Our Guide to House Hunting

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For most people, buying a new place to live is an exciting time – often stressful, but always exciting.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer, or have been on more property searches than Phil and Kirsty, there are lots of ways to make the house-buying process a whole lot easier.

In this guide, we’ll share our top tips and advice on finding the perfect home for you and how to make your property journey as stress-free as possible.


Work out your property budget and stick to it

It sounds simple, but many people overlook this first vital rule of house hunting.

Or, they come up with a notional “ideal spend” but don’t limit their property search to homes in this price bracket.

Most of us will need a mortgage or loan of some description to fund our property purchase.


Finding the right mortgage can be daunting

With over 60 major mortgage lenders and hundreds of smaller and niche lenders trying to win your business and a choice of Fixed Rates, Capped Rates, Tracker Mortgages, Variable Rates, 2-Year Fixed, 5-Year Fixed etc., etc., etc., you need help!

We strongly recommend seeking clear, unbiased, professional advice from an Independent Mortgage Adviser before you start your property search.


Choose a mortgage adviser who speaks your language

At Sims Williams, we only recommend totally Independent Financial Advisers who use plain English and are regulated by the appropriate financial services authorities.

Good mortgage advisers will search the entire mortgage market to research and advise you on the most appropriate and affordable mortgage for your personal circumstances.

Once you feel comfortable with their recommendation, they will help you through the mortgage application process.


Evidence you need to apply for a mortgage

Most lenders will require the following information as a minimum.

  • Proof of income
  • Three months’ payslips
  • If Self Employed, SA302’s for the last three years
  • Most recent P60
  • Last 3 months’ bank statements
  • Two forms of ID
  • Existing Mortgage Statement (if appropriate)
  • Proof of deposit
  • A mortgage application can take between 10 days to three weeks to be approved

Having a point of contact (your financial adviser) who is prepared to chase the application process will make sure you don’t need to spend hours on the phone to a call centre.


Set aside your moving in costs

Securing your mortgage is only one aspect of the cost involved when you move to a new house.

Stamp Duty, a property survey, solicitor’s fees and removal fees can all mount up and you’d be wise to budget for these as early as you can.

At Sims Williams, we make sure our clients understand all the costs involved and can help you to obtain quotes on all aspects of your move.


At last – time to actually start your property search!

Now you’ve taken care of all the boring but absolutely essential stuff, it’s time to start looking for your perfect home.


What type of property are you looking for?

We’d all love a few more bedrooms, a bit of extra parking and an indoor swimming pool (!), but we need to be realistic about what we can afford.

Tell your estate agent about your minimum requirements and explain in detail what’s important to you when it comes to a property.

For example, saying you need four bedrooms is fine if you need four bedrooms. However, if three bedrooms and a home office or hobby room is what you are looking for, share that with your estate agent at the outset.


Don’t pretend to be DIY Big Build if your skills are more 60-Minute Makeover!

“I’m happy to do work on a property,” is something estate agents hear regularly.

Are you really? Have you actually got the skills or funds to make structural changes to a new property? Will your mortgage lender provide the amount you need if the property you’re considering needs substantial work to bring it up to date and habitable?

A bit of redecoration and a new kitchen and bathroom is one thing, but having to deal with structural problems such as subsidence is not for the faint-hearted.

Be realistic about what you can do and what you can afford to do or your dream home may turn into the “money pit” and misery.


Location, location, location?

Of course, some of us would love to live on the beach and some of us would like a penthouse city centre apartment and that’s fine if we can afford these top dollar properties.

If not, identify your preferred geographical area and work out a radius for your property search.

You’ll get so much more “bang for your buck’ if you look at properties a mile from the beach or the city centre.

Obviously, if sea views are number one on your property wish list and you’re prepared to compromise on size, you may get lucky.


A good estate agent will always act on your wishes

The more information you share with an estate agent, the better placed they are to help you find the perfect property for you.

A good estate agent will probe to find out how important it is to be near the best schools in the area or to have easy access to good medical facilities.

