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A Guide To Buying A Property

There is an old adage amongst Estate Agents when it comes to buying and selling property… Motivation, Ability & Need but what does that really mean?… and what should you be considering when you’re looking to purchase a property yourself?

In this guide to buying a property we’ll work through the Motivation, Ability & Need adage and touch upon many of the elements and questions you’ll want ask yourself to help identify the properties which suit your requirements and the process you’ll embark upon in purchasing a property.

Let’s get started by breaking down Motivation, Ability & Need.


Considering and understanding what your motivation for moving is will help you identify the requirements you’re looking for in any potential properties you see and view. Everyone’s motivations will be different and indeed your own motivations for purchasing a property will vary throughout your lifetime.

Amongst your motivations you may consider items such as:

  • Wishing to get a foot on to the housing ladder.
  • Requiring extra / less space as your family has grown / shrunk.
  • Looking to move closer to your place of work and reduce your daily commute.
  • To gain better transport links.
  • Looking at school catchment areas.
  • Wanting to be in the City or Countryside due to personal / social preferences.

There are no right or wrong answers to what your personal motivations for purchasing a property are, but listing them out can be helpful in clarifying what it is you’re looking to achieve. Whilst you’re on with listing your motivations it may also be a good idea to arrange or group them in order of importance as well, this way you’ll know which motivations are the most key to you.


Looking at your ability to purchase a property will help identify the steps you need to take, help define some criteria for potential timescales along with the property value you may be able to look for. Items which may be considered in this section could include:

  • Do you have a property you need to sell? / Have you sold your property?
  • Are you able to live in temporary accommodation if you sell your current property?
  • Have you had any mortgage advice?
  • Do you have a deposit to put down for a mortgage?
  • Do you have children and do you need to consider their schooling arrangements?

Anything which may influence your ability to move should be itemised during this phase of consideration, again it’d be a worthwhile exercise to list them all out and then organise them into an order of which will have the greatest impact on your ability to purchase or move properties. By doing so you will be generate a list of items to you need to address in order to get you to where you want to be.


The final element is Need.  This is where you need to set out some specifics, what do you actually need from a property you’re looking to purchase. Once again your needs will be different form the next persons and equally they are going to change and be different throughout your lifetime. List them out just as with the previous two elements before arranging them in order of importance to you. Items to list here may include the following examples:

  • Number and size of bedrooms.
  • Off street parking / Garage.
  • A Garden area.
  • Within walking distance of a train or bus station with services to a certain location(s).
  • Within 30 minute commute to a place of work by any means.
  • Be within the catchment area of certain schools.
  • Have good dog walking facilities close by.
  • No more than a certain price.

Remember, these are your specific needs so be as concise as possible and rank your needs in order of importance. Other things may also spring to mind that you need for your own personal needs, like level access, or a ground floor bathroom, items which cannot easily be changed in a property.

Having completed the above process you should now have a comprehensive understanding of what you really require in a property and what it is you’re looking for. Using the information you can begin dealing with the items which need your attention such as selling an existing property, saving a deposit or beginning the mortgage application process.

Identifying Potential Locations

You can now begin to identify the locations which may be suitable for your property search by a process of using your criteria set out in the Need section. For example if one of your criteria is ‘Within walking distance of a train station with services to a certain location(s).’ start by identifying which train services access the specific location and then using a map follow each train line out to see where the stations are. You’ll have then identified a number a potential locations for your property search. Also look at eliminating areas that do not meet your requirements.

Research & Visit Identified Locations

Once you have identified a number of potential locations spend some time researching the areas online and physically visiting the them too. Have a good look around and get to know what amenities are on offer in the local vicinity bearing in mind the other criteria you have identified during your Motivation, Ability and Need exercise. Visit the locations at different times of day and on different days of the week to ensure you have a complete understanding of its characteristics and not just a snapshot that may not be completely accurate.

You can also easily find out plenty of information about specific locations by speaking to the local Estate Agents, a good Estate Agent should know all the local areas well and be able to inform you of everything you need to know. They may also be able to provide alternative areas which you haven’t identified yet or have even discarded which, in the Estate Agents experience, still offer the criteria you’re looking for.

Undertake some initial property searches using and These website filter properties in 3 ways – PRICE, POST CODE/AREA and NUMBER OF BEDROOMS so take these into consideration when searching. Contact local Estate Agents to gain an understanding of property prices in the area and whether or not you’ll be able to secure a property within your budget which also matches your ‘Needs’ in the identified locations.

Finding Properties In Your Identified Locations

With your identified locations researched and visited you’ll no doubt have narrowed them down to your preferred choices or at least identified which areas are preferable to you and most likely to enable you to find a property you would like to purchase. With that in mind you’ll want to keep on top of the properties available in your chosen areas.

There are a number of ways you can do this through regular searches on internet sites such and or set up property alerts – informing you of properties new to the market within your desired location, but one of the most effective ways is to speak with the local Estate Agents, inform them of your requirements and bring them up to speed with the ground work you have put in so far. By doing so you can gain an advantage over other perspective purchasers as your local Estate Agents are the first port of call for new sellers. If Estate Agents know you’re looking for particular requirements, and a property of that nature appears, they may be able to inform both the selling and buying parties that they have a potential match and you may well be able to secure a property before it is ever advertised on the open market.

Knowing Your Budget

It is important to know your budget when looking for properties and to be realistic about what is achievable; otherwise you run the risk of wasting precious time chasing properties which will end up being purchased by other buyers who have a greater budget resource to hand. There is nothing wrong with looking at properties which are slightly above your budget, but again be realistic by how much. There is normally always room for potential negotiation on sales prices but it is rare that significant reductions are found. The modern market place for property is highly competitive and that will always be the case whilst there is a general shortage of property in relation to housing needs.

