Obsession can cloud rational thinking and nowhere is it more prevalent than when buying a new home. Covid has amplified it, propelled by parts of the media suggesting that there’s a rush to get out of cities. Making a lasting, or indeed any, move requires patience, planning and iron self-discipline.
1. Get an honest valuation
So how can you plan whilst staying aloof and objective? Get some idea of what you’re going to be able to sell your home for. Talk to three agents and do your research – do they usually sell the kind of property you own? Once you know how much your property is worth, add in the potentially huge transactional costs. SDLT, legal fees, selling fees, moving costs plus a significant contingency for unexpected problems/changes. If your property is below £500k it’s still entirely possible these costs will add up to at least 5 per cent of the total sale price and remember, that’s out of your cash or deposit. If you’re moving at over £1 million costs could well be 10 per cent and much more, so be realistic.
2. Do the groundwork
Next, check you can get roughly what you want where you want and then stop looking. Instead, prepare everything necessary to sell your home. Make sure your you get a good solicitor immediately. Do not wait until you have an offer, and ensure they have everything they need to send out a contract instantly when you have a selling offer agreed. Beware of overpaying for something because you get ‘auction fever’, without being able to transact, then underselling what you own in a panic to secure the new property. If you’re a couple this is maximum stress time as invariably there will be agendas, and both will be lying if they’re not regularly portal gazing, so don’t walk about on eggshells and keep talking.
Wait for an offer – if it doesn’t come at least you won’t have wasted valuable headspace in your purchase and don’t panic – you always have options.
3. Start your search with an offer under your belt
Once you have an offer agreed you’re in that period agents love. With an exchange date looming, you’re ready to go. This is peak search time and with many agents’ websites giving plenty of info, you hopefully won’t have to waste too much time actually out and about. Use Google Maps and fabulous data tools like Sprift to check info on the house you’re looking at.
Have fun looking and don’t be afraid to make silly bids. Brits are hopeless with money and always think getting 1 per cent off the price is a result. Don’t get bogged down though, paying over the odds for what you want will probably pay dividends in the long run and if they say yes to a bid at more than 10 per cent below asking then cheers all round. At this stage a good reliable and well remunerated solicitor will be reassuring for both you and the agents involved.
4. If the price isn’t right, don’t sell
If you can do all the above, you’re superhuman – but it can be done. If not, you have options. If the price you’re selling for isn’t enough for where you want to go, you could wait for the market to change – but remember it will probably change where you’re buying too, or you could rent out your house and try renting in the area you want to move to. This has the double advantage of lessening the financial shock if it’s not, as well as giving you the chance to check out whether it really is your dream spot.
Lastly, try not to call the market – it’s a mug’s game.
Ed Mead is Co founder and Chief executive of property viewing service Viewber. Twitter: @ed_mead