What’s on your home-buying checklist?

When you picture your first home it might have a massive garden, loads of parking and an interior that looks amazing on social. In reality you might have to make a few compromises, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a home that is right for you. It just means you need to have a clear idea of what’s important to you when it comes to your home-buying checklist so you can really focus your property search.

2019 research conducted by Skipton Building Society has revealed what’s important to first-time buyers when they’re looking for a home, and may provide some ideas about things you might want to include on your list.

Top 5 first-time buyer checklist

1. Good parking

40% of people said good parking was important to them. If the property you’re interested in doesn't have off-road parking, look for parking restrictions, keeping an eye out for ones that apply to specific vehicles like vans or lorries, and restrictions that change based on the time of day. Check the Highway Code for signs or road markings you’re not sure about.

2. A sunny garden

South-facing gardens are popular for sun worshippers because they get the maximum amount of sunlight. The seller should be able to tell you which way the property faces, but you could also find out for yourself with an app that acts as a compass.

3. Easy commute

One third of first-time buyers said an easy commute was top of their list. Do the public transport facilities serve the routes you want them to? You could also find out how long a driving commute might take by programming it into a digital map at rush hour.

4. En suite bathroom

An essential for some. A luxury for others. It might be a good area of compromise if you’re on the fence. There might even be potential to add your own later on.

5. Near good schools

Nearly a quarter said being near to good schools was essential. Just because good schools are close doesn’t necessarily mean your children will get a place. Go to reports.ofsted.gov.uk/ to check the probability of getting into different schools and how they rank.

Queue of students in academic gowns waiting to graduate.

Other things to think about


The crime rate can have an impact on the amount of home insurance you’ll have to pay, your car insurance and your ability to sell your property in the future. Police.uk will give you facts about crime rates in the area you’re looking at.

Flood risk

The level of flood risk can make home insurance very expensive and some insurers won’t insure at all if the risk is really high. It can also influence the property's future sale-ability. Check GOV.UK for flood maps in your area.


Extrium has an online tool that estimates the level of noise pollution. It’s worth visiting the property during morning and evening rush hours, later in the evening and on a Saturday to check how busy the road becomes or if it’s on a popular rat run.


You might be able to tell a lot about potential neighbours by looking at their houses. Talk to the person selling the property too. Ask if the neighbours are noisy, messy or if they throw parties.


Check your phone while you’re viewing the house to see how strong your signal is and check the strength of the broadband connection by using an online speed checker.

Man browsing the Internet on a tablet whilst drinking coffee.


Be sure to check how old the boiler is and whether it’s likely to need replacing soon. Test the water pressure by running the taps, and ask the seller if the pipes are insulated and if the radiators work effectively.


Ask the current occupant how much their council tax, water and energy bills are to help with your budgeting. You can also check the average utility costs for houses in your area at Money Supermarket.

Areas for improvement/renovation

Could you add value to the property with an extension or attic conversion? Ask the seller if the property already has planning rights.

The roof

Have a look for loose tiles on the roof and for wear and tear to chimneys, drains and guttering, especially if it’s an older property.

Charlotte Harrison, Head of Mortgages, Skipton Building Society

When you’re buying a home, it might be tempting to rush out and get that insta-worthy look, but pacing yourself financially is important. It might mean you initially have less left over for interiors – but that’s usually something that can be done over the longer term rather stretching yourself to get everything done at once.”

Charlotte Harrison, Head of Mortgage Products, Skipton Building Society

Download our home-buying checklist

You don’t even have to create your own home-buying checklist because we’ve created one that you can print off and take to viewings with you.

Home buying checklist [PDF]

We’re also here to help with any other questions you have about buying a home, from saving for a deposit through to queries about mortgages.

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