It's fair to say the process of searching for a new home has changed dramatically.
It's hard to know where to start as an experienced buyer, let alone someone aiming to get on the first rung of the property ladder.
And in a market underpinned by Brexit uncertainty, knowing whether to stick or twist is extremely difficult.
Take a look at our top search tips for buyers below, which can help when planning your next move...
1. Decide what kind of property you want
Drawing up a list of needs or pain points can be a good starting point and help you focus your search on the things that are important to you.
If your family is growing, you'll need a certain number of bedrooms. So, focus your search on homes that meet your demands and discount everything else.
A focused search with no temptation to deviate will ensure you remain focused on the reason why you are searching in the first place.
2. Arrange your finance
Knowing how much you have to spend before you start searching for your new home will help keep your expectations in check and streamline your search.
If you have a maximum mortgage of £200,000 and a £50,000 deposit, there is little point in looking at properties on the market at more than £300,000.
All doing so will do is confuse you and, potentially, add frustration to your search.
3. The best locations for you
Being focused on the kind of property you want and sticking to your budget are vital. But a scattergun approach to location can hinder your property search rather than help it.
Explore core areas you think may suit your needs. Do this online if you are moving a considerable distance.
If you already live within driving distance or a short train journey, take some time to visit areas around your core area. Speak to local shop owners or potential neighbours if you see them.
Find out as much as you can and work your core area into three or four surrounding areas that would work for you. Keep your search focus on these areas at least initially.
Your search can be widened later if you need to.
4. Speak to your local agent
Even in these days of looking for a new home on property websites, the knowledge of your local estate agent can be a real eye-opener.
While the property you have spotted online might have what at first glance appears to be an attractive asking price, your local agent is more likely to be of the identical house three doors down that sold for far less.
Not only that, if an agent knows you are a serious buyer, they will tip you off about properties that come to market before appearing on online portals, meaning you could get a beneficial head start over the rest of the property hunting competition.
5. Use the online portals
Rightmove, Zoopla and On The Market are usually the first port of call for buyers looking for a new home.
They provide a great, user-friendly way to have a sneaky peak at lots of properties in a short space of time and are a great starting point for you to see what is out there.
6. Ask questions
Remember: This is the single biggest investment you will make in your life. Making sure it is right for you is crucial.
Before you attend a viewing, compile a list of questions to ask the estate agent. Having this key information to hand will help you make an informed decision with your head as much as your heart and might reveal another opportunity that aids your search.
7. Look for price drops
Register for updates and marketing information at your local estate agent and build a rapport with the property expert you deal with.
Striking up a good relationship with them means they will almost certainly keep you abreast of the market in your chosen area. That could mean letting you know about properties where the vendor has dropped the price.
There are also websites that can help with this, such as Nethouseprices.
8. Government home-buying schemes
Getting the required deposit together to buy your dream home is not always easy, especially for first-time buyers.
Government schemes such as Help to Buy can worth considering before starting your property search.
9. Homes for sale at auction
This is probably not a route for the average first-time buyer, but considering an auction-sold property during your search can often save you money.
However, buying at auction is not without its risk. Moreover, you'll need to have done your research, have finance in place and your wits about you to be successful.
Attend an auction first (but don't bid on anything!) to test the process out and see if the environment is for you.
If you decide to check out an auction property, visit it several times and take people with you who can advise on any areas you are concerned about.
Most importantly, get a survey done. This could help reveal any reasons why the property is up for auction with a low guide price!
If you are looking for a new home, take a look at the properties for sale with Whitegates and get in touch if you have any questions.