5th December 2014
A rush of homebuyers is expected after the shake-up of stamp duty has put more money in their pockets; here’s a homebuyer’s guide to make sure you find the right property and the purchase goes as smoothly as possible.
Henry Sherwood, managing director of The Buying Agents, said the seasonal slowdown in house prices could be counteracted by the stamp duty reforms, which will mean people buying property under £1 million will be far better off.
He said buyers need to be prepared for the new year when the housing market is tipped to take off again.
‘No one can predict the market will re-start before the impending interest rate rise and general election so you need to be prepared,’ he said. ‘There is still pent up demand from buyers and the changes in stamp duty could create potential for another property boom below £1 million in 2015.
‘Following a simple set of basic rules can ensure you gain a significant competitive advantage and are quicker off the mark than Lewis Hamilton come the first week of January.’
Here’s a homebuyer’s guide to help you plan your purchase:
1. Re-assess your requirements
Sherwood said homebuyers should use the Christmas period to decide what they want from their next move.
‘Cross out all the ‘nice to haves’ and concentrate on the essentials,’ he said. ‘You will get estate agents working much harder for you if it doesn’t take a long time to list your requirements and you can be clear about what you want.’
Finding a home isn’t just about working with estate agents, you’ll need a mortgage broker, solicitor and surveyor as well.
Sherwood said friends and family are a good place to start for recommendations and when dealing with a mortgage broker, honesty pays.
‘When you speak to a broker, be honest about income and expenditure because the changes brought in by the mortgage market review mean that lender criteria is far stricter than before and you will now need to provide a greater amount of detail about your financial circumstances,’ he said.
With time to kill over the festive season it’s no surprise that the Christmas period is one of the busiest periods for viewing property online. Property search portals give you the option to customise your searches and narrow them down to specific areas, and you can then set up alerts that will flag up properties in your area and within your criteria.
‘It is a good idea to set up alerts now to give you a head start before the January ‘viewing rush’ kicks in,’ said Sherwood. ‘The two biggest property portals (Zoopla and Rightmove) will list 95% of all property so set up alerts with both before Christmas.’
Setting up the alerts for property will allow you to record the prices for property in your area and allow you to build a comparable database.
‘This will help you identify the accurate market value for properties that are of interest to you,’ said Sherwood. ‘You will quickly be able to see which agents are listing your type of property so you can apportion your viewing time according.’
Sherwood said that many agents still add 10% to the market price to ‘win or ‘buy’ the instruction’ and listing the price per square foot in your spreadsheet you help you to gauge a fair price.
If you want estate agents to take you seriously, you need to talk to them, don’t just email.
‘Don’t waste your time emailing estate agents,’ said Sherwood. ‘If you do not pick up the phone to speak to the negotiators, you will always be the last person on their list to contact when a new property becomes available. Always call in the morning when agents are likely to be in the office and not out on viewings.’
A quick checklist: