Published: 27/01/2023Buying a property is a big commitment and we do recommend you take time to get your ducks in a row before your start your search. Read our tips below to get you in the best position to buy a property in 2023.
Sort Out Your Finances
There is no point in viewing something which you cannot afford and it’s quite upsetting when you fall in love with something before realising it is out of reach. Sort out your budget before you even think about buying. Keep in regular contact with a broker throughout your searching timeline – they have access to products which you will miss by going to the banks direct. Mortgage products come and go so something you were quoted two weeks ago may not be available today and a new product could have different criteria, impacting your affordability. Be honest in telling your agent what you realistically can and cannot afford – there is little point viewing something excessively out of budget if the agent knows the seller would never consider your financial level. Many agents will ask for a Mortgage in Principal (MIP) or Approvement in Principal (AIP) to show your affordability. Providing this makes you a more serious buyer and more attractive to sellers.
Take some time to visit locations before you start property viewings there. Get to know the neighbourhood, amenities and transport connections in advance so you know if it’s somewhere that you can see yourself living. Your agent will also be able to explain the area in more detail if it is new to you, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Be Willing To Compromise
Buying a property is about being flexible. It’s great to have a wish list, but understand it’ll be hard to find something which ticks every box, especially in central London. Try to be more objective with you search and learn where you can compromise; do you need outside space, or is it just nice to have? Do you need two bathrooms, or could you settle with one, if the rest of the property is suitable?
Forget About Floorplans
Get Into Design Mode
When searching properties, it’s easy to be drawn to the ones which look the nicest, because they have a similar aesthetic to your natural taste. But remember that you can change so much about a property once you live there! You’re always going to make a place feel your own, so stop obsessing over how much you don’t like that avocado bathroom and picture what a fantastic bathroom you can eventually replace it with! A property does not have to already feel like home to be “the one” for you – look beyond existing décor and personal choices and focus on the room proportions and how you can tailor the space. It takes some imagination but hugely increases your options and you may be surprised what you find. If you’re not sure how to unlock the home’s potential, look at bringing an interior designer or architect with you on a viewing. If you also tell your agent what you want from a home, then they can help you to visualise this more easily.
Find a Good Solicitor
Consider Additional Costs
As a buyer, you do have a number of costs to factor into the purchase. These include stamp duty, solicitor fees (which may or may not include your searches), survey fees and fees for your mortgage (if applicable). Understanding your costs at the start of your search ensures you’re less likely to run into nasty surprises further down the line.
A Reservation Fee
One of the challenges with the British property system is that there is little to secure the sale between the seller and buyer. This can leave you as a buyer vulnerable to the seller either withdrawing on your sale or gazumping your offer in favour of a higher one. Either way, this is an awful thing to happen as you have spent time and money on the purchase, and also have your heart set on the property.
One way we stop this is by implementing legally binding reservation agreements. For a small fee, this agreement cements commitment between you and the seller and then provides compensation if your seller breaks the terms of the agreement. We are proud that we’ve had a 100% success rate from Sold to Exchange* with these reservation agreements in place, and for a fee as low as £250 to put this commitment in place (and guarantee a minimum of £2000 compensation), it’s worth every penny to know you have confidence and reassurance that your purchase will go through.
Selling to Buy?
If you need to sell a property to buy, then you’ll be creating what is called a chain. Chains can be long and complicated which is why it’s so important to work with a reservation agreement as mentioned above, to protect and secure the entire chain. If you’re selling your property in order to buy something else, it can be really tempting to start your search before you’ve even hit the market. BUT STOP! Many sellers will not accept your offer, unless you’ve found a buyer. It’s fine to browse online and get a feel for what is out there, but remember in busy markets, some agents may not even allow a viewing if you need to sell but are not yet on the market. The best things you can do are:
- get your property valued, so you know roughly how this will affect your onward purchase
- list your property online and ensure your agent explains to buyers that you’re going to make an onward chain, so their expectations are managed. This also shows homeowners of properties that you are viewing that you’re serious about purchasing
- you can then gauge the market reaction to your home – it may take longer to sell than you think
- once you have a buyer, secure their commitment with our reservation agreements, so you know they won’t pull out and will wait whilst you find somewhere to buy. It’s all about honesty and communication!
- you’re now able to confidently offer on an onward property, as you have a secure downward chain and a committed and willing buyer, demonstrated through the signed reservation agreement. Congratulations!