‘Househunting’. Urgh. Even the word strikes fear into the heart of anyone who’s faced with the task of finding somewhere new to live. Hours of rifling through ads on the internet. Endless trudging from one end of town to another, a movie montage of of nos, more nos and more than a few of ‘are you kidding me’.

Most of us will already have busy lives; jobs, studying, families, pottery classes. So how the heck are you supposed to find somewhere to live when you can barely find time to call your mum? In this article we show you how to minimise the pain of finding new digs. We’ve even done you a handy little viewing checklist to save you even more time. Nice aren’t we?

Budget

Until the day money grows on trees, it’s essential to know your incomings and outgoings so you can figure out what you can afford on rent; a rule of thumb is that rent should be about 25% of what you take home in a month. Then search according to that budget. Don’t be scared to go a little over; you can always try to negotiate down.

Time

Know what you want, where you want it and by when. Your new pad needs to fit your life, so draw up a shortlist of ‘essentials’ and ‘preferreds’. Don’t forget to include transport links, parking, proximity to shops and other aspects that are important to you, do you want a garden, for instance?

Be clear on when you can take up the space; what’s the ideal AND the earliest/latest date, in case you find the one that ticks all the boxes. These dates may not be the same, so you may need to get creative with storage and finances if you find the perfect pad.

Search tips

We recommend looking when you won’t be interrupted. You need to set time aside when you’re at your best, if you’re not a morning person, don’t compound the horror of getting up by doing it even earlier to slave at the computer. If you greet the morning with a skip and a smile, though, try getting into the office an hour earlier for some hardcore househunting online.

Build a shortlist

With our site, you can build a shortlist at a click of a button, using the ‘bookmark’ feature.

For the socially savvy, you can get opinions from your friends on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ direct from the site. Clicking on the ‘Like’ or other buttons will share a link to the property you’re viewing.

The bookmark link in the menu takes you to a neat comparison page, where you can refine your options further. Remember; it pays to be ruthless, so dig out that ‘essential/preferred’ list.

Build rapport with your contacts

However busy and harassed you are at work or home, try not to let this bleed into your phone conversations. If you’re talking to a letting agent, rapport building is important if you want to be remembered.

Try to strike a balance between qualifying the property and making it sound like the third degree. Ask them their name, use it back to them, make them laugh. Chances are they’re just as busy as you dealing with stressed househunters. If you strike the right balance, it’ll set you in good stead for negotiations on price and move in dates, etc.

Before you dial, be clear what you want to say if you have to leave a voicemail. It’s a great time to make a first impression, and by ‘good impression’, we mean not forgetting your own mobile number.

Stay organised

Set aside blocks of time to do your viewing, it allows you to easily compare properties. Make sure you keep a diary of appointments, whether that’s in your email calendar, or a notebook. Don’t scribble names and contact details on pieces of paper. You’re guaranteed to lose at least one.

When you go to the property, have a checklist handy so you can compare and contrast the different properties and the criteria they do (or don’t) fill. Though not exhaustive, we’ve created one for you here. No need to thank us. We know we’re awesome.

Treat is as a priority

Getting hammered on a Friday night when you have a day packed with viewings on a Saturday does not constitute ‘prioritising’. Yes, you still need to have a life, but for the time being, some stuff will have to take more of a backseat.

Have a day off from it all though. It’s no good cramming every evening and all weekend with viewings. It’s hard to maintain perspective and objectivity when you’re stressed and tired. The last thing you want to do is take on a property just because you’re sick of looking.

Step back and take stock

Have a review every week. How is it going? If nothing’s suitable, ask yourself why. Is the location too expensive? Are you being too stringent with your ‘essentials’ list? Are you looking too early? Try another search on our site, but with a different area or price range. You never know what might pop up in the search results!

Got any advice or other tips for effective househunting? Leave us a comment below!

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