In many areas of the UK the supply of property for sale is plentiful, but in others property is scarce. In the first of a series of articles written to help you buy, secure, finance and renovate a property, Ned Browne explains how to find your dream home—or, indeed, your dream investment property.
Buying property at auction
Unless you’re a seasoned property aficionado, these are best avoided.
The properties sold via auction tend to come with issues, for example, some have very short leases and others have major structural defects.
Auctions are also a common way for families to dispose of probate properties. The good properties that are auctioned tend to attract a lot of interest and the prices rise in the auction house accordingly. It is also worth remembering that you will need to have a 10% deposit ready for payment on auction day, and access to the remaining 90% within 28 days.
The problem with the internet
The Internet is a fantastic tool for research: you can find out about new infrastructure, analyse house-price trends, identify school catchment areas and see if there are any parks close by. Thanks to Google Streetview, you can even take a virtual tour of the street.
All these things can help you to identify where you want to live. But, if there’s a bun fight to secure properties in that area, the ones featured online will be there for a reason. Perhaps they’re overpriced? Perhaps they’re on a busy road? Perhaps there’s a problem with the lease? Perhaps the estate agent is planning an open house and manufacturing a price war?
The reality is this: the best properties are snapped up before the estate agent has even drafted the details. And, given that over 90% of property sales are via estate agents, it’s vital you build a rapport with them. If you’re able, visit them during the week, when they’re less busy. Get to know their names, give them your business card, and follow up any discussions with an email.
The people estate agents love
Estate agents make their money through commission. If you can prove you’re a good buyer, they’re far more likely to show you the properties that have just come onto their books.
Get your finances in order: a deposit in place and a mortgage agreed in principle. If you have a property to sell, offer them your property to sell on the condition that they find you a suitable property to buy.
If you’re planning on renting or selling the property after you’ve refurbished it, tell them that it’ll be back on their books in a few months’ time.
Some buyers are fortunate enough to be able to narrow their search to half a dozen streets. If that’s you, why not leaflet the houses?
Many homeowners think about selling. Maybe a little nudge is all that’s needed?
If someone bites, the property websites are great for establishing comparables; what’s a fair price to pay? When negotiating, remember they’re saving on estate agent fees, which are typically between 1.5% and 4% (plus VAT).
Don’t give up
There are countless tales of people who lose out on a property only to secure a better one a few months later.
Buying property can feel like a war of attrition. But, if you stay the course, invariably it’ll prove to be a war worth winning.