April looks set to go down as the busiest month for house sales of the year.
And with record numbers of properties predicted to go onto the market over the coming weeks, experts are predicting that it could end up being the most prolific period on record.
Here, in his latest column, property expert Jonathan Rolande, from House Buy Fast, who has been involved in more than 1,000 house-sales, looks ahead and shares his advice on how to make the most of the bonanza.
The property market remains in a really buoyant place right now. And with house prices continuing to soar, it’s little wonder so many people are gearing up to move. According to the latest data, the number of houses being put up for sale rose by 36% last month compared to the same time last year.
A glance at Rightmove shows 116,386 properties were listed for sale in February. This is up from 85,416 last February - an increase of almost 40%. All the data indicates that next month is going to see a real boom in sales and transactions. I predict we could see record numbers of houses being put for sale as people try to benefit from the continued increase in house prices.
It’s worth noting that prices are actually increasing at a much faster rate in places outside of London. So new hotspots for property are showing up and there are still great deals out there which is encouraging people to go for it.
However, it has never been more difficult to find and purchase your ideal property. The number of new homes being built is down far lower than it needs to be and every property coming to the market now has 29 potential buyers.
But buyers can get an edge by using some simple insider tips.
First of all - be realistic. No property is perfect so be prepared to overlook some minor issues with the condition, legalities or structure – if it’s a good property most things can be put right later.
Make sure there are no issues to overcome with the title of the property. Many properties have restrictions or covenants on the title telling you what you can and can’t do there. Many of them date from Victorian times and just aren’t relevant anymore but might, in unusual circumstances, cause a problem. If your solicitor is worried, ask them to take out an indemnity policy that will cover all legal costs if something goes wrong later
This sounds simple, but do try to meet the owner and explain why you like their house. Be open and honest. Most sellers like the idea of their home going to somebody they like – even a younger version of themselves.
In this market don’t haggle too much. Be assertive, make your best offer and stick to it. The price you pay is pretty much irrelevant within a year or two as prices are changing so quickly.
Another wise step is to ask your bank or financial advisor to print an ‘agreement in principle’ to prove you have the money to buy. If you’re a cash buyer, be prepared to show proof of funds.
Also, and you may not have thought about this: delete the embarrassing social media posts – many sellers check out their buyers to see how sensible they are.
Make sure you are courteous when touring someone’s home too – offer to remove or cover shoes, offer to wear a face covering and be seen to sanitise hands before you enter. Sellers appreciate the consideration.
I also urge buyers to sign up for alerts from all the property portals – you need to be an expert in the sector you’re looking at so you can spot a great property at the right price.
It’s also worth taking the time to research sold prices locally then find out how much prices are increasing there to help you work out your target price. The portals and www.ons.gov.uk are good for this but be mindful that the data is a month or two behind.
Don’t be afraid to befriend your local agents. Despite their reputation most are friendly, helpful and ambassadors for the local area – they are a brilliant knowledge resource. Build rapport by popping i to their offices – they might have just returned from an ideal property.
Once you’ve viewed somewhere, then be sure to ring the agent to give them feedback, if you’re not going to offer, tell them why so they can get a better idea of what you like. But be constructive, don’t say things like “it’s way overpriced” as the agent probably valued it.
Try to be flexible – for some sellers it isn’t all about the money. Aim to fit in with their plans, perhaps exchanging contracts with a long completion date would help them – find out why they’re moving fit around them where possible.
Don’t rule out a home because it’s ugly! It’s easy to paint, render, add new cladding, etc, to get it up to scratch.
Don’t be afraid to view homes a bit out of your price range that have been on a while – the seller might well be more realistic now and take a lower offer.
Also, something that is really important, but often forgotten is keep it quiet when you find your dream home and arrive at a deal.
Once your offer is accepted, don’t tell everybody. Word can spread and you might get gazumped. Wait for exchange of contracts before you tell everybody the good news and don’t announce it on social media. Good luck!
*Jonathan Rolande is a director at House Buy Fast