Buying a property is always exciting, but buying a ‘home’ is the most exciting thing of all, because it’s personal, it’s the foundations from which you live your life. Which makes it even more important to get it right; so where do you start?
Start with the boring part – what you can afford. Engage a mortgage broker and get a mortgage agreed in principle (obviously if you are buying in cash you can happily skip this stage, but then you’re probably happily skipping most of the time). It is VERY important that you know what you can afford before you start looking, there is nothing more likely to take the wind out of your sails than finding out you can’t afford the properties you have been viewing. It also gives weight to your offers, and more clout with the estate agents, especially since 26th April last year when getting a mortgage became a more challenging process. The same goes for getting your own house under offer if you are dependent upon the sale in order to purchase, you can always rent if you need to – being chain free gives you power.
Know your options; you can go it alone or you can engage a search agent. We have had many a client who, historically, would never have considered using an agent to buy but one thing or another lead them to our door. It is a common misconception that buying agents are an unnecessary extravagance for the über rich and famous in the buying process, but we do act for ‘normal’ people and we do add value, so understand exactly what it is that we do before you decide it’s not for you. The obvious advantage is that we give access to off market property and advance notice on ones coming up, that’s a given but we can add value and weight to properties which are on the market too. A client of ours recently decided upon a property which was on the market, we went to best and final offers and even though our clients bid was tens of thousands less than the best offer, the seller decided to accept our client’s offer, why? Because they saw them as serious buyers who had already financially committed to the process, with a professional team behind them that would make sure things happened in a timely fashion. They knew we would have done our due diligence and that our bid was thoroughly thought through before submission.
Find out who the main estate agents are in your area and meet them, make sure they know the strength of your position and what you are after, then keep in contact. Do not expect to be top of their list because you are in a position to move, there will be many others just like you, do not be embarrassed to call them on a regular basis – your efforts will be rewarded when you do start to be the first person they think of.
Do not be afraid to buy the first property you see, many a time I have seen people miss out on their perfect property because they were too nervous to go for it when they saw it early on. A successful search does not have to be long, drawn out and painful in order to be such. And if you have engaged a search agent, do not resent them for showing you something brilliant immediately, I often hear of buyers resenting their search agent’s bill because they did not get to see them sweat for their fee. Do not forget that you are not just buying their time, you are buying their experience, their expertise and their contacts, so if they do find something quickly then pat yourself on the back and consider yourself brilliant for having chosen the right professional and pay the fee you agreed gladly, safe in the knowledge they have saved you time too.
Avoid a bidding war at all costs, these drive prices up because people view them as a competition and their emotions get the better of them, if you don’t mind what you pay for your home then go for it, but otherwise beware – you don’t want to end up with buyer’s remorse.
When you are negotiating, avoid a long and drawn out process, it will not be in your best interests. Explain that your offer is on the table for a certain period of time after which you will move on (and mean it). Do not allow agents the opportunity to use your offer to drum up interest from teetering parties. You can’t blame them for trying, they are acting for the seller and they are just trying to get their clients the best possible price, if they were acting for you, you would be as pleased as punch so accept what it is and just do your best to avoid it when you can. Make your offer conditional upon the properties removal from the market upon acceptance and ask them to confirm that no further viewings will be conducted, whether or not the applicants have seen the property before or not.
Move as quickly as you can with the legal side; make sure your solicitor is in funds for searches and the exchange deposit as soon as they need to be. Make sure you have spoken to your bank in advance to confirm the notice period they require for the funds. Any delays on this front can rock the boat and you do not want the seller losing confidence in you. So keep in touch, email the estate agent to let them know what is happening when, and ask your solicitor to make themselves available to the agent whenever they need an update. They are small things, but they make a difference.