And, they will also explain different Council Tax bands, broadband speeds and likely running costs of properties that appeal to you.


There’s no substitute for physically viewing a property

With property details, street views and satellite views available online, it can be easy to dismiss a property out of hand based on your split-second impression of the property.

In our 35 years’ experience, we’ve learned that there is no short cut for physically viewing a property and the surrounding area.

If a property matches your search criteria, it’s always worth arranging a viewing before you make up your mind about it.


Get the most from property viewings

Prepare yourself for viewings, plot your journey between houses and allow plenty of time.

If you can, leave little ones at home so you won’t be distracted. Take a note pad and a tape measure and jot down good and bad points after every viewing to help you remember important details.

At Sims Williams, we accompany as many of our viewings as possible.

We do this for several reasons – primarily because we think it’s our job as professional estate agents, but also so that we can obtain your initial feedback on a property and answer your questions there and then.

Accompanying you to viewings helps us to build a better picture of what you are looking for and allows us to suggest other properties that might better suit your requirements.


Be honest – it really is the best policy

We’ll contact you a day or so after every viewing to find out your thoughts once you’ve had time to reflect on the property you’ve seen.

Don’t hold back – it’s vital that you help us to help you by providing honest and constructive feedback. If you hate an area, it’s important for us to know that so we don’t suggest properties in the same location.


Always arrange a second viewing

You should arrange at least one more viewing of properties you like before making your final decision on whether to put in an offer.

Many of us like to take friends and / or relatives for a valuable second opinion.

It’s also sensible to visit at different times of the day, so that you can see what parking is like in the evenings or how busy the road is during rush hour.


Making an offer

If the second viewing convinces you this is the perfect property for you – what’s next?

Should you go straight in with the full asking price or start negotiating by putting in a cheekily low offer?

How much do you want the property?

If you feel the property is perfect and you don’t want to lose it, the best way to ensure it becomes yours is to offer the asking price.

We have seen so many potential buyers feel they have to ‘play the game’ and try and get the asking price reduced, only to miss out to another interested party.

As estate agents, we work for the seller and our aim is to achieve the best possible price for them. However, our role is also to negotiate on your behalf and we know that offers between 95% and 100% of the asking price will usually secure the sale.

Make an offer much lower than this and you may well hear the vendor’s response without the need of a telephone!


Be the most attractive buyer

If you’ve got your mortgage and deposit in place and have already sold your property, you are far more attractive to the seller than someone whose home has only just gone onto the market.

Make sure your estate agent shares all the pertinent facts, including evidence of your mortgage offer and any conditions you want to attach to your offer – for example, you want to move within three months.


Preparation pays off at this crucial stage

If you followed our advice at the start of the process and have all your documentation, including proof of ID and Agreement in Principle all available, your offer can be made immediately.

The seller is far more likely to accept an offer from someone who is obviously serious and ready to move.


With you every step of the way

Once your offer has been accepted, the sales process can be progressed and it could be a matter of weeks before you are enjoying your first cuppa in your new home.

At Sims Williams, once a sale is agreed, we appoint a dedicated property consultant to progress the purchase until completion.

It’s their job to keep everyone informed, chase all the parties involved, including solicitors and surveyors and make the process as speedy and stress-free as possible.


Unbeatable local knowledge and experience you can trust

Sims Williams has been helping clients to buy, sell and rent their homes for over 35 years and we have offices in Chichester, Arundel and Walberton.

If you’re ready to start house hunting, call us today for a free market valuation or to find out more about our “no sale, no fee” approach and, let’s get moving.

