House-hunting hints for happy couples, from our experts.
The dos and don'ts when searching for your marital home, courtesy of Quintessentially Estates CEO, Penny Mosgrove.
DO look out for things you can't change.
"Focus on the bare bones and structure," says Penny, "if you're buying in central London, it's unlikely you'll be able to do much about them going forward. People get all het up about things they can alter, like a kitchen fit-out or the colours of the walls, when they should be looking out for what they can't change." Positive fundamentals include "lots of natural light, and west or south-facing windows." As green outlooks and outside space become ever sparser, then this is also something to consider.
DO take a good look around the area.
"If it's got good housing stock – Victorian, Georgian, Edwardian – and some greenery, then it's going to go up in value at some point in time," says Penny. "Take a look on Google Earth for a take on the whole area. What do other peoples' houses look like? Are there any basement conversions planned in the street? If you've got a Starbucks and a Waitrose that's a good sign – and if you've got specialist shops selling pianos or high-end foods, even better." Transport connections are especially vital. "The local authority is very unlikely to move the Tube stop – but there may be more planned for the future," Penny adds.
DO that thing where you knock on the walls.
"It is actually very worthwhile," advises Penny, " as in some of these Victorian houses, you can hear the neighbours. Conversions don't tend to have nearly as much soundproofing as a modern apartment."
Quiet in general is a good sign. "Stay away from busy roads and traffic. It's not good for your health, and you'll have buses and ambulances thundering past."
DO ask about any upcoming changes in the street.
Particularly when it comes to building works. "You could have a new build going up right next door and five years of construction hell, by which time you'll be eager to move up the ladder," says Penny. Keep your eyes peeled for emerging signs of popularity with the right sort of people: "Signifiers include wholefood shops, or Pilates and yoga studios" says Penny.
DON'T ignore the neighbours.
"Find out what's going on next door," says Penny, "Do they own? Are they renting? Are any developers doing projects in the building? If it's an Airbnb, it can be a nightmare as you'll have different, temporary neighbours from day-to-day."
DON'T blunder into a luxury new build.
There are certain aspects to modern premium blocks that require scrutiny. "Service charges are the killer," says Penny, " so ask if they have sinking funds that have accumulated over time for major issues, or you could be suddenly asked to cough up for a problem that's built up before your time. You'll get stung on service charges for a basement gym – pools in particular burn money."
DON'T be tempted by Notting Hill…
Unless you have the temperament for the search. "A big film related to a specific area transforms it. Notting Hill has become hugely popular among discerning individuals with a bit of cool. It's a bohemian enclave with beautiful Georgian housing, where you'll see rock stars and famous artists," says Penny.
Notting Hill properties have become their own 'bubble' even within the London market, apparently. "People don't leave, so there's not much stock. You need a representative - a specialist such as Quintessentially Estates - so you can have access to off-market stock or get in there quickly."
For insider knowledge and help in finding your dream property – on- or off-market - don't hesitate to contact the team at Quintessentially Estates