Property news update: Schools are first priority for homehunters

Plus, student check-outs, more help for first time buyers, and is this the end of the garage?

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The Independent Online

Living close to a good school remains the number one priority for homebuyers, suggests a new report.  Around 20 per cent of estate agents believe that this is still the most important factor when looking for a dream home according to a poll for Move with Us.

Schools were folllowed by good transport links (18 per cent) and being close to local amenities such as shops (14 per cent). A fast internt connection was chosed by 7.5 per cent. Compared to five years ago, the estate agents said there was a big drop in interest in garden sheds/outbuildings, and garden size in general.

"The property market has been through peaks and troughs over the last five years but properties bought near to good schools, transport links and local amenities are typically sound investments," said Robin King, Director at Move with Us.

Garage or dumping ground?

Nearly half of garages are not used to park cars but to store household goods, says a new study from RAC Home Insurance.

Around two in five drivers admit that their garage is so full of household odds and ends that they can't actually drive into it. Indeed, nearly two thirds said they no longer really used their garage at all (apart from the 10 per cent who have turned it into extra living accommodation or the 36 per cent that use it as a home office or hobby space).

"Our research appears to indicate that there is an issue with the design of houses as people do not have enough space to keep all their possessions in the house itself and many garages are so small that anyone in the car has to perform a contortionist act to get out," said RAC Home Insurance spokesman Simon Williams.

First time buyers need more help to buy

The average age of a first time buyer is now 36, according to MoneySuperMarket figures. However, those looking to buy in the South West believe that they will be 41 before they get onto the ladder, while people in Scotland estimate they will be 33 .

Over a third say they now never plan to buy their own home, rising to half of those polled in Scotland, but dropping to 19 per cent among Londoners despite the high current property prices in the capital. The research also showed that  a fifth of homeowners who have bought their property in the last decade had not been able to save enough to pay for any renovation work.

Landlords prepare for students' departures

When students leave their accommodation this summer, landlords, agents and clerks will face major problems at the end of the tenancy, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks.

"Traditionally, students tend to leave properties in a state," said Pat Barber, Chair of the Association of the AIIC. "They don't worry about cleaning, gardening, putting furniture back in the right places, or even taking out all their belongings. They love to just dump stuff they don't want in the house and just walk away.

"Students are rarely ready at the booked time for a check-out. This causes problems with not only the inventory carried out by a clerk or a landlord, but also impacts on the tight turnaround of student properties. New students have to book a property several months before the old tenants vacate and generally move in the next day."

Global house prices

Knight Frank's analysis for the first three months of the year shows that Dubai is at the top of the world rankings (and with price growth of 28 per cent over the last 12 months), with Croatia, Cyprus and Greece at the bottom. Singapore and Japan are the only non-European countries in the bottom 14 rankings.