Buying in the new normal world of property

While the property market has been officially ‘unlocked’, buying and selling in the current climate is far from normal. The process does need a lot more thought and a fair amount of finessing. Stacks Property Search advises buyers on how to make sure they’re not allowing the restrictions and protocols to get in the way of finding the perfect property.

James Greenwood of Stacks Property Search says, “People are still wary, and understandably being very careful. While we’re encouraging buyers to go and look at property physically, it’s often not possible to revisit as often as one might have done in the pre-Covid world.

“But if you’ve just spent over two months living with somebody incompatible, or in what is clearly the wrong house, you shouldn’t delay the moving process longer than necessary.”

Stacks advice for buying in the new normal includes:

Bin stores and other eye sores

Gideon Sumption of Stacks Property Search says, “Virtual tours are a good way of having a first look at a property without having to make an unnecessary journey, or go through a viewing process that turns out to be obviously unsuitable. But don’t set too much store by agents’ virtual tours; they have a place, but their limitations should be understood. In the same way that a brochure will show you the best pictures of a property in its best light, so will a virtual tour; they are absolutely not ‘warts and all’. Even the agents that would like to be more transparent will often be discouraged by the vendor who is required to approve the footage.”

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James Law of Stacks Property Search says, “If you’re selling, don’t let the onerous protocols put you off going through the usual process of obtaining a good valuation, and assessing a range of selling agents. You should have three agents come and see you and the property; stick to the rules, but don’t be tempted to skip this part of the process. If your property isn’t on the market, you’re going to find it hard to persuade selling agents to take you seriously when it comes to viewing properties you’re interested in.

“Some sellers and buyers are wary of getting down the line and coming across a second outbreak spike in the autumn. There are now much more sophisticated ways of dealing with the legalities of buying and selling in a lockdown scenario that will avoid you being bound to complete when you can’t move, so don’t let a fear of finding yourself stranded stop you. Make sure your solicitor has the appropriate knowledge in this respect, and try to avoid getting caught up in a long chain.”

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Tee up the finances

Clare Coode of Stacks Property Search says, “When it comes to buying, the market may at first appear thin, but the ‘grey’ market is much bigger. Many vendors will prefer that agents only release details of their property to buyers who are well-qualified in terms of finance and proceedability. So now more than ever you need to present yourself as an attractive buyer.”

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Research before you view

James Greenwod says, “Be very particular about which properties you view. There’s lots of research you can do in advance to ensure you’re not wasting your time or taking unnecessary risks. For example:

• Lots of map and Google desktop research to check out the area and the lie of the land

• Use Street View as an alternative to driving around the area

• The Environment Agency have great maps on anything from flood risk to noise pollution

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Better than a drive-by…

Clare Coode says, “In the old world we would recommend a drive-by in advance of a viewing. Now that viewings are challenging, consider asking for an external walk round which is easier to arrange, much less hazardous, and very revealing, especially when undertaken in tandem with checking out the floor plans.”

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Gideon Sumption says, “When you’ve done as much research as possible, there does come a time for most when a physical viewing does need to be undertaken. Be understanding, follow the protocols outlined by the agent, and don’t linger longer than necessary. Take exhaustive notes, and ask the agent if the vendor minds you filming your walk-through on your phone. It’s so easy to forget what you’ve seen, and great notes and visual references will cut down the number of follow-up viewings if you’re serious about a property.

“If your notes aren’t sufficiently detailed, and there are a few details you need to be reminded about, ask the agent to walk you through the house while you’re linked on a video call.”

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The market

James Greenwood says, “It’s almost impossible to predict what will happen to prices and supply, so don’t waste time waiting for things to move in a direction that suits you. If you’re in the wrong house, or living with the wrong people, now is the time to get on with making a move.

“Buying agents always put the buyer in an advantageous position, but now more than ever it pays to have somebody working on your behalf.”

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Call: +44 (0) 1594 842880


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