Many buyers are nervous when they come to purchase a property and are not sure how exactly to act or negotiate. Unfortunately, as a result, we often see decisions being made by buyers that do not help them in the long run. So in light on this, I am writing this short blog to give a few tips on what to bear in mind when purchasing a property.
Build a good relationship with the agent
My first tip would be to build a good and trusting relationship with your agent. 100s to 1000s of buyers register with each agent looking for properties, so build a relationship with a Sales Negotiator so they understand your needs and really want to help you find that dream home. When you arrange appointments, stick to them, and try to avoid turning up late.
Case scenario – A buyer registers with an agent but is very rude and abrupt as they don’t like Estate Agents and see the registration as just a means to an end as they will mainly rely on the portals. As such they never return the agent’s calls, e-mails or messages, they don’t turn up to property appointments if they change their mind, and turn up late without apology or explanation when they do make it. The ideal house comes up and they miss out on this property because it is marketed with said agent before the property details make it to the portals and they have missed the opportunity to present themselves as genuine buyers.
Avoid cheeky offers
There is always the temptation to try your luck and go in with a cheeky offer nevertheless it is worthwhile being cautious. From a sellers’ perspective, a very low offer does not fill them with confidence about you as a buyer and can cause offence. This will not help overall if you do intend to increase your offer or if you are subsequently competing against someone else. It is also worth bearing this in mind when negotiating on fixtures and fittings. Most sellers will aim to leave their house in perfect condition for a new buyer, perhaps throwing in a few bonus fixtures and fittings or a bottle of wine / box of chocolates, however if you offend them when negotiating, they are much less likely to do this, and in the worst case scenario, more likely to strip the property.
Case scenario – You see a property you like on for £500,000 and think you will try your luck with an offer at £450,000. Your offer is predictably declined and then another interested party offers on the property as well. You increase your offer to £485,000 but the other party has come in straight away at a similar level and has secured the property as the preferred buyer because they did not bid low initially.
Negotiating a sale is all about compromise and whilst you will inevitably want to get everything your way if you can, always bear in mind that the sellers will have their own priorities and plans as well so always try to compromise where possible. We find this most crucial when discussing moving dates, if you can move on a different date to your preferred day despite it not being the ideal scenario, compromise rather than falling out with the sellers. You certainly don’t want the sale to end on bad terms or the sellers telling your future neighbours you are difficult!
Case scenario – It is approaching the end of November and you really want to move the first week of December as you want plenty of time to get settled before Christmas, but you haven’t exchanged yet and the sellers are worried there will be little time between exchange and completion and they still need to confirm removals, book in help from family to move and finish packing up their family home of 40 years. The sellers propose the week before Christmas to give them enough time to finalise everything so the agent suggests a compromise for the middle of December. You can do it but you would prefer not to so you insist you won’t move later than first week. The sellers reluctantly agree but subsequently refuse your request for access to the house prior to completion for measuring up and getting workmen round to quote, they don’t feel bad in taking their time on moving day as they have been rushed to complete early so you don’t get clear access to the house till later in the afternoon, they don’t have time or feel inclined to clean the house before they leave and they decide not to leave any useful information or dig out any manuals so you are left unsure how the heating works, where the stop clock is and when the bin man comes!
Don’t go back on your word
Think very carefully before committing to anything you think you may have to go back on. Sellers can quickly lose faith in you as a buyer if you agree to something you then can’t fulfil. Don’t suggest you can purchase without a mortgage, or without selling, if you know in reality you will need to once the sale is underway. Being as honest and upfront as you can at the outset will benefit you more in the long run and help create a smoother transaction.
Case scenario – You are self-employed and need one more month’s wages before your financial advisor has suggested you put forward your mortgage application. In the meantime you have had your offer accepted on a house but you know you need to wait 4 weeks to apply for your mortgage. The agent has asked for your survey to be booked in within 2 weeks. You decide to keep your financial information from the agent, in the hope it will be fine if you just blag the delay, but 2 weeks later the agents are chasing your survey and you have no explanation as to why it hasn’t been booked, raising suspicions you cannot actually afford the property. The agent has no basis to convince their client to wait for you, as they don’t know the genuine reason for the delay, and so the sellers ask the agent to remarket their property, which they do, resulting in it reselling to someone else for more money.
Don’t make empty threats
Unfortunately estate agents and solicitors hear them so often, and there is no telling when someone is making an empty threat, or when they actually do mean it. Empty threats are so common in property negotiation that even the clients involved don’t know whether to take them seriously. If something is not going your way, and you want to make a stand, always think carefully before you put the pressure on, and try to only say something if you are prepared to stick by it.
Case scenario – You want to complete this year but the seller wants to complete in the New Year so they have time to find a rental property. You can’t reach a compromise so you tell the agent if it doesn’t complete this year you will pull out and buy somewhere else. You really want to buy this property and you have bought all the furniture for it but you think this threat will make the vendor agree to your preferred dates. The agent relays your message and the seller decides that is fine, the market is strong anyway so they will remarket and find another buyer at a higher price. So they pull out of the sale and you are left without your ideal home and are inevitably having to move next year anyway by the time you find somewhere else.
Remember the bigger picture
It is very easy to lose perspective when buying a property, and often we see sellers and buyers battling over fixtures and fittings worth 10s of pounds when they are purchasing a property in the 100s of 1000s. Try to remember the bigger picture, and if a seller is insisting on taking the toilet roll holder, as frustrating as it may be, bear in mind that when you offered on the house, you chose it because of the space, layout and location, and buying a new toilet roll holder will be a lot cheaper than starting from scratch buying another property!
Case scenario – Your purchase is proceeding and you learn via the fixtures and fittings list that the sellers are taking their curtains, which you were hoping they would leave. You enter into lengthy and heated negotiations and end up walking away from the purchase out of principal. The property is remarketed and subsequently sells at a higher price and you unfortunately struggle to find somewhere else that suits you quite as well.
Buying a house is inevitably going to be stressful to some degree, but to avoid unnecessary complications, my advice to all potential purchasers is to negotiate fairly, compromise where you can and retain your perspective.
Happy moving! Kirsty Drabik