In the last couple of years, largely due to Covid and restricted viewings, many properties were sold off-market, without all the usual publicity through estate agents’ websites, encouraging bidding wars, but that trend is being reversed because buyers are no longer prepared to secure deals at too high a price. As one leading agent recently stated, ‘off-market properties are overvalued’!
Buyers committing to paying significantly over the odds also risk mortgage surveyors down-valuing.
With more properties entering the market and with competition still strong, when dealing with agents and sellers (who do not want to be messed around by people dropping out after a sale has been agreed), buyers can make themselves a priority by making sure the agent knows they are chain-free and/or a cash buyer.
First, be prepared. Having done your homework to identify the preferred location and style of property within your budget, sort out your mortgage in principle and instruct a solicitor. If you are chain-free and/or a cash buyer, make sure the agent knows.
There are usually reasons and timelines for moving, so make sure you assure them and their agent that you will meet their targets. First impressions are important, so be sensitive during viewings and avoiding negative comments. When you have decided that the property is right for you, build a friendly relationship with the vendors, who may have lived there for a long time and have an emotional connection with it. Following a death, probate properties may need updating, and beneficiaries will want deals completed quickly, so they can move on with their lives.
In all situations, be careful to clarify if furniture or other items are to be included in the sale, or if you wish to purchase them, extra payments are required.
Despite inevitable frustrations, always be polite to both agent and vendor, and honour the deal you have negotiated. Should a mortgage valuer question the price, talk to the agent, and see whether there is any flexibility if the agreed timeline can otherwise be met. Explain your own motives for wanting the property: access to family, a new job, changing schools.
You can sometimes exchange contracts with a delayed completion date by mutual agreement to meet all parties’ commitments. Sellers often leave a bottle of wine or flowers with a card for buyers when they move in, wishing them well. Buyers could do the same for vendors! All part of the charm offensive.
Our Mortgage Centres are happy to advise buyers – and vendors – on the most appropriate mortgage deals to ensure a smooth transition to your new lives.