Buying a new home is exciting – and a little scary. It’s a big commitment after all. Maybe you already know exactly what you want and where it should be, but as with any major investment your head needs to play a part in the decision rather than be ruled entirely by your heart. Our checklist gives you some essential points to consider when viewing properties and deciding which one is right for you. Is ‘great renovation potential’ something you want? Some people love a house that needs work. Others buy one that’s a little run-down because it means they can get more for their money. But it’s important to be realistic about your abilities – not just your DIY skills, but how well you (and your family) will cope with a house in disarray, po

Buying a new home is exciting – and a little scary. It’s a big commitment after all. Maybe you already know exactly what you want and where it should be, but as with any major investment your head needs to play a part in the decision rather than be ruled entirely by your heart.

Our checklist gives you some essential points to consider when viewing properties and deciding which one is right for you.

Is ‘great renovation potential’ something you want?

Some people love a house that needs work. Others buy one that’s a little run-down because it means they can get more for their money. But it’s important to be realistic about your abilities – not just your DIY skills, but how well you (and your family) will cope with a house in disarray, possibly for long periods of time.

Consider whether the work that needs doing is worth the time and expense, and whether you’ll be ok with losing access to the kitchen, bathroom or wherever will be affected for a while. Finally, are you actually going to have the work done, or in five years will you still be promising yourself you’ll install a central heating system ‘soon’?

Does the location suit your lifestyle?

It’s easy to get caught up in an image. Perhaps you can see yourself in a picture-perfect country cottage in a remote village, but will it work?

If you can’t live without state-of-the-art technology or you need to work from home, the internet service needs to be fast and reliable. A miles-from-anywhere location might be less romantic in the depths of winter when you’re ferrying the children to their swimming lesson in the snow.

Conversely, a third-floor apartment in the city centre might not be the best choice if you’re the proud owner of several large dogs who need long and regular walks. Think carefully about whether a property will fit the way you live.

Check the practical stuff

When you imagine living in a house, there’s more to consider than how your sofa will look in front of the fireplace.

If you’ve got a wall-mounted, flat-screen television, is there a suitable place for it? Are there enough power sockets in the rooms? Check the water pressure in the sinks and showers, and make sure the garage is big enough for your car and anything you might need to store there. What about counter space in the kitchen for gadgets and food preparation? The little things – like having to get the toaster out a cupboard every time you want to use it – are those that will annoy you the most.

Think about running costs

Ask your estate agent or the current owners if you can see some gas and electricity bills. You need to have an idea how much it will cost to heat your new home in the winter and how energy-efficient it is. Check how the water bill is paid, too – water meters are becoming more common but many people still pay traditional rates. A couple will use a lot less water than a family with three young children, so work out which system is best for you or whether you can switch if you need to.

Size and storage

Will your furniture fit? A house is likely to be uncluttered when you view so it looks attractive to potential buyers, but when it’s yours you need to make sure there’s enough room for all your things.

Measure your largest pieces of furniture before you view, including height, and take a tape-measure with you when you go. You might decide you love the house but your beloved Welsh dresser won’t fit in the kitchen, but at least you’ll know and can decide whether the home is worth the sacrifice.

Are there enough cabinets in the kitchen, or will you need to invest in shelving for your books and DVDs? Don’t forget all those bits and pieces you’ve got stored in your attic or garage, either – is there somewhere for them to go?

Think long-term

If you’re a couple on your own, you might think a two-bedroom property is enough. But what if you decide to have a child, or children, and/or you need a home office? Is there room to grow?

Further down the line, if you’re already a family, can you adapt the house as you get older? Will it be suitable once you become a little less mobile?

If you’re hoping this will be your ‘forever home’, it’s important to consider how it will fit all the stages of your life.

How’s the neighbourhood?

Some people like to be surrounded by activity, while others prefer peace and quiet. It’s a good idea to visit the locality at different times of the day and evening, as well as at the weekend, to get a feel for how life might be in the area. This is especially important if you’re moving to a new place you don’t know well.

Other factors to consider might include public transport links, proximity of local schools and shops, and whether there are any community groups where you could make friends once you’ve moved in.