In 2012, not only were the Olympics being held in London but my wife, Jen, and I were looking at potentially buying our first house. One of these two things captured the hearts and minds of the country and the other occupied our every beating minute outside of work.
We had moved around London, from North to South, trying to find a place that felt like home. We lived in flats with ladybirds. Cute , right? Not when they are swarming in your shower when the alarm goes off at 6am. We lived with friends, we lived on our own, we lived with mice and a whole lot else along the way. We never really felt at home. The city was always surrounding us and we both yearned for a bit more space.
So, we made the decision, we had saved what we needed and we started to look. Well, we went on Rightmove and Zoopla and FindaProperty and any other property website you can think of. Every single one of them stumped us with the very first question. Where?
We didn’t know. We didn’t have the slightest clue where to start. There were the places everyone mentions. Turns out they are really, really expensive. Supply and Demand, Nick, they said. Everyone loves those areas, they aren’t building many more homes and the prices have rocketed🚀 . That meant we needed to look elsewhere.
Where do you start? Transport we thought was a good start. Jen is a teacher so we thought pretty transferable skills but needed to be close to London just in case there were no jobs locally. I wanted to be able to commute into pretty much anywhere in London within an hour.
That put our search grid as anywhere within 30 minutes of a major London terminus. Sound familiar to house hunters out there? That was a colossal sized area and guess what, you couldn’t even (still can’t) search like that on Rightmove or Zoopla (or any other property search site).
Where do you look to narrow down your search? What’s the difference between Hayes in West London and Hayes in South London? Bromley by Bow and straight up Bromley? I searched and I searched and I searched for ways to narrow down our prospective areas. We plotted on maps where our friends lived, even restaurants we liked to go to. We used some pretty cool tools to find travel times like these guys:
We looked at crime rates, schools, access to parks and pollution levels for these areas.
On Google streetview we even looked at high streets to see what shops and restaurants were in each area.
We then read every local guide and every property supplement in every paper. There are loads! We looked on twitter, instagram, facebook to try and get an idea of what all these areas were like.Essentially, we spent a lot of time working out areas and constantly cross-checking with whether we could afford a property that we wanted in that area. It took months before we had an area. But... After all that research, trawling through data and making spreadsheets and lists.... we had found our home.
We found our Where. Beckenham.
From the day we found our Where to finding our which and having an offer accepted took 10 days. We knew. We’d done exhaustive research, we knew this was the very best home we could afford. And we love it. The area is amazing, independent restaurants, a vibrant high street, good schools, rapid and regular trains in to multiple London terminuses (termini?), great parks with a new wild swimming lake being built! Speedy access to the depths of Kent and a proper pub that doesn't serve food. All in all, the very best place for us to live.
In the process of starting PiPA I did a little calculation on how many hours Jen and I spent researching and finding our Where:
819 hours, or 34 full days.
At the average hourly wage (at the time) of £12.92/hour = £10,581.48.
That is what it cost to find our Where.
That is the problem we are trying to solve with PiPA. A Personal intelligent Property Assistant that will help you find your where, help you find your perfect home, remove all that uncertainty and save you £10,000 worth of your time.
Let’s get going.
P.S. As my co-founder the trained buying agent has just told me:
Between the first day we started looking and the day our offer was accepted, house prices in Beckenham increased approximately 4% which on an average house (2013: £480,000) in Beckenham is: £19,200. So PiPA would have saved me £30,000!
Did you enjoy this post? Have you had a similar experience? Tell us about it 💬
We're using these experiences to create PiPA. A new product that will make the process of finding your perfect house much easier 🚀!
For free and early access - head to PiPA.ai to sign up 😍