Metro - 04 October 2012
House Hunting – Round 2
By Jo Eccles
Last week, I wrote about my own property search, and how to navigate the momentous task of actually getting started and approaching the search in a productive and methodical way.
On my own search, we are now at that stage where we’ve narrowed it down and are pretty clear on what we want. We’ve decided the minimum space we’re willing to settle on, the ideal footprint of the property we want to buy, and the two areas we’re looking at. This is where we start to get focused. We have reluctantly let go of the areas we love but can’t afford, and have decided to focus on space instead. With stamp duty at such high levels, my husband and I are keen to avoid moving again anytime soon, and our decision certainly echoes the decision a lot of my own clients are making right now.
One of the areas we have settled on is an area my husband initially ruled out on paper. It’s very common for buyers to disregard areas or individual properties because they don’t like them on paper. When searching on your own, I would strongly recommend looking at options you’re not initially keen on and keeping an open mind at the start. Once you’ve done a few rounds of viewings, you can then start to narrow the search. Don’t try to do it too early, as more often than not, an option you weren’t keen on can be a pleasant surprise which you would have otherwise ruled out.
If you’re looking to buy and you’re at the same stage as us, then my advice is to now start building relationships with the estate agents in the one or two areas you’ve whittled your search down to. It’s likely you can now give a fairly specific (and realistic) brief of what you want. This makes an estate agent’s job much easier to match a property to you, and agents are likely to take you much more seriously if you have a clear brief of what you want.
As a buying agent, at this stage I would pick up the phone to every estate agent in the areas I’m focusing on – we have a custom built system which has all the agents listed by coverage area, so I know that no agent will be missed off my list. If you want to know absolutely nothing has been missed and that you’re seeing properties which aren’t yet on the market then it’s a good idea to call in a good buying agent. However, if you’re searching alone, I would suggest that you call the main local and mainstream agents. This won’t give you thorough search results but it’s probably the most efficient way of approaching this.
Most agents should start calling you (well this is the theory but in reality this isn’t always the case unfortunately!) so it is always a good idea to stay in touch with them too, and try to build a good rapport with them. Don’t forget though, the agent’s allegiance is still with the seller and trying to obtain the highest price from you, so don’t be too open with them.