Sixty Plus Surfers, September ‘22

How to be a thrifty property buyer

Quoting James Greenwood, Charlie Rearden, Gillie Pearce and Sara Ransom of Stacks Property Finders

With the cost of living and interest rates rising month by month, Stacks Property Search comes up with some ideas for property buyers who don’t want to overstretch themselves.

James Greenwood of Stacks Property Search says, “Buying a property that you know you can sell if you need to is important. If you have any concerns about job security, or ability to meet mortgage payments, avoid anything that requires a lot of work to achieve its potential; or anything that’s blighted by, for instance, road noise or a house that’s too big for its plot.

“Keep the accommodation flexible so you can potentially let out a room if times get tough. An annexe is ideal, however small; it can serve as occasional space for relatives as and when required that doesn’t need heating when it’s unoccupied; or a source of income, or for office space. Bear in mind that the Airbnb and staycation market isn’t as strong as it has been in the last couple of years.

Charlie Rearden of Stacks Property Search says, “Buying a project in the current market is not for the faint hearted; prices for building work are rising as fast as everything else, getting a firm quote is almost impossible, and it’s difficult to even find available tradesmen.

“A project that you can’t complete is a very worrying position to take. But if you’re good at DIY, and have time on your hands, a well-priced project that is within your own capacity is a great move.

“Watch the market like a hawk, and know exactly what’s been on the market for how long. If you can step in when a sale falls through, or where the vendor is getting frustrated with delays, you may be able to walk into a ready-made attractive deal.”

Gillie Pearce of Stacks Property Search says, “If you’re concerned about running costs, be wary of Listed properties that are expensive to run and maintain. A retro-fitted or new build property with a good EPC may look expensive by comparison, but the running costs will be significantly lower and you won’t have to factor in the substantial costs of retro-fitting in the future.

“Stretching your commute by twenty minutes or so can save you as much as 20% on property price. Or move your search from Suffolk to just over the border into Essex and save yourself 10%.”

Sara Ransom of Stacks Property Search in London agrees. She says, “You can buy pretty much the same house in Balham instead of Clapham and save as much as 20% while being only a couple of streets away.”

Charlie Rearden says, “What’s also worth factoring in is that different counties have wildly different council tax rates, for example, Rutland is renowned for its higher rates. Moving over the border into Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire or Leicestershire will pay dividends, and property prices are lower too.

“Flexibility on your location is the best advice for a thrifty buyer. £650-£700,000 buys a three for four bedroom semi-detached property in Rutland, but the same money will buy a five bedroom farmhouse on the other side of the A1.”

James Greenwood says, “Buy for the long term. The costs of moving are extremely high and will only go up. Buying something that you can adapt as your needs change is the best favour you can do yourself.”

Sara Ransom agrees, she says, “If you’re buying a flat in London, instead of pushing yourself to buy three bedrooms now, buy two bedrooms with the potential for a loft conversion that you can do when you need it, and when times are less tight.”

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