Looking for somewhere to live is far harder than I realised it ever would be. The last time I looked was back in around 2007, if my memory serves, and it felt easier then.
Perhaps my view is slightly rose-tinted – a lot happens in 11 years to blur the experience you go through – but it certainly seemed easier.
Now, however, things are more interesting. In the past couple of weeks alone, I’ve probably looked at a dozen or so properties, with varying degrees of fascination. The different degrees of quality have caught me by surprise; I mean, if I had had people looking round a property I owned and / or lived in, I’d want them to see its best side.
So a few hints for potential landlords / sellers who want someone to take on their property;
- Don’t have wallpaper that’s hanging off the wall. Have the decency to do a bit of decoration.
- Ditto paint that’s flaking or badly stain with nicotine from ceiling to floor.
- Ditto carpets / wooden floors that have been covered with suspicious-looking stains.
- Sort out the damp that pervades the bathroom, both bedrooms, and lounge. It was awful, I promise.
- Price it right. Don’t price a small two-bed flat far beyond its actual limit; people viewing it will soon see beyond the price and not be willing to pay beyond their means for something that’s not worth it.
- Have an agent that knows what it’s talking about. Don’t send someone along that can’t answer even the most basic questions – What work is going to be done beforehand? What’s the landlord’s name? Are they responsive to issues that come up? It gets embarrassing after the fourth or fifth “I don’t know.” Actually, it’s embarrassing after the first one, especially if they don’t understand why you’re embarrassed for them.
- Know something about the plumbing and the boiler. Is the heating in decent working order? Is it serviced on a regular basis? When I visited on flat, the tenants had left a full-size fridge freezer about six to eight inches in front of the boiler permanently – for quite some time, as it turned out, and the agent didn’t seem worried about. As it turned out, no checks had been done on the property over the past two years of the existing tenancy, and that – combined with a general feeling of disrepair and decrepitude – convinced me not to give this place a second thought.
- When you arrange a viewing, try not to cancel twenty minutes before the viewing when time is precious and you could easily be viewing a different place enough. Or, even better, try and least turn up; twice I’ve been stood-up whilst waiting on the doorstep of properties, and I’ve found myself getting rather cross – especially when my enquiries about what’s happening are either ignored or barely acknowledged without even an apology.
So, whilst I’m still looking, I’m also becoming more discerning as well. I have a vague notion in my head as to what I want, but I know even more what I don’t want, the more I look and the more I see. Perhaps I suspected I’d find somewhere a lot more quickly, but I realise that I’d rather take the time and find the right place than take just anything.
Here’s to the search!