When you’re ready to make a trip to the United Kingdom to view property, Britain’s hard-working estate agents will be ready to welcome you and viewing property in the UK is super-easy. Read our tips on making the most of a viewing trip, including when to come, how to get around and what to bring with you.
Buying property in the UK is not difficult. Buying costs are far lower than many other countries, and intense competition among agents tends to mean that service is good. Moreover, Britain has a vast amount of data and information to check before you even come. With Google Maps you can even check out the neighbourhood from any smartphone or computer anywhere in the world.
The UK has a huge amount of information that you can easily access to check over an area. That includes data on property prices and trends. Rightmove is a terrific source if information too, not just for finding the property but covering how to buy a property here too. The government website gov.uk gives very clear information on many aspects of property and life in the UK and is very easy to read if English is not your first language.
The price on the property details is the one you will pay, apart from the relatively small buying costs such as for a lawyer, a surveyor and for stamp duty. But while the risks of buying UK property are very low, with a good lawyer, currency risk is one that you will need to take steps to avoid. With exchange rates changing every minute of the day, you will never know what the final cost will be unless you lock in your rate. Speak to a trader at Smart Currency Exchange to see how you can secure your exchange rate once you have agreed a price.
When to come
British estate agents may not need qualifications, but intense competition means that they do tend to work very hard. Even so, while few estate agents will work on Sundays, most will work on Saturday mornings, if not all day. Normal office hours in the UK are 9 to 5 or 6, but within big cities you’ll often find that agents will work evenings too. These will tend to be the pushier agents though, so be prepared!
Agents won’t work UK bank holidays, although these are quite few and far between outside of springtime. They may also close over the Christmas period.
Getting to viewings
For traveling long distances, Briton is a small and relatively crowded country, so you may not expect to get around as quickly as in other countries. Trains are usually best for traveling between towns, but do plan your trip in advance using the National Rail app. Be especially aware of the high price of single fares and the risk of “rail replacement” buses at weekends. If viewing properties in different location, a car will usually be essential. Plan your route using a service such as Google Maps, which are pretty accurate.
Once in a town, the estate agent will normally take you around in his or her car. If not, any town of 10,000-or-so and over will have a good taxi service. You can find a taxi rank outside a railway station. Uber operates in most big cities.
Take a friend
Take someone with you. First-time viewings may be quicker done solo; but for second viewings, having a second set of eyes to see the things you miss through your rose-tinted spectacles can provide a valuable dose of reality.
Your estate agent can provide you with statistics relevant to the areas you are interested in, and can give you a driving tour. Visiting locations at different times of day and walking the neighbourhoods can give you some valuable details: traffic volume, noise levels, safety, friendliness of neighbours, upkeep of properties and evidence of children or pets—all factors that may influence your choice.
Recreation and necessary amenities
If you have young children, schedule visits to schools or day-cares. Some will require an appointment, so call ahead. Check out the shops and recreation facilities in the area within walking or driving distance of your chosen location. In order to take everyone’s needs into account, it’s a good idea to make a list of the things that are important to both you and the people you will be moving with. You may also like to draw up a wish list of wants that, if available, could turn out to be the icing on the cake that seals the deal.