Cast your net wider

Buy a home, check out the latest interiors trends or dream about owning a luxury pad. Kate Hilpern has the essential bookmarks for the property-obsessed


Buying and selling


There are two leading property websites: Primelocation.com and Rightmove.com. Both allow you to search any part of the country by county, postcode or map, with full property details online and an option to register for email alerts.

They must be doing something right. According to research from Primelocation, 10 million Britons are spending an average of 17 hours a month browsing property websites.

Zoopla.co.uk, one of the newer ones, has a Facebook feel – you even get a profile when you sign up. It's simpler to navigate than some and you can find out how long a property has been on the site as well as its original price.

Meanwhile, Findaproperty.com lists an impressive number of homes and provides property news and guides for areas, including council tax and crime rates. Also good for sheer volume is Nestoria.co.uk, which scans other websites to bring everything together on one page.

For bargains Propertysnale.co.uk searches property sites on a weekly basis, records the prices of properties listed and monitors any that have been reduced, while Futureauctions.co.uk has links to auctioneers' websites, although details can be vague.

Periodproperty.co.uk specialises in every aspect of heritage property, including a search facility for homes for sale both privately and with agents. Conversely, Newhomes.co.uk lists thousands of new-builds.

If it's something alternative that takes your fancy – a watermill or converted factory, perhaps – Globrix.com has a great search function and lets you hide properties of which you are fed up popping up in your searches.

Property.org.uk/unique is also good for the likes of lighthouses, converted churches and castles.

Sellers can discover what a home in their area has sold for on Nethouseprices.com. If you want to avoid agents' fees, good sites are Sellmypropertydirect.co.uk, Thelittlehousecompany.co.uk and Houseladder.co.uk.

Housenetwork.co.uk is a halfway house between DIY and agent, offering help and advice with everything from erecting a For Sale sign to getting your house noticed on Rightmove.

Practicalities

Keen to find out about a particular neighbourhood? Find schools, crime rates, local businesses, home advice and more on Upmystreet.com – and search by postcode for recent school inspection reports at Ofsted.gov.uk.

Lawsociety.org.uk has a great "find a solicitor" link and useful guides to common legal problems.

For an online change of address service, use Iammoving.com. To check council tax bands, see Voa.gov.uk (Saa.gov.uk for Scotland).

If you want to revamp a property, Architectyourhome.com can help plan that roof conversion.

For tips on what you can and cannot do without planning permission, try Planningportal. gov.uk, which also outlines building regulations.

Direct.gov.uk will tell you whether you are moving to a conservation area and what effect that may have.

Meanwhile, Firstrungnow.com targets first-time buyers with advice and low-cost properties.

For advice about mortgages, click on Moneyfacts.co.uk or Mortgages. co.uk, which have calculators to help you work out your borrowing potential as well as comparing deals.

Interiors

By searching more than 2,000 online shops in seconds, Mydeco.com enables you to find interiors to fit any budget. Sign up to the weekly "sales scoop" to get discounts, voucher codes and exclusive offers.

For the best design ideas, though, interiors blogs are the best bet. Designspongeonline.com is the cream of the crop, offering a feast for those on moderate salaries, with plenty of room makeovers as well as weekly DIY projects and tends.

Apartmentherapy.com is great for advice, enabling you to discuss styles with design gurus and newbies alike.

Theselby.com began as a project in which photographer Todd Selby shot his own friends in their houses. But the site now offers an insider's view to a huge range of creative people's homes.

Blog.designsquish.com or, as an alternative, Inhabitat.com, are full of sustainable ideas, while for high street finds and hidden treasures, click on Homeshoppingspy.wordpress.com.

Ikeahackers.net is a good choice if you're after something quirky. Each post has an Ikea product with creative before-and after modifications.

And Printpattern.blogspot.com is a British blog whose focus is on all things patterned.

Another inspired offering is Decor8blog.com from travelling interior design consultant Holly Becker. In particular, look out for her postings on independent artists and designers who have yet to be discovered. Also see Joanna Feeley's blog Trendbible.co.uk. Joanna is an adviser on future interior trends for major high street names such as TK Maxx and Next.

Property porn

If you spend an unhealthy amount of time checking out properties you can't afford – which two in three web users regularly do, says Primelocation.com – then one of your must-visits should be Themodernhouse.net, which showcases cutting-edge modern classics and award winners, most of which are far beyond most people's budgets.

For a peek at how the other half lives, check out Sothebysrealty.com as well as Luxuryproperty. com and Countrylife.co.uk/property – all of which include homes on the market for more than £15 million.

Feeling embarrassed? Then don't. Theratandmouse.co.uk, focusing on London's property obsession, will assure you that you're among friends and provide all the real estate gossip you need with a highly readable mix of facts and irony.

For some transatlantic property porn, gawp at Hollywood stars' homes on Celebritymaps.com or satisfy the weirdest of whims by looking at Stardriveways.com, which shows where the likes of Nicolas Cage and Keifer Sutherland park their cars.

At the other end of the spectrum, Readersheds.co.uk will show you full frontal shots of British greenhouses, outside loos and workshops.

Looking for a home? Try The Independent's property search - the easiest way to find a UK property.

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