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The questions to ask when finding your ‘forever home’

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While some people are happy to gradually hop up the property ladder, others are ready to put down roots and find their ‘forever home’ that they can live in for a lifetime. From first-time buyers to mature families, all types of people are now looking to make their next property purchase their last.

However, it’s important to make sure that your home has the longevity to meet your needs over the course of many years – and to be able to accommodate unexpected changes in your lifestyle or circumstances. Below are some useful questions to ask yourself during your search for your dream forever home, to ensure it will stand the test of time.

Do I love this location?

The perfect home is more than just what’s within the bricks and mortar. The surrounding location matters just as much, if not more – because while you can make changes to a house, you can’t change where it’s situated.

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From peaceful countryside and open green spaces, to good transport links or a vibrant high street, everyone will want something different from their new neighbourhood. So it’s really vital to decide what you need before you start house hunting, so you aren’t swayed by a beautiful home in a location that won’t work for you and your family.

Young families might want to consider the property’s proximity to busy roads, and the amenities that are within walking distance, such as schools, shops and play areas. Whereas downsizers, couples, or families with teenagers might prioritise nearby bars and restaurants, or access to key commuter routes and public transport. Think long-term about what you need and want from your local community, and whether there are any ‘up and coming’ areas that you can consider relocating to before they become very popular.

Can it accommodate our lifestyle?

Think about the lifestyle you have, or the one you want to lead, and use this to make your forever home ‘wishlist’. If you love cooking and hosting dinner parties, an open-plan kitchen and dining space might be at the top of your priorities for your forever home. For those with larger families, additional facilities such as a downstairs cloakroom and an extra bathroom, and even a utility room or playroom, might be what you need.

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With increasing numbers of people making the move to remote working, including on a hybrid basis, having a quiet and private space that can be dedicated to working from home may be important to you too. That could be a study, a spare bedroom, or even identifying scope for a future garage or loft conversion if it isn’t something that you immediately need.

As for outdoor space, households with children or pets, or with plans to add them to the family, are likely to want to have a garden with plenty of space to run and play – but not necessarily one that will require a high level of maintenance. And if you have lots of equipment for hobbies, such as bikes, surfboards, tools, or home gym machines, you could need a garage to store it all safely.

Is there room to grow into?

Whether you’re planning to start a family, have growing children or are even considering setting up your own business, your forever home will need to have space for you all to grow into. That means good-sized bedrooms, enough bathrooms, and ample living and dining space that provides you with flexibility to adapt to your evolving needs. If the property doesn’t have this now, is there potential to change the internal layout, or could you extend upwards or outwards?

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Then there are other aspects such as whether the property has sufficient storage, and parking - not just for your family now but for visiting friends, and for your children when they are old enough to have their own cars. It can be important to consider unexpected future life changes too, such as an older family member moving in or a grown-up child returning home, and whether your home would be able to accommodate this.

Do I need to spend money on renovations or future improvements?

It’s really easy to get carried away with planning future home improvements, but as we see on virtually every episode of Grand Designs, our budgets don’t always line up with our expectations. So if you’re buying an older home, or period property with the intention of doing renovations, or adding an extension further down the line, it’s wise to have a financial plan for this from the outset. This might mean being more conservative with your mortgage, or holding back some savings, so you can access extra funds when you need them.

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There are other financial aspects to consider too, such as how energy efficient the property is, which can be identified by its energy performance certificate (EPC) rating. In the short term, a more energy-efficient home means lower utility bills, and in the long term, it means spending less on making improvements to your home to bring it up to standard.

Money considerations aside, renovations on your home can be incredibly disruptive, and you’ll need to think about how you would manage this. Would you need to move out of your property temporarily, and where would you go? How would this impact your children? If you can stay in your home, how can you ensure you’ll all be comfortable?

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It’s a lot to think about, which is why many people opt for a new build ‘forever home’. Brand-new properties are designed with contemporary family lifestyles in mind, and in many new build homes you’ll find highly-desirable features including cloakrooms, en-suite bathrooms and open-plan living spaces that are versatile in their purpose. Dedicated study rooms for home working, utility rooms, and even additional bathrooms and living spaces can be found in larger house styles – perfect for buyers thinking about the future, or with children who are increasingly needing their own space.

New build homes are constructed using the latest homebuilding technology and techniques to ensure that they are energy efficient, and are ready to move into and enjoy straight away, with no expensive repairs or upgrades required. Plus, with schemes such as Deposit Unlock and the new Track Record deposit-free 100% mortgage available to help you buy a new build property, it could be the most affordable choice for your forever family home.

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