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What our clients say

Professional and highly recommended

We have been with Sims Williams (Chichester branch and recently Bognor Regis) for many years and they look after our rented properties very well. The property/ Letting managers (David, Nicola, Jo & Sheila) are professional, helpful, good communication, excellent follow up and always put us at ease. We are very happy with their service and highly recommended them. Thank you for looking after us.
Gee- Landlord - Aug 18th, 2023

Super Service

Back in August 2022, we decided to sell our house. After having several estate agents in, we decided on Sims Williams and we are so glad we did. Michael was so thorough in detail and within a week (seriously!), our house was on the market with photos done and viewings arranged. We had lots of advice from Michael and any queries we had were answered promptly. When the house was SSTC (which also happened after only one viewing!), Karen then took over and was also extremely efficient, keeping us up to date all the time. This gave us absolute reassurance that Sims Williams made us their priority. Honestly, we can't thank all the staff at Sims Williams enough for making the sale of our house such a smooth process, having heard that selling your house can be really stressful. Thank you Sims Williams! We will certainly recommend you to anyone who wishes to sell their house.
Mr & Mrs Wong Vendors - Oct 21st, 2022

Thank you

We recently purchased a property in Arundel. Sims Williams acted for the vendor. The agents we appointed for the sale of our property in Chichester were disappointing, to say the least. Fortunately Simms Williams came to the rescue! From the moment that we placed our offer with them, they were fantastic. We relied upon them to provide accurate and timely information about what was happening in the chain beneath us. Special thanks go to Lynne and Emma who were extremely kind and helpful. We wholeheartedly recommend them.
Lyn & Jamie - Buyer - Jun 24th, 2022


The whole team in Walberton did a fantastic job. Despite a few problems, they worked so hard to get the purchase completed. I was kept informed at all times. Lin in particular worked very hard to ensure the purchase did not fall through.
Dave - Buyer - Dec 7th, 2020

Excellent Service!

We recently completed on a property in Bognor Regis and bought it through Simms Williams. I have to say the service was excellent from the office staff but mainly from our main contact there Susie Jones. We probably drove her mad with all the questions, extra viewings but she was always there to answer them and do everything she could to help the sale go smoothly. Excellent service, well done Susie.
Noeleen- Buyer - Nov 25th, 2023

I cannot fault Sims Williams and would recommend them in a heartbeat

The common conception of Estate Agents is that they take a few pictures, write a blurb, publish it, show prospective purchasers around a property, and charge you a fortune for the privilege. From the seller's point of view, that may be how it seems. However, after the sale has actually been agreed, the service provided to the purchaser more than justifies the cost. I’ve recently purchased a property through Sims Williams, and they did so much to help. Ambiguity surrounding a tree preservation order was quashed in a matter of minutes, thanks to them having much more up-to-date information than the council. My survey raised a potential concern about damp. Sims Williams provided a damp expert to go and visit the property and compile a report – again resolving this problem very quickly. Lastly, a purchase further up the chain was causing delays. Sims Williams were constantly checking in with me, assuring me that they were chasing and doing everything in their power to help this complete. Obviously, all of this came out of the fee that would have been paid by the seller, so was effectively free for me. Had I have gone back to my solicitor with all these queries, I dread to think how expensive that bill would have been. Through my experience, I cannot fault Sims Williams and would recommend them in a heartbeat.

Friendly, knowledgeable and available

Deal efficiently with all matters relating to a new letting and provide a fast response to any issues from then on. Highly recommended for their friendly but efficient approach.
Carole - Landlord - Jan 19th, 2022

Outstanding Service!

We recently purchased a property through Sims Willams, throughout the process, Megan and the team were friendly, accommodating and proactive which made the experience of buying our first property a joy. We are really happy in our new home and would highly recommend them!
Mr Cooper - Purchaser - Oct 14th, 2022

Always Helpful

We have been very happy with the Arundel Office who helped us consistently with the numerous problems that came up with the purchase of our wonderful new home. Particular mention needs to go to Emma for her constant endeavours to sort things out, and Tamsin waiting outside the office to hand over the keys at the eleventh hour. Thank you all.
Hilary - Buyer - Mar 23rd, 2021

Excellent service

Excellent service provided throughout with good communication and updates and we had the feeling that the whole team was working to achieve the best outcome for us.
Sara - Vendor - Dec 20th, 2021