Homeowners share their property search dealbreakers

It’s important to go to property viewings knowing exactly what you want – and don’t want – from a home (Picture: Getty Images / iStockphoto)

Purchasing a home can be stressful, but there’s the light at the end of the tunnel; that moment when you get the keys and breathe a sigh of relief, ready to settle in to your brand new place.

To ensure that moment isn’t tinged with buyer’s remorse, it’s important to get the right property for you – and that isn’t always simple.

With listings marked as sold before you’ve even had a chance to inquire (not to mention the bidding wars and negotiations) you can get caught up and miss details trying to bag something, anything, in your price range.

That’s why dealbreakers are a good thing to set before this process, pulling you back to earth when you get carried away and stopping you making decisions in haste that you later regret.

But what makes a good non-negotiable factor in a property?

Would it harm your chances of getting on the ladder to insist on a garden? Will estate agents scoff at your request for a mold inspection?

We spoke to homeowners about their dealbreakers on the property hunt, finding out where they had to compromise and whether they ended up with their dream home.

If anyone knows what to look out for, it’s those who’ve experienced the rollercoaster ride of getting on the property ladder.

Diane Ivory, 57, bought in Norfolk in 2014

‘Experiences in previous houses have created a list of “must haves” for me.

‘Upstairs bathroom. Light filled rooms (I lived in a beautiful listed cottage before, but the windows were small and it was very dark inside). Garage / storage space. Sunny garden – people tell me how lucky I am to have a south facing garden.

‘There was no luck to it. I house hunt with a compass! ‘

Realtor Showing Hispanic Couple Around New Home

Don’t get caught up in estate agent spin and end up buying a home that doesn’t suit your needs (Picture: Getty Images / iStockphoto)

Natalie Morris, 33, bought in London in 2021

‘When we were house hunting we had some big dealbreakers as a couple that we really didn’t want to compromise on.

‘Firstly, we knew we wanted outdoor space. After spending all of lockdown in a one-bed flat with no balcony or garden we vowed we would never live anywhere without outdoor space again.

‘On a similar note, we needed a second bedroom. It didn’t necessarily need to be big enough to be an actual bedroom, but we had to have an additional space for working and more storage for our books and work materials.

‘My own personal dealbreaker was that we had to have a bath. We looked at lots of places with lovely bathrooms with modern walk-in showers, which look great – but I love a bath and couldn’t live without one.

‘We stuck to all of our dealbreakers and we are now delighted with our little two bed flat, we have a huge shared garden, an office room with a sofa bed for guests, and a bathroom with a bath.’

Jen Parker, 36, bought in Market Harborough in 2020

‘I needed my own office space. Having worked at the desk in my bedroom for years, I needed my own space to allow me to better ‘switch off’ at the end of the working day.

‘We ended up getting a home with an office space for me, plus separate office space for my husband so he can work from home more too.’

Scott Dixon, 53, bought in Edinburgh in 2014

‘It’s eight years to the day I viewed my dream home which ticked all the boxes – a one-bedroom flat with a John Lewis kitchen, private sunny garden, off-road private parking in a quiet cul-de-sac less than two miles from Princes Street in Edinburgh.

‘It was offers over £ 126k and I paid £ 139k cash, no mortgage – now valued at over £ 170k.

‘One compromise was space, but I have utilized the garden with electric to the shed and storage units.’

Candice Quinn, 39, bought in Northwood in 2018

‘We had some non-negotiables: a large, flat south facing garden for our kids, a period home and walking distance to the train / tube station into London.

‘This meant we had to give up the dream of moving to Harpenden or Berkhamstead and stay put in Northwood. We had to compromise on the size of our house but we’re happy with our home. ‘

Woman unpacking moving boxes

A garden is important for many people, providing space for kids to play and adults to entertain (Picture: Getty Images / iStockphoto)

Kirsty Devine, 36, bought in Halifax, in 2014

‘We had a few things in mind, but the main one was I needed space to run my business, Simply Divine Things, from home. Certainly the main room I worked in was the main selling point to us as it was perfect.

‘A garden was also a necessity as our previous home didn’t have one, and we wanted a specific area with our parents living at opposite ends of the county.

‘We also didn’t want an old house as the upkeep of our old house was nigh on impossible to keep on top of.

‘We didn’t realize when we were buying that we would have preferred a much bigger kitchen and a garage. Fortunately we were able to extend and it gave us both of those things.

