First Get a “Mortgage in Principle”
Before you start looking for a place, first get a mortgage in principle.
If you have one you’ll know what you can afford. Once you’ve made an offer you can apply for the actual mortgage – which should then come through quicker.
This will help to minimise delays in what could become a race to buy your chosen home.
Some experts say people on the lower reaches of the property ladder should buy the biggest property they can afford.
This is because putting your money into property is usually seen as the best way to save.
Why? Well for a start, if you’ve got a monthly mortgage bill to meet it’ll automatically trigger you to act more sensibly. So you’re less likely to fritter away your money of fripperies.
And because property is one of the best ways to invest money, where it is almost guaranteed to outstrip inflation – unlike bank accounts and the stock market – this will stand you in good stead in the future.
There’s another theory that medium sized properties are easier to sell than small properties – eg a flat is easier to sell than a studio flat and so on.
However that’s become more debatable as the price of property has reached very high levels – to the point where people can probably only afford the studio flat.
Many professionals in the house buying / selling game are people best described as needing help to do their jobs and complete their tasks on time. That’ll be your responsibility.
The only thing they’ll definitely be good at is sending you a bill for their over-inflated fees.
To make sure things keep moving along with your deal:
Keep notes of who you’ve contacted and chase them up when the promised information doesn’t arrive promptly.
A good way to do this is to have a project book or file where you scribble everything down and can find it easily – as opposed to looking for scraps of paper you’re sure you put… er, where was it again?
Ideally this should include a diary/ calendar facility. If you can’t find a filofax calender or whatever, make one!
We have designed an online organising tool – Dooster – which you can use to manage your home buying / selling “project”.
You can email notes and ideas into it from anywhere – to sort through later. Plus you can set yourself start and due dates for tasks – and it’s also handy for storing any files / pictures and so on. Check it out at http://dooster.net/
Whatever tool you decide to use, the best time management rule is Do It Now. This particularly applies to anything that’s going to take less than say 5 minutes to do. Leave it till later and it’s forgotten forever.
Be Sure Of Your Chosen Home
Go round the property at least twice.
It’s important to have an objective opinion. Ideally bring a friend whose judgement you trust and encourage them to be as negative as possible. (Then try not to take it too personally).
Bear in mind that we often don’t take things in first time round so try to persuade them to go twice aswell.
Be Aware Of Selling Tricks
Nice smells – baked bread, coffee, flowers will soften you up.
Is there an issue about what time of day they’d rather you didn’t come? eg is playtime at the nearby school very noisy? Or is that when the twice daily goods train goes past? (You know, the one that takes half an hour of screeching metal.)
Have they moved furniture out to give the impression of more space?
It’s natural to want to make a good impression but you need to be sure it’s not to hide something that’ll cost you money to put right.
If You Want A Redesign…
Consider how much it will cost.
While a new coat of paint is OK a new kitchen or bathroom can be very expensive.
Consider the other costs involved
Commuting to work? Council tax? Any service charges (these can be over £1000 a year and are often missed by bad solicitors so watch out).
Keep Everyone Sweet
People tend to only want to deal with people they like and it’s claimed that some sellers are influenced by whether they like the person who’s going to be living in what was their home.
So if several people have put in the same offer they will probably choose the people they felt the best chemistry with.
Estate Agents aren’t influenced in the same way – some chance! But even they’re human.
For example; if you get into a shouting match with the agent they may well enjoy recommending to the seller that, perhaps it’s better to go back to those other people who seem to be a lot less trouble, and who, by complete coincidence (ie when the agent called them), have just confirmed they’re still interested…
The agent has power so ’nuff respect. For the full section on Estate Agents click here
Just be your sweetest self with everyone who’s involved. But try not to wheedle or sound too desperate.
Finally: keep in mind that some psychologists say that human interaction is more about the feelings people get from an interaction than what is actually said.
Get Things Left Behind
If you can sweet talk your sellers into leaving those blinds, or even that oldish freezer or dishwasher you could save a lot of money in purchases.
Trouble is if they know you want it, it would be understandable if they try and charge you – during the general money conscious feeding frenzy that some sales become…
Perhaps if you wait till the deal is done, and you’re at the stage when you’re all thinking about the practicalities of moving, then they may feel you’re doing them a favour.
“Hi it’s little old me here. How’s the packing going? I was wondering if you were thinking of hiring an expensive skip to dispose of anything… Perhaps I can save you the effort.”
Things To Avoid When Choosing A Home
If a property has been on the market for a long time then it’s to be viewed with some suspicion. Even if you fall in love with it how easy will it be for you to sell in the future if no one else wants to buy it now?
It may just be a drop in the local market… but be wary and don’t count too much on your brilliant plans to renovate it etc. There’s usually more than that to why it hasn’t sold quickly.
Consider what the noise might be like at times you haven’t been there ie is it near a pub? Mmm sounds like closing time again. Marvelous.
Is it near traffic lights on a busy road? It may not sound too bad during the day but what about at night when the 40 tonne lorries are roaring through…
Avoid buying too close to busy railway lines particularly those that carry a lot of freight trains – these can make a serious noise late at night. Check the train timetables or make enquiries.
Watch out for electric pylons and mobile phone masts. How far away are they? They are very off-putting for many people so even if you don’t think they’re a health problem they could devalue your house. There are constant new health scares in the media, particularly about mobile phone/ communication masts… these seem unlikely to die down.
Schools can be off-putting to some people who are at home during the day and don’t appreciate the noisy little lambs at playtime – or all those four wheel drives at home time.
Footpaths with their ancient rights of way can be a major devaluer. You can trace their routes with an ordnance survey map and if they go very close to or through your land – or even your house – they may be a problem.
Fumes from busy carparks are said to be increasing concern for asthmatics.
Make Sure The Sellers Have Moved
Are the sellers desperate to get things completed? Or is their new home stuck in a slow moving chain?
If things go wrong with their sale it could mean you end up waiting for months, possibly without a home (i.e. already having sold your own house) and having to pay over the odds for short term accommodation.
So while it’s usually a race maybe it’s a good idea to pace yourself.