Parking space versus storage space.

It’s hard to look beyond a shiny new kitchen or freshly painted walls, but you’ll need to really weigh up your priorities when you’re house-hunting.

Whether it’s peeling walls and an overgrown garden putting you off or a marble wet room and brand new appliances beckoning you in, it’s important to look at the bigger picture when you’re viewing homes.

How important is the location versus being able to move straight in without decorating, for example? A quick paint job is an easy win if you’ve got time, but you can’t conjure up a more convenient street, a parking space or a good mobile signal.

Equally, you might need to think about how good the local schools are versus, say, having a bigger garden. So think about your current and future lifestyle and list your priorities before you go looking – that granite kitchen worktop is just the icing on the cake.

Here are five essential traits that will make a genuine difference to your everyday home life.

Parking versus storage space

1. Let there be light

Unless you’re a vampire, one way to bring down your mood is living in a house that’s constantly dark.

The position of a house affects how much natural light gets in, as do the number of windows, what floor you’re on if it’s a flat, and whether there are trees or other objects blocking the light. This can have an impact on your heating bills as well as your frame of mind.

A south-facing home will maximise natural light and warmth, while a north-facing one may keep your house cooler – not so great in winter but beneficial in summer. A north-facing home can be bright if the main living space is at the front and there are lots of windows.

You can check a home’s position by downloading a compass app to your phone.

2. Location, location, location

You might have found the house of your dreams, but there’s more to think about than how good the property looks. The neighbourhood is a big consideration.

Ask yourself:

  • How near is it to the shops? 
  • Does the area have good transport links? 
  • What will the commute to work be like?
  • Is the property near a pub or takeaway that might get rowdy at night? 
  • Is crime a problem in the area? 
  • If you have children, or are planning to have some, is there a good school nearby?

3. Enjoy the park life

Parking wars with your neighbours can be stressful. If you drive, but the house you’re viewing doesn’t come with a garage or off-street parking, check how much space there is on the road.

It’s worth looking at the parking situation in the evening when the number of parked cars is likely to be at a peak. Also check if there are any parking restrictions in the area. Do you need a permit to park  there and will you need to pay for this?

4. Signal failure

If you’re not planning to use a landline, mobile signal is a key consideration. Look at the signal bars on your phone when looking round a house and try to make a call – it’s worth trying it in more than one room. There are lots of apps out there that let you test the phone signal and mobile internet service.

5. It's all about storage

Once you’ve bought a house, you’ll find you gradually start to accumulate more and more stuff. Is there plenty of storage space in the home you’re looking at? Where will you keep your spare bed linen, vacuum cleaner, kids’ toys and boxes of junk?

New-build homes can be particularly short on space, leaving them looking cluttered and harder to keep clean. Consider if there’s room for cupboards and shelves to be built in, and make sure you know what’s being left behind as part of the sale.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Thinking about buying your first home?

Find out about mortgages for first-time buyers.

First-time buyer guide