Metro - 01 November 2012
Buying Before Christmas
By Jo Eccles
The property market typically quietens down for Christmas in early December and doesn’t pick up again until the second or third week of January. It takes approximately 4 weeks from the time an offer is accepted to exchanging, i.e. when the purchase becomes legally binding, and another 2 – 4 weeks before you actually get the keys. Therefore, any seller who wants to sell and move before Christmas will be getting increasingly worried as the days go by. This is good news if you’re a buyer and can accommodate a pre-Christmas time frame, as a seller is much more likely to accept a lower offer in return for this.
So, how do you find out which sellers will do a deal before Christmas? Some will be very open. For example, I’ve seen some houses advertised with a ‘sale before Christmas’ banner, but others might be less keen to advertise to buyers that they need to sell urgently. In this case, having a good relationship with the local estate agents is key. As a buying agent, we’re lucky as estate agents tend to be much more candid with us, so we are likely to know a lot more about a seller’s situation than individual buyers will.
However, if you are an individual buyer, the better your relationship with the estate agents, the more you will glean from them. This involves you demonstrating to the agent that you are a credible and organiser buyer. Be upfront with them about your situation, explain that you can move very quickly, and also ‘sell yourself’ in terms of your financial position and be clear about what you’re looking for. Also, keep in regular touch so they remember you! This will reap you a lot of rewards, as many buyers often fail to do this. If a seller does discreetly tell an agent that they’re willing to do a deal if the buyer can move before Christmas, you want to be one of the lucky buyers given the opportunity to make the most of the situation.
If you do manage to secure a property on the basis that you can complete before Christmas, you need to keep your side of the bargain, so make sure that you’re ready to proceed with your solicitor in place and mortgage options already researched. If you’re not organised, and fail to meet the deadline you’ve promised, you run the risk of the purchase falling through which can be expensive as you will have wasted the fees you’ve spent.