Advice for buyers and sellers: how to use lockdown productively

1. Get informed

  • James Greenwood says, “Research finance, brokers will be operating, and will know what’s going on in the sector.
  • “Have some serious and in-depth conversations with your family about where and how you want to live. Sometimes assumptions are made, and this period of isolation with your loved ones is a good opportunity for discussion. It’s possible that this outbreak will have changed people’s views about what is and what isn’t important.
  • “The internet is your friend, immerse yourself in Google Maps, street views, and local community or village websites. Watching property porn is not on the list of prohibited activities!
  • “Estate agents are in lockdown and much of their daily routine is restricted, so they’ll generally welcome phone calls to discuss property in a much wider way than they would usually have time for. Make the most of their availability, and establish relationships that will pay dividends at a later date.”

2. Get your house ready for sale

  • Craig Fuller says, “Deep cleaning is a very rewarding task, outside and in.
  • “Community websites are a good place to find tools that you might need temporarily such as jet washers.
  • “Taking on tasks that we have often outsourced can give you a new perspective – cleaning in corners, touching up paintwork, rearranging rooms and furniture, weeding gravel and between the patio cracks. Now is a good time to do the things that never get done.”

3. Get your paperwork in order

  • James Greenwood says, “As an existing or potential vendor start preparing a house file. It should contain a full property history including Title Deeds, latest bills, maintenance history, running costs, details of work undertaken including completion certificate from the Council, etc.
  • “A separate section should include as much useful information as you can imagine for a potential buyer – local tradespeople, local shops, pubs, farmers markets, schools, sports clubs. Think of everything you use locally, and fill in any gaps.
  • “When you come to sell you will be required to fill out a property information form (TA6). Now’s a good time to have a look at this form online, so if there are any tricky questions, you have a good chance to spend time finding the answers, digging out the right bits of paper, and seeking historical information that may be online.”

4. Think twice before you bite off more than you can chew!

  • Craig Fuller says, “finding somebody to fix botched DIY work is even harder! Know your skill level, and only embark on jobs that you know you can do, and for which you have everything you need. Half-finished jobs look worse than those that haven’t been started.
  • “Having identified work that needs to be done, keep in contact with tradesmen, and line them up – everybody likes plenty of notice.
  • “Clearly, the worst outcome at the moment is to injure yourself attempting DIY jobs that may be out of your comfort zone.”

5. Embrace the great (or little) outdoors

  • Craig Fuller says, “Gardening is a great way of passing idle hours, everyone’s capable and it’s a perfect time of year. Planting radishes and lettuces should produce satisfying results before the end of lockdown.
  • Get online quickly for seed supplies as the websites are doing roaring business, and try and get hold of plenty of potting compost before it goes the same way as loo rolls.

6. Larger projects

  • Emma Barkes says, “You may struggle to get tradesmen to come and assess building work, but put together your own amateur plans, measuring up, staking out extensions and seeing how it would affect your outside space, figuring out how software packages work or getting out graph paper, ruler, and a sharp pencil! You’ll be in a better place to brief architects or builders when the lockdown is over.
  • “It’s worth making calls now to line things up for later. There’s likely to be a surge of demand for these tradespeople, so any relationship you can forge now will stand you in good stead. And they will have time on their hands now for talking if not doing.
  • “If you’re all ready to go on a job, now would be a good time to get your planning application in. If you’re not ready, you can spend some time valuably working on preparing it, researching what might be acceptable, and building a planning case. Reach out to professionals who are still operating, albeit from home. But don’t be tempted to put in an application that you’ve done on the back of an envelope!”

If you’d like more information and advice about beginning your househunting journey during this time, contact one of our Regional Directors for a telephone consultation.

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