The joys of buying for someone else

Once upon a time there was a family with two children who lived happily in the north east of Scotland. The two children left home for university, worked in many different places before both settling down with their own families in Edinburgh. After a few years of 'enjoying' the A90/M90 the parents (who are now also grandparents), decided they should join the family move down south on a part-time basis.

Unfortunately, the parents' knowledge of Edinburgh is fairly limited so the children were asked to step up and help with the search. Many emails were exchanged between locations as properties were suggested and the parents started to think, "Do our kids have a clue about what we want?"

This is, in fact a real life story about an actual on-going search and, happily, family relations remain very good. However, looking for a home for someone else is not a simple task. House hunting for yourself is very much down to your own personal tastes, preferences, needs, likes and dislikes. It becomes a greater challenge when you need to absorb all these aspects for someone else and, most importantly, set aside your own opinion.

The initial wish list may start out fairly short. For example, it could be a flat that is not ground floor but not top floor within 15 minutes' drive of the city centre on the north side of Princes Street with at least 2 bedrooms and a price range of between £x and £y. Pretty straightforward really.

However, as the process of looking starts the finer details of the search come to light. Other criteria start to appear such as the property must be quick to heat up, if the flat is higher than the 2nd floor it must have a lift, secure parking would be good, what would be the rental potential and new build is fine as long as the development is completed with no more than 100 properties in it.

To avoid potential strife between the house hunter and the person who is actually going to be living in the property there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Sit down at the start and have a good and honest discussion about the search criteria.
  • The requirements of the search will only become clearer as you suggest properties and learn exactly what works and what does not.
  • Agree which criteria are flexible and which are not.
  • Think about the property history of the house hunter. Have they always lived in new build style properties?  Was this a proactive choice or just coincidence? Do they actually long for a more period property?
  • Tell the buyer why you are suggesting a property and ask for their feedback on why they are including or excluding that home from the ones they will look at.

As with many things, the key is communication.