It’s often said that property markets are either a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. (Although in truth they are a bit of both.)

In very simple terms buyer’s markets are ones where there are more houses for sale than buyers willing and able to buy. Seller’s markets are ones where there are fewer houses for sale than buyers willing and able to buy.

It’s fair to say that many areas are seller’s markets right now. They have many more buyers than sellers – and sometimes NO sellers at all. So any properties that do come up for sale tend to sell pretty quickly.

These tips might help buyers who are struggling to buy in a seller’s market.

Find out about the area

Do some research to find out about the market in the area you’re interested in buying in. Find out if it is indeed a seller’s market, and how much of a seller’s market it is.

You can gain some insight by asking estate agents to a certain extent. But a better approach is to monitor the listings on a property portal like Rightmove, Zoopla or OnTheMarket. Monitor how quickly the properties in that area (not just the ones you’re interested in) take from being listed to showing as sold or under offer.

Know what you want .... but be prepared to compromise

Every home buyer has an idea of what their ‘dream home’ should be like. But in reality your dream home doesn’t actually exist. So while it’s essential to have a clear idea of what you want it’s sensible to have a clear idea of what compromises you’re prepared to make too .... and how those comprises could be addressed. This will widen the range of properties you’re able to consider and so increase the chances you’ll be able to actually buy one.

For example, if you really want a three bedroom house but a two bedroom house with scope to extend became available would you consider that? If you really want parking but a house without parking came available would you consider that?

Consider a new build, or an off plan property

The advantage of house hunting for new builds is that there isn’t likely to be such a large number of buyers in competition for the exact same property. If another buyer snaps up a plot in front of you the chances are there’ll be another plot with a completion date a few weeks or months down the line which you can buy.

Be realistic about prices

It’s customary for sellers to consider offers below their asking price. But in a seller’s market you might have to offer the asking price as a starting point, and possibly even pay more. That said, be mindful about what you can afford.

Be a cash buyer if you can

Those with cash to splash are always more attractive to sellers. The advantage for buyers is that the purchase is likely to go through quicker, so less chance it will fall through or that you’ll be gazumped too. It’s not always possible, but sell before you buy if you can.

Have mortgage offer in principle

This will show you as a serious buyer, and help to speed things up. Be aware that as prices rise lenders are tightening their lending criteria too.

Have a solicitor or conveyancer lined up ready to act

Get some idea of who you’re going to use before you start to look, as well as a quote for the likely costs.

Although the pressure on solicitors and conveyancers isn’t as high as during the Stamp Duty holiday try to find out how busy/how keen they are when you speak to them. Even in these online times it’s often the case that time can be saved by choosing a solicitor or conveyancer either where the property is located, or somewhere near where you are living now.

Be proceedable

Being proceedable means that you are either a cash buyer, have accepted an offer for your current home, or at the very least that your house is already on the market.

In the very strongest seller’s markets you probably won’t even be able to view a new listing unless you’re proceedable. And the more proceedable you are the better.

Use every possible way of finding out about new listings

Relying on one method of finding out about new properties for sale isn’t a great idea, as you never know which method an agent will use to launch a new listing first. It’s sensible to sign up for alerts from agents, from portals, to keep an eye on agents’ listings and for signboards too.

You could also try signing up with a service that aims to tell you about properties that may be available before they actually reach the market officially, such as those being promoted by Boomin.

Be able to view fast

While remote viewings are the flavour of the year you really can’t beat ‘boots on the ground’ as a way not just of finding out if a property is for you but staking your claim as a buyer. Do everything possible to view a new listing as soon as you find out about it. If you’re buying with a partner always view with them and bring anyone else who might have a say in the decision too.

Be able to make quick decisions

It isn’t always easy to make quick decisions with such a big purchase but the quicker you can act when you view a property you like the more likely you are to secure it. Knowing exactly what you want, what you can afford and being as proceedable as possible will all help speed things up.

If you’re buying with a partner this can serve to slow down the decision making process if you don’t have your ducks in a row from the outset! Being crystal clear about what you want and are willing to spend is the best way of speeding things up.


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