How do you find your dream home when there is a shortage of properties on the market? It is a challenge but it is certainly not impossible. Fine & Country agents share their tips on how to find your perfect property and in the current market what buyers should consider.
“Be prepared. Demand remains high in this area with local buyers often competing from those coming from London and Cambridge. If you find the right home, you need to move quickly. Have a solicitor pre-appointed, proof of your finance (this could be a Mortgage Agreement in principle, letter from a personal banker or wealth advisor) and a surveyor. When submitting an offer supply all this information. If there are multiple parties involved, it will add confidence to yours.
“Arrange pre-marketing viewings. Good estate agents will call when they bring a home to the market and are preparing the marketing material. If the description on the phone sounds like it may be suitable, arrange a viewing as soon as possible. More and more of our homes are being sold before public marketing,” says Richard.
“Make sure you can afford the home. Before placing an offer on the table, you have to be certain that you can pay for it. This means that you have the money for the asking price plus fees, costs and taxes, that you have already sold your old house or that your bank has agreed a mortgage.
“Is it an investment or your usual home? If the purchase is purely for investment, you will only have to think in terms of profitability. On the contrary, if the dwelling is to live in it for 10 years or more, you can be a little more flexible if it is the house of your dreams.
“Set a budget. This step is crucial. Determine how much money you are willing to spend each month for housing costs. Some will be able to pay cash, but you must also take into account taxes on property, insurance and maintenance.
“Find an agent who listens to you. At Fine & Country, honesty, initiative and good customer care are the main qualities that the company seeks in our advisors,” explains Marc.
“Most people have been disappointed once or twice in their lives because of a missed opportunity to buy something. They say, “a miss is as good as a mile.” However, if you miss your dream home that mile can be a long one. We’ve seen this happen too often in the real estate business.
“The golden rule for a purchaser, when they finally find the property is to establish the value that they want and can afford to pay. You may pay more than the actual market value, and others may pay less because they do not have the same interest as you, but the mile might not be as long for them as for you. If it fits your style and will make you happy, there will be added value.
“My advice is to shop around. The internet has a wealth of property listings and you can refine your searches to suit your needs and wants. Patience is also a virtue and will go a long way in ensuring you get the right home at the right price. The real estate industry is driven by supply and demand. If the current market situation is one where demand is outstripping supply, you will experience higher asking prices for properties as buyers try to outbid each other. Don’t just jump at the first property you see, take your time and look around, make a shortlist of a few properties that meet your criteria, and then arrange to view them.
“Often the physical experience of seeing a property is vastly different from seeing it two-dimensionally on the internet. Remember that buying a home, whether it be for you or as an investment, is a long-term financial commitment and you owe it to yourself to ensure you get the best value for money. If you have found ‘the one’ and it’s a little more than your initial budget, consider whether you are prepared to lose your dream home quibbling over a small amount of money?
“Some other key advice is to speak to the seller about the neighbourhood and their experience of living there. What are the neighbours like, what amenities are nearby, how is the traffic in the morning. All the pertinent questions that create the lifestyle you will experience should you purchase that particular property. Ask about improvements that the homeowner has carried out or any renovations. Look for properties that have been well-maintained and looked after by their owners, neglected properties can be an unexpectedly costly exercise. Do not over extend yourself in terms of credit – remember inflation and interest rates rise and fall. Both impact on your pocket and how you repay your mortgage.
“There is an art to purchasing and selling homes and getting the final ‘yes’ from both parties is a delicate process. The happy ending is the result of marketing and promotion, interviews and viewings, but after all it is a meeting of minds to get a consensus. The professional agent is the facilitator of this process,” concludes Linda.
“A lot of buyers will assume there is nothing available on the market today, when in fact there is plenty available but not at the price level you would like. Something ‘new’ on the market isn’t necessarily the best property, as everyone else who is looking within the same search criteria may have the same mindset. Instead focus on properties that have been on the market for three to four months, or possibly even longer.
“In addition, most of the owners are tied in to 12-16 week contracts, so sellers are forced to keep the property listed with a particular agent and not have any success in selling. This would be the perfect chance for a buyer to offer a price that they see as a reasonable price. Do your research on pound per square foot, see what has actually sold nearby and don’t be afraid to do your own 10 minute research on anything that seems remotely interesting. Every seller has a story and most buyers will be surprised to learn how many genuine sellers are motivated and just want to get on with their lives. Reductions can be beyond anyone’s imagination, but to put it into perspective we have seen properties listed at £1 million and sell at £850,000, simply because someone was willing to make an offer,” concludes Adam.
“In Brighton and Hove, there has been a perennial shortage of houses for as long as I can remember. At Fine & Country, we are very often ‘secret agents’, able to sell properties discreetly off market using old fashioned estate agency skills. We know who is looking, for what and put them together.
“Talk to your agent about your requirements and your lifestyle. You would be surprised at the amount of properties that will fit the bill that you didn’t know about. You should have funds in place or you are likely to lose out to a buyer who is ready to proceed. If you have a property to sell yourself, it is better to have a patient buyer waiting than put yourself under pressure to take a low offer because you don’t want to lose your purchase,” explains Dominique.
“So it’s Saturday evening and you’re trawling the internet for the third time this week, looking for your dream home. There is nothing new that catches your eye. Your search for a new home started off well but now it seems like a daily chore, does this sound familiar?
“If you are looking for a new home during this current shortage, then here is some helpful advice to securing your perfect property.
“Choose your price bracket and look at everything you’ve ruled out previously. Ask yourself why you ruled it out in the first place and is there any compromise. E.g. only has three beds, think outside the box, consider garage conversion or loft conversion which will add value.
“Make sure you get property alerts and keep in touch with your local agents, so you’ll be the first to know if a new home comes to market. Be open minded, and remember there’s no such thing as the perfect property,” says James.
“We strongly believe that there is a right house for everyone. It is advisable to make a list with your priorities, including your must haves and where you are prepared to compromise.
“Narrow down your search radius; be realistic in the area you are looking. Our best advice would be to make sure you have registered on all the local estate agents mailing lists and registered for alerts on Rightmove. It is also important to make sure your agent is aware of what you are looking for and your criteria.
“Avoid rushing into things, with such few properties available, we are finding that sellers are more likely to accept an offer from people in rented accommodation than someone with a chain behind them. Our advice would be to ensure your finances are in place, so you are in the best position to move quickly.
“Finally, keep looking. New properties are added every day, do not get disheartened and continue your search,” says Katie.
“Location is key. You should concentrate on what is essential, as you may need to make a fast decision.
“During a housing shortage, people tend to buy a plot or buy off-plan, which means that they are buying with a two or three year time frame. Watch the market carefully and take a long term view,” says Nuno.
For more information please visit www.fineandcountry.com