  • The outside space afforded with a home outside central London
  • The views promised by a city centre apartment
  • The vibrancy of areas like Bethnal Green, Shoreditch or Camden
  • The green, village feel of areas such as Hampstead or Dulwich
  • The food on offer in Borough or Brixton

2. Be realistic

Now’s the time for the red pen. Yes, we’re talking about a dream home, but you must have a sense of realism. Look at your budget and think about what you simply can’t do without and what isn’t necessarily a deal breaker.

At the end of this process you’ll have a good idea of your realistic priorities. Being honest with yourself at this stage and balancing dreams vs. reality will ensure you can approach your search critically and ultimately end up with a property that ticks the dream boxes.

3. Don’t just rely on what you think you want

So now you have a list of what you really want from your dream home, and it’s achievable within your budget. But rather than just relying on what you think you want, it’s time to get out and test drive it.

If you think one area is top of your location list, spend some time there, do as the locals do and really try and get under the skin of the place. If the commute to work looks good from one location, jump on public transport and test it out. If you think you’ll enjoy the community feel of a specific neighbourhood, look for any local events and give them a try. You’ll only truly know through experience.

4. Be conscientious

Dreams don’t just fall into your lap; you need to help make them happen. And it’s the same with finding your dream home. With so many apartments in a variety of areas in London, you need to put the hours in to find the perfect one.

Develop a viewing strategy, write lists and always pay attention to the small details of all the properties you view.

5. Don’t be afraid to move quickly

If you get that feeling the minute you step through the front door. If the butterflies come and you can visualise yourself there, then it could be the right one.

Things move fast with the London property market, so it’s important you give yourself the opportunity to act quickly. Before viewing anywhere make sure you’ve met with an independent mortgage advisor to ensure the property falls within your available budget.

While not always essential or a guarantee of getting a mortgage, it’s often a good idea to have a mortgage in principle when making an offer – many sellers feel this gives them an added layer of security. If you wish to purchase with the assistance of London Help to Buy, always check the property is available through the scheme.

If it feels right, you’ll want everything in place to make your move.

6. But not too quickly

However, you will still need to do your due-diligence. Go back for a second viewing, measure everything up accurately and visit at different times of day to make sure it really is the right property for you.

If it still feels right, you know what to do.

7. Make it your dream home

The right home on its own can’t make a dream a reality. Once you’ve made an offer, been through the completion process and finally have the keys, it’s up to you to make it your dream home. Take your time and run through interior design ideas, deciding what’s important to you.

This could include getting the colour scheme right, choosing low-key or statement furniture, opening the space up with a well-placed mirror, bringing a little texture in, or simply creating a relaxing theme in your bedroom.

The whole process of moving to a new home, whether renting or buying, can be tiring, stressful and complicated. Just make sure you don’t lose sight of your dream home and it will all be worthwhile.