Additional factors which will influence your budget will include:

  • Stamp Duties that may apply in relation to the value of any property you’re interested in.
  • Conveyancing or Solicitors fees.
  • Removals and Storage fees should you require such services.

Viewing Properties

When you find potential properties of interest you’ll naturally want to view them. Usually this would be done be arranging an appointment through the appropriate Estate Agent. Wherever possible you’ll want to view the property during the hours of daylight so you can get a good feel for its surroundings as well as its internal configuration and general feel.

Whilst viewing properties always try to look past the current decoration and personal belongings of the current occupiers, try to image how you and your family would utilise spaces, stand back and consider how you would decorate or arrange particular rooms to give your mind the best chance of visualising yourself in property.

As you’re looking around pay attention to the integrity of the property, do you see items that will need remedial work, are any remedial works likely to be expensive and how quickly does it appear they’d need completing?

One or two specific suggestions on items to look for:

  • Which way is South facing?
  • What’s the traffic like nearby?
  • Can you hear outside noise?
  • What are neighbouring properties like; are gardens kept in good order?
  • Is there spacing for parking your vehicles and for visitors?

Having had a good look around the property, both internally and externally, take the time to go away and process what you have seen. With a bit of time you will no doubt have thought of additional items you want to check out and missed on your initial visit. There is always a lot to take in for just one viewing so note any missed item and thoughts down as you think of them to ensure you don’t forget them later on.

If the property is still of interest to you, having given yourself ‘time to sleep on it’, arrange a second visit preferable at a different time of day and also on a different day of the week or weekend. Return to the property with your list of queries and items you’ve since thought of. Once again have a thorough look around. Properties often look different second time around, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, but having viewed the property a second time you should now have a good appreciation of whether it’s what you’re looking for.

You’ve Found the Property You Wish to Buy…

When you’ve identified a property you’d like to make an offer for you’ll need to contact the sellers Estate Agent, first of all however you’ll want to consider how much you wish to offer which will lead you to a number of factors.

How much do you offer?

Obviously the amount you wish to offer is your decision however it has to be agreeable to the property owner who, more than likely, will be guided by their Estate Agent who is employed to act in their best interest.

The Asking Price may have an indication as to the sellers expectations, they may have attached to the actual figure statements like:

  • ‘Offers In The Region Of’
  • ‘Offers Over’
  • ‘Fixed Price’
  • ‘Guide Price’

These attachments to the price may suggest that the owner is willing to negotiate or may not negotiate from the asking price. Everyone wants to get the best deal for themselves so be aware of the seller’s circumstances:

  • Do they want a quick sale?
  • Have they found another property?

This may also affect their decision regarding an acceptable offer.

Having considered the above points you should be now be able to settle on a figure you wish to offer for the property. Be realistic with the value you settle on if it is below the asking price, negotiations do take place on properties but it is rare to easily find huge savings on the asking prices nowadays.

Making an Offer

When you’re ready to make an offer you’ll need to contact the Estate Agent marketing the property to officially lodge it. Usually this can simply be done over the phone or by calling in at their office. The Estate Agent is likely to ask you one or two questions to establish additional information which may be relevant to the seller. Things they may typically ask are;

  • Do you have a property to sell?
  • Are you dependent upon the sale of that property to purchase?
  • Which agent have you sold through?
  • Is the chain complete?
  • Do you have the finances in place to purchase at the price you have offered? They may well ask for proof of funds, i.e. an agreement in principle from your lender, proof of your deposit amount, proof of cash if you are not dependent on raising a mortgage.
  • Solicitor/Conveyancer details – who will be acting on your behalf?
  • They will also ask your details – Who is purchasing the property? Your address? Contact details?

This is not the Agent being nosey! They need to gather as much information as possible to put an offer to the owner.

With your offer lodged the Estate Agent will contact the seller and present your offer to them, the seller will either make a decision there and then or take some time to mull it over before feeding back their decision to the Estate Agent and in turn back to you. Depending upon the circumstances of both parties at this stage negotiation may commence until a price can be agreed or alternatively you may wish to make no further offers.

Once an offer is accepted

Once you have had an offer accepted you’ll need to instruct your conveyancer or solicitor to act on your behalf to oversee the legal elements of the transaction and to undertake all the necessary searches that need to be done, as will the seller. The Estate Agent will produce a notification of sale which is sent to both parties and their legal representatives detailing the agreed sale price and any conditions.

You will need to arrange your finances, if you are getting a mortgage contact your supplier whether that be directly with a lender or through a mortgage advisor, they will talk you through the next steps and arrange the survey. If you are purchasing without a mortgage you may wish to have an independent survey carried out on the property.

Exchange and Completion

Your legal representative will contact the seller’s legal team to arrange a contract they will make enquiries about anything that comes up on the deeds, the searches and survey and further negotiation may need to take place. This process does take time but regular updates can be provided by both agent and solicitor/conveyancer so everyone is aware of the progress.

Once the Legal Teams are in a position to exchange contacts a date will be suggested and agreed where you will be required to sign the contract and pay any agreed deposit, finances will be put in place, final checks will be carried out and a completion date will be agreed.

On Completion the Agent will await instruction from the seller’s solicitor/conveyancer to release keys.

The whole process of buying and selling houses may seem extremely daunting however by choosing an experienced Estate Agent and Solicitor/Conveyancer the process does run smoothly, remember they do this every day and are there to help.


If you need any advice or help with your search for a property throughout the Aire Valley, or even beyond, then please feel free to contact our team at Alan Slater Property Services who will always be more than happy to help in any way we can.


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