Charlie Martin, of Chris James Homes, shares her top seven tips for getting on the property ladder.

What can you afford?

Before you even start looking on Rightmove or Zoopla, you need to work out what you can afford. Speak to an independent mortgage adviser and get professional advice. You’ll also need to factor in costs for everything from surveys to conveyancing to removals to insurances to stamp duty and so forth. Make sure you have money set aside for this, away from your deposit amount.

What’s your credit score like?

If you’re buying a home, you’ll want to be familiar with your credit score. If it’s in good health, then great. If it needs improvements, then that’s ok too – you can research ways to improve it.

Location, location, “open mind”

If you can keep an open mind on location, then you could make some good money on your property. Research areas which have approved plans for development, are in good proximity to other desirable areas or communication links, and are showing signs of investment (such as little trendy shops or cafes appearing). If you can get ahead of the curve with buying in an up-and-coming area, you’ll benefit from better capital appreciation.

View properties multiple times

Once you’ve started viewing houses, if you find one you like, you should view it at least twice at different times of the day. For example, the neighbours may not be in until the evening and that may be when they like to play their music very loudly. If you only view the property in the morning, then you wouldn’t find this out.

Consider resale value

No matter how much you fall in love with a property, it will have a ceiling value due to its location. When thinking about how much you’ll pay for it, take into consideration the cost of any works the property requires. If this exceeds the ceiling value for the property, you should really reconsider.

Look beyond décor or staging

At one end of the spectrum, you’ll view houses that are cluttered and outdated, and at the other end of the spectrum you’ll view houses which have every inch planned to trick you into falling in love with the lifestyle they present. Once you’ve viewed a property, go through the dimensions and plan how you would use the space. Could a lick of paint, new flooring and a good clean make all the difference? Or if you take out all of the furniture and décor, is what you are left with a bit underwhelming? Think beyond how it looks now.

Being pragmatic in your approach to house hunting will help you succeed!