Many of us want to buy a property, but it seems an emotional roller coaster ride with the serious money at stake high and fierce competition. How can you give yourself the best chance of securing the home you want?
You need to be organised – have a plan and stick to it.
But, what else can you do to get an edge? Here are some suggestions on how to get the house you want.
Have your finances and solicitor on standby
To get the house you want, you need to be seen as a reliable buyer, so it’s a good idea to have your paperwork in order before you start your search. There are many documents required to buy a house, so it helps to get prepared!
Estate agents get paid when deals are done, and they don’t want to cope with time-wasters.
Check your credit score
One of the first things is to check your credit score as early as possible. Get it into the best shape possible to find a good mortgage deal.
Have a mortgage agreement in principle
Having a mortgage offer (or a decision in principle) at the start marks you out as serious, and estate agents prefer buyers with their finances in order.
So, if you’re a first-time buyer with no chain, and you show you have already applied for a mortgage and have a deposit ready, you’re more attractive to a seller. In some cases, this is more desirable than a higher offer.
If selling your home, show you are serious by having your property on the market and a mortgage ready. Even better, show you have already accepted an offer on your property or sold it!
Find a solicitor
Finding a solicitor also shows you are serious about buying. This way, when you find the house you want, they can just focus on the conveyancing.
Dealing with estate agents
Your paperwork is in order, the solicitor is on standby, and you have a mortgage lined up, now’s the time to decide your strategy. Knowing what you want before you start talking to estate agents keeps you focused and can improve your chances of success when buying a home.
Put yourself in a stronger position
Establish what you are prepared to pay. Based on your budget, narrow down preferred areas, house prices and properties on the internet. Research the surrounding area with a property report too, it has as much impact on how much you’ll enjoy living somewhere.
Getting on an estate agent’s good side
If you are determined to get the house you want, it pays to be in an estate agent’s good books. This can take some effort but is worth it. To make sure you are one of the first people they call with new properties:
- Know what you want
- Know where you want to look
- Know how much you’re prepared to pay
Without a potential buyer, there is no deal. But, remember that estate agents act for the sellers and don’t need to keep you happy, so make sure you know what you want.
Meet them face-to-face
Visit all the estate agents in the area you’re looking to buy and register with each of them. Be polite – you need their help, but you are not paying their fees. That house you want could come from any one of them.
Visiting also helps to get an idea of how they operate, and you can start to build a relationship with them. It lets the agents put a face to a name, which may get you that golden tip-off to help you get the house you want.
Take their calls and answer their emails, and go and see properties they think fit your brief. Communicate regularly, and you’ll be top of their list when something new comes in.
Follow up on viewings
Estate agents are busy people, so you need to help them help you. Try to always follow up viewings with an email:
- Confirm your mortgage position
- Repeat your requirements
- Give feedback on the property you’ve just seen with them – the seller is bound to ask
- If the property’s not for you, let the agent know
By following up, you are helping the agent – they’ll appreciate it. Agents won’t phone 50 people if they can call five to sell a new instruction. Try to stand out and be one of those five!
Ask plenty of questions
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions when viewing a house. Asking now can save nasty surprises and by law estate agents must be truthful. Here are some things you may want to ask them:
- How long has the property been for sale?
- Does the property need any work?
- What will be included in the sale?
- How long have the sellers lived there?
- Why are they moving?
- Are they in a chain?
Knowing what to offer
Thinking of making an offer on a house?
Compare the agent’s answers to your own research to make a well-informed decision. Though agents can’t legally tell you the level of other offers, they should indicate if they are close to the asking price, and this can help your plan.
It’s also good for home buyers to understand the local market. If supply is tight and the property looks good, the seller may have the upper hand. Try to make your offer as attractive as your budget allows.
But, stick to your budget and don’t be pressured into offering more than you can afford.
The best offer doesn’t always mean the largest – you’ll hopefully know the seller’s motivations from your research, and can try to match your offer to them.
If there isn’t much demand for the property, or the seller needs a quick sale, don’t be afraid to start with a lower offer. Try not to go so low that they don’t come back to you, though!
An asking price can just be the owner or agent’s wishful thinking, so make an offer if your information and gut says to. After all, a house is worth what a buyer and seller agree, so remember your game plan and stick to it!
Make your offer stand out
Estate agents are obliged to treat all buyers fairly and pass on all offers to the seller. This includes right up to when contracts exchange, so don’t be put off if you are told the house you want is under offer.
If you want to get your offer accepted you may need to win the heart as well as the mind of the seller, especially if there is competition for the property. So try to find out why they are selling. Taking time to understand their situation can help you stand out from the crowd.
Let them know you love their property and hope they will accept your offer and when they do, ask it is taken off the market. This can reduce the risk of you being gazumped. Sellers don’t have to do this, but if you’ve built rapport, they may well agree.
If you’re really confident about the property purchase, you even could offer a small deposit as a goodwill gesture. This will give both sides comfort the sale is not going to fall through and make progress to exchange less stressful.
Stay in touch through the conveyancing phase
If you’re lucky enough to have an offer accepted on the house you want, don’t take your foot off the gas! Yes, it is now mainly down to solicitors and lenders to do their thing but keep in the loop to help move things along.
Ensure you stay in touch with the seller and agent, they will appreciate you keeping them up to date from your end and hopefully will do the same for you. Good communications may just give everyone that extra nudge over the finishing line!
Be sure of your facts before you put in an offer
Before making an offer, spend some time studying the property and area, because knowing key information about somewhere you want to call home is important.
Having a clearer picture of the property and seller can also tailor your offer and get you a better deal in the process. Estate agents will respect this effort (as it can save them huge amounts of time) and will work with you to help get the house you want.
A property report helps form a rounded opinion on a property you may be considering. It can help you to decide if the property is for you, and also help determine the best offer you can make.