Pick any forum or website with guidance on house hunting in London and they all say the same thing; start early – about 6 weeks before your proposed move date. I have to say that I agree with them entirely and that is precisely why Mo and I started our house hunt 6 weeks prior to our move.
We had already decided on where we wanted to live (2 or 3 areas in South East London). So I went to every agent that I could find through a simple google search and registered our information and intention to find a house / flat.
Of the 10 or so agents I registered with, we heard back from only 2 within the first two weeks. As the days turned to weeks and our move date drew closer, we started to panic and changed tactics to an online search.
Exactly two weeks to our move dates, all the agents started calling with flats and putting pressure on us to pay deposit for these flats – apparently they were going faster than the duration it was taking us to make up our minds. We eventually found a house that we love on Rightmove but after narrowly missing out on two others.
I am working on the assumption that you have already analysed and zeroed in on 3 areas that you do not mind living in.
Word of Mouth
Talk to other people, they may know someone moving, another with a property or they may be moving from their flat to a house or vice versa.
Residential Letting Agencies
It is advisable to register with property agents, usually 6 weeks prior to your move date. They are generally a more expensive but safer option to pursue. My best ones were Felicity J Lord and Life Residential. Most landlords with worthy properties are switching to agencies.
Check Gumtree,Rightmove, Zoopla, FindaProperty, PrimeLocation to mention but a few. I found out that most agents and landlords advertised on these websites in addition to their own websites and fliers.
Put up strategic posters at your local gym, library and church. Be sure to include your contact numbers and times when people should call.
Whatever method enables you to find your dream home, make sure that you arrange a viewing of the property before any money exchanges hands. you are better off safe than sorry.
Have a clear understanding of how much money you are ready to spend every month. Put into consideration the rent, utilities expenses, transportation costs, groceries shopping, entertainment e.t.c. If the house or flat that you choose enables you to fit in your financial comfort zone, do not hesitate to pay your deposit.
Ease of Access
Make sure you opt for a house with easy access to public or other transportation. Proximity to a station does not necessarily mean that the area will be noisy. It makes it easier for you to get to and from home.
If you have young children and / or pets, please ensure that you will not be inconvenienced by your new accommodation. Whichever place you choose should not restric your family life; however beautiful or convenient it may seem to be.