Lists of UK property search sites, rental search sites, mortgage comparisons, and sites to find information on your local area.
The biggest property sites
The best place to look for property are the large "aggregators" who bring together properties from large numbers of estate agents.
Try out each site to see which site offers the best coverage of your area.
Rental property specialists
What is the local area like?
Checkout the local area, find the Ofsted reports of local schools. See how the area compares to others around it. Is it a safe area, what is the proportion of rented property?
Visit the property at different times of the day and on different days of the week to see traffic patterns for yourself (is the area too quiet?).
What is the house worth?
Have a look at sites like NetHousePrices that provide access to the land registry and list how much houses sold for in that postcode or street:
Make sure you are comparing the property to similar properties. Search by street name too as postcode may only cover one side of the street and limit the sales information you see. View house prices on neighbouring roads.
Bookmarking property sites
Some sites aren't simple to bookmark property searches on (e.g. Prime Location and Foxtons). To avoid signing up to the site, you may be able to bookmark searches fairly simply. If your list of results contains multiple pages, click to the "Next Page", and then back to the "Previous Page". The page should then be bookmarkable (the URL may well contain numbers on your price limits etc.) .
Signing up to email alerts
After you have narrowed your search to an area you may want to sign up to property alerts (by phone, email or letter) from agents in your area so that you can react quickly to new properties. Phil Spencer from Channel 4's "Location, Location, Location" believes that it is very important to build good relationships with estate agents in your chosen area.
Estate Agents that aren't covered by the big property sitesSome estate agents (e.g. Foxtons) don't list on the large property sites, and you will have to bookmark or sign up to alerts for their site separately. As you look at properties in your chosen area, you may notice estate agents that aren't listed on the major sites.
Mortgages - how much would it cost?
Visit comparison sites to get a feel for how much money you can borrow, and how much it will cost you to buy (see the UK Finance page for other comparison sites).Kelkoo's mortgage category
Play around with the numbers, if you are able to increase your deposit, more mortgages may be available to you.
Don't forget to add moving costs, stamp duty, solicitors fees, arrangement fee valuation fee etc..
It may help when you make an offer if you have letter confirming your ability to obtain a mortgage for a suitable amount from a bank or mortgage advisor.
How much should I offer?
Depending on what you think the seller will accept you may want to offer less than the asking price. If the property has been on the market for many months, the seller may be more open to offers (perhaps more than 10%).
House buyers pay an average of 95.5% of the price asked by sellers (NAEA survey July 2005).
House prices can vary by as much as 4% (2% up or down) at different times of the year. Houses are most expensive in June when house buyers are at their most plentiful.
Property advice sites
Selling your house direct
There are a number of websites that allow you to list your house.
You should ask your friends for recommendations for solicitors who will do conveyancing (the legal work and searches behind moving house). Really Moving also offers quotes from solicitors that cover your area (who may contact you directly).
After you have had an offer accepted, you will probably want to send around a surveyor to confirm there are no problems with the building.
Really Moving provides instant and comparatively low quotes (who may contact you directly) for Home Buyer's Report (also known as a "Homebuyer's Survey and Valuation" or HSV) and Buildings Survey (formerly known as a"Structural Survey").
You may do better to phone up for quotes from local chartered surveyors registered with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), who have a searchable database of surveyors (searchable by postcode). A local surveyor may offer you a reasonable quote and be happier to spend time talking you through a property.