‘I really thought when we bought our current property it was our dream house and would be our forever home. I still love the house, and there are a couple of things I would now prefer to have, like a utility room, but I don’t run my business from home anymore, and we would prefer to get a smaller house within a quieter location as we are next to a road that is busier than we would like.

‘Hindsight is wonderful though, and we got an absolute bargain when we bought. I think whenever you buy a house, you are always finding things that you would like to have at a later date. Sometimes you can create those things, sometimes you just put up with it, or sometimes you just end up moving. ‘

Vicki Weinberg, 40, bought in Tonbridge in 2016

‘Our dealbreakers were a good size garden for the kids and walking distance to everything, as my husband is unable to drive due to a medical condition.

‘It ended up being a compromise to fit our budget, as while the house delivered on all of the above it’s on a busy road (not ideal) and we bought from a developer.

‘The house looked great on the surface, but many, many things went wrong that didn’t show up on the survey – dodgy plumbing, for example.’

Amanda White, 66, bought in Bristol in 1995

‘I always had a list when buying, being fully aware that you usually get only nine out of ten of them.

‘I wanted original features / fireplaces / cornice / doors etc and a decent garden. I also didn’t want a home that was newly decorated by someone else. I didn’t even have a kitchen but the essential bare bones were there.

‘I also needed a room to run my giftwrapping business, Gift Frippery, from.

‘I was really happy with what we bought in the end. Fireplaces in every room of this old Edwardian house except the lounge. So I had that one created there – and to this day nobody knows it’s not original! ‘

Vic Paterson, 47, bought in Spalding in 2018

‘We bought a house specifically for our business. We’re soft tissue therapists and we wanted a home with a garden studio to work from. That was our dealbreaker.

‘We found one, and although it’s near a busy main road. I’d rather have had a quieter location but everything else was perfect, so we bought it. ‘

Carpenter Brainstorming

Particularly during the pandemic, people realized the importance of having designated space for work or hobbies in their homes (Picture: Getty Images)

Natalie Ormond, 44, bought in Leeds in 2021

‘A garden was a dealbreaker for us. We had been in our big Victorian terrace for 10 years and bought it as a forever home, but when two little boys came along and a football hit the window every 30 seconds and it was clear we needed outdoor space.

‘Spending the first lockdown with two kids and shielding in a house with a tiny yard tipped us over the edge and we put our house on the market as soon as lockdown was over. A garden was an absolute must and the only dealbreaker really.

‘When we were viewing houses we often got less than ten minutes in the houses due to Covid rules and the kids weren’t allowed in – which meant five minutes each to have a quick whizz around the house while the other checked out out the garden with the boys.

‘We’ve downsized and paid a crazy amount over asking (such was the market at the time) but no regrets as the outside space is just where we needed.’

Abbey Robb, 43, bought in London in 2021

‘I had a few absolute essentials and a couple of dealbreakers but I was pretty flexible on the rest. I wanted a home that was big enough to be adaptable to changing life circumstance. I’m single right now but one day I might not be!

‘I work from home and I want to explore fostering children, so I had a hard minimum of three bedrooms, a downstairs toilet, and a kitchen that was large enough for a dishwasher.

‘I also wanted a garden of some description and less than 10 minutes’ walk to a tube station or within a 45 minute commute to central London.

‘It took me a while, and I’ve ended up buying a total project, but I got everything I wanted within budget. I definitely had to compromise on fittings and fixtures; I need to completely overhaul both bathrooms and I got handy and pulled a cupboard out of the kitchen and plumbed in a new dishwasher all by myself.

‘The biggest compromise was not being close to a tube station, but I’m five minutes’ walk from the DLR and can get smack bang into the center of London in 20 minutes so… it felt like holding out for the tube was a bit silly. ‘

Cass Davis, 31, bought in West Berkshire in 2018

‘The last time we moved it was the specific village that was the essential for me.

‘We also wanted a house that was light – as we lived in an end terrace before and it was basically a cave – and a drive and off-street parking outside.

‘We love where we are now but the house needs a lot of work. We bought somewhere with “potential” in order to get it in our budget and in the location we really wanted. ‘

Beth Greer, 35, bought in Cheshire in 2015

‘We wanted a place near countryside within walking distance to a village – which we found. The bonus being, we got a detached Victorian house with stunning views.

‘It doesn’t have parking and only a small garden but that was no bother as it’s right on the sandstone trail, so plenty of country walks on the doorstep.

‘The house needed a good amount of TLC (still ongoing – we paid £ 167k and it’s now valued at £ 340k) but we could see the potential.’

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