Choosing a new place to live can often be a challenge – there’s a long journey from finding the perfect home through to finally getting the keys.
Here’s our guide to getting started – with a bit of advice from real estate experts, and brands to trust, Highland Partners and LX Costa Rica, including how to select a home designed with consideration for the environment.
What are your priorities?
We recommend starting off by writing a list of what your dream home would be like, and then putting this in priority order. Be strict about what is most important to you. Is it the location? How much work the property needs? Perhaps it’s the style or the size of the outside space? Knowing what you care about most will help you make a confident decision when you find the right place.
“Most luxury home purchase decisions are driven by one of three considerations: financial, practical, or emotional. Knowing which one is truly a priority and how this shapes your decision-making process will make a world of difference. You may reach the same buying conclusion in many different ways, but the process.” LX Costa Rica
How do you choose your agent?
Compared to many buying decisions, choosing a home is something that we only do a handful of times in our lives, so it’s no surprise that many of us need a little guidance. Highland Partners suggest you identify your agent prior to beginning your home search, to maximise the use of their knowledge and support.
“Your agent will guide you through the process with relative ease, rather than trying to sort through all the details on your own. It’s what your agent does each and every day, so take advantage of their skills and knowledge.” Highland Partners
When choosing a potential agent check that they have the knowledge you care about – for example, can they offer advice about home energy performance or environmental impact?
“There are big differences between real estate agents and agencies. Do you prefer a quiet analytic agent, a more outgoing person, or a full agency that can provide a good mix? Finding the right match can make a world of difference. Ask some questions and compare before committing.” LX Costa Rica
Does the property have longevity?
Choosing a home is often compared to falling in love at first sight – you just know if it’s right for you. Try not to let your heart rule too much over your head though; bear in mind the practicalities of whether the space meets your needs right now or for the future.
Firstly, is there enough space for you to grow into – either with new belongings and requirements, or perhaps even new people? Also, consider the longevity of the building itself. Period houses often offer more character, but can require intensive maintenance to keep them in good condition and ensure the realisation of your investment.
Has it been designed with consideration to the environment?
Ensure you ask about the energy-efficiency and sustainability of the building – there are various certifications and scoring systems in different countries that you can enquire about.
Check if it’s been well insulated, or has the option add your own insulation – the same applies for double-glazing and efficient heating systems. You may also want to investigate options for renewable energy – is the roof be suitable for installing solar panels for instance?
LX Costa Rica told us that their agents are commonly asked questions about water and energy, both key concerns within luxury real estate. “These questions range from solar panel maintenance to off-the-grid electrical generation, backup power, and water sourcing for gardens, pools, and the residence.”
What about the fixtures and fittings? Are these made from materials that are kind on the planet? Look out for reclaimed material fixtures that add a layer of hidden narrative, such as this beautifully-crafted wooden flooring in Highland Partners’ Casa Heron property, which is made from seating from the San Francisco Giants baseball stadium.
Kitchens and bathrooms are key here too. If you’re considering renovating, do they need changing entirely, or can you give them a gentle refresh? It might be that replacing doors has the perfect impact making a less intense, or wasteful option.
What is the area like?
If you are moving to a new area, make sure you take the time to wander around your potential neighbourhood and see if it suits your lifestyle. Find out what your local coffee shop and grocery store are like, and do a bit of people watching to see if you’ll be surrounded by like-minded neighbours.
Look out for busy roads and nightlife that could cause noise issues – you could even ask your new neighbours about any potential issues. They’re likely to give you an honest opinion. This is also the time to check travel options and accessibility – work out the timings of your new commute and regular journeys.
How do you secure your dream place?
The technicalities and etiquette of bidding vary from place to place, but one thing is the same everywhere – a bit of flattery and friendliness towards the seller will go a long way.
Highland Partners says “Write a love letter to the seller. Finding a home you love, and actually prevailing in a multiple bidding situation can be difficult, especially in a seller’s market so setting yourself apart from the competition is paramount.”
If you enjoyed this, you might like to read Our Guide to Buying Ethical Jewellery