Article by Katherine Cornell - 3rd January 2018

Why You Should Check Your Postcode Before Buying A House

Whatever reason you decide to move house, maybe it’s for downsizing, upsizing or a change of scenery, you’ll want to make sure that the house is the right fit for you (perhaps give or take a compromise or two). However, the area you’re thinking about moving to also needs to fit in with your needs and may be a far larger consideration than you may have realised.

How to check your postcode

If you’ve found a house you’re interested in, then you can search for a detailed overview of the area with our free-to-use Postcode Check service. By popping in any postcode, our tool provides you with information including social group classifications, an area summary, house sale prices, property types for the area, identity fraud hotspots, reported crimes, resident classifications and the credit score for the area and local services such as schools and transport.

The information provided is based on geodemographic information held about the area you live in - it is derived from census based information and responses received to several consumer questionnaires.

This information is used to generate an average estimated credit score within the postcode, which gives an indication as to the wealth and credit risk factors for that area. Whilst the finances of other people in the area should have little to no impact on your overall score, it could be important for you to know how your postcode may be assessed by potential lenders.

Comparing house values

When estimating the value of a property, one factor a mortgage lender may well look into is the historic sale prices of other buildings in the area- this has become increasingly common thanks to desktop and kerbside valuations. You can look at this data too, using it to see the average price of houses in the area so you can come up with a reasonable figure you can expect to pay.

It could also give you an insight into future gains you might hope to make on the property, however due to turbulent developments in the property market in recent years this may not be an entirely reliable way of predicting market trends.

Crime statistics

Almost all areas of the country will have some recent crime statistics to show, whether they are for petty crime or more serious offenses, but a frequent trend in crimes might show you something you may not have picked up on when visiting the area. Regular noise disturbance reports or antisocial behaviour may be indicative of a late night venue nearby that you could end up regretting choosing to live near.

Home and car insurers will use the postcode score to assess the likelihood of burglaries etc. when establishing premiums, but this doesn’t however mean that a ‘wealthy’ postcode will necessarily be cheap for insurance.

Spending time in the area at different times of the day, speaking to residents and local police/community support officers can be another great way to gauge what the neighbourhood is like.

Nearby schools & services

Families will want to find out information about schools in the locality and getting into the right school can often be a big reason for making a move. It is important to note that as with crime figures and house prices, the information on schools can vary over time, so look for recent history, word-of-mouth recommendations and Ofsted reports for information to gain a bigger picture of what the schools can offer.

When buying a house, it’s worth noting that houses in an area with one of more school with a good reputation may notice a bump in the price. For parents it’s a case of supply and demand; everyone wants their kids to go to a good school, but there are only so many houses in the area and travelling a longer distance may not be a viable option. Good transport links and easy access to other services may also have a similar increase in house value.

Once again, visiting the area and the schools will be a good indicator of their suitability to your needs, so choosing a house based on how close it is to a school might be a moot point if it turns out not to be the right fit for your kids.

How it will affect your credit rating

There’s a widely-held misconception that your address contributes to your credit file or that a below-average credit score for your area will affect your chances when you apply for a loan. There isn’t any truth to this, but the area you live in will affect the types of credit that is advertised to you.

Postcode profiling is often used by lenders when they’re choosing advertising distribution for their products, so more affluent areas may get leaflets through the door offering attractive credit card deals, but less wealthy areas may be targeted for higher interest products that have a higher acceptance rate.

While this makes a difference to the kind of product that you are offered, it has no bearing on whether or not you are accepted for finance. That means if you live in a less well-off area and you have a good credit history, you should still be able to apply for the best credit deals.

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