After living in halls for a year, a house can be a daunting prospect. However, if you take account all of the following things should be smoother and you'll end up with a house you are happier with in the long-run.
First of all it is important to know what you want. Would you rather a flat or a house; the amount of bedrooms and what kind of facilities you would prefer. The best way to do this is to make a list. Living with quite a few people can make this process tricky and complicated, so to please everyone this is the best way. You should take into account the following:
-number of bedrooms
-size of bedrooms/ double or single.
-white appliances (fridge, freezer, microwave etc.)
-bathroom situations --> bath or shower, and people to bathroom ratios.
-seperate kitchen or Open plan.
Things also like having a table may seem trivial when looking for somewhere to live, but think practically for when you will be living there. Also take into account what you get for your money,for example is having a double bed worth that money?
N.B A good thing to always check is the amount of fridge/freezer space for the amount of people, because legally landlords don't have to provide a practical amount, and you may be stuck with a tiny space each.
Finding the right agency may sound like a silly thing to look into, but it is always useful to find out the services they provide and extra costs for things like lost keys. A good source of this information is the university as they accredit companies.
When you find a house that you like and have perhaps booked a viewing for, the next thing that is important is to check out the area. Agency information can sometimes be misleading. Find the house on google maps and just go for a walk in the area. Check things like local amenities such as pubs, bars and local shops. Doing a mock run of walking/getting to uni to, then you can be properly informed before you make your decision.
When looking around the house make sure you see everything you want to. Sometimes agencies can be reluctant to show all aspects of the property, for example a garden. It's also important to not be shy with the current people who live there. Remember, if you should choose to live there you need to be able to see everything to make the right decision. Also a good tip is to have a quick chat with the people who live there because they will be the best people to give an objective view of living there.
All in all, take your time to make your decision as you'll be the one having to live with anything you're un-happy with but be willing to comprimise. Talk about it with your future housemates and express anything you don't like. Make sure you look round pleanty of properties also so you can see what you're getting for your money and what you like best.