The housing market has boomed since the end of the first COVID-19 induced lockdown in May 2020. Properties have been selling as soon as they hit the market, and many are being snapped up before they’re even advertised.
So, where does this leave you if you’re eager to buy your next (or your first) home? How can you increase the chances of your offer making it to the top of the pile in a sellers’ market?
Do Your Research
If you’ve found your dream home and are eager to make an offer, wait! In a competitive market, if you’ve fallen in love with a property, there’s a good chance that others will be interested too.
Before deciding on how much to offer, find out all you can about the property for sale. How long has it been on the market? How much have similar properties in the same road sold for recently? Has the asking price been reduced? You may also be able to find out from your estate agent and in talks with the vendor while viewing what the reason for selling is and whether there are any other interested parties.
All of this will help you build a picture of how in-demand the property is and how much to offer to give you the best chance of success.
Win over the Estate Agent
The estate agent selling your dream property wants to make a sale as quickly as possible, earn their commission and move on to the next deal. Buyers who can move fast and are fully committed to their purchase are the holy grail for estate agents.
Put yourself in the strongest position as a buyer and give the agent a reason to champion your offer to the seller. First of all, take the time to build a relationship with the estate agent. Go into their offices, chat with them and be friendly.
Move quickly — be the first to request a viewing and make it clear that you are serious about buying. There’s a healthy balance to be struck here if you want to achieve the best sale price. If you display your enthusiasm for the property too strenuously to the seller, they are more likely to hold out for a higher offer.
Finally, and most importantly, get your finances in order. If you need a mortgage, obtain a mortgage in principle as soon as you can. This will help to “qualify” your offer and show the estate agent and the seller that you can afford to go through with the purchase. The best way to make sure that your offer is the one the seller is eager to accept is to make yourself a chain-free buyer. If you need to sell your current home before you can buy the new one, do this now! House cash buyers offer the fastest way to sell a property. You could be sold up and chain-free in as little as seven days. Chain-free buyers are an attractive prospect to sellers because there is no risk of property chain problems, which can lead to delays, expense and even a failed sale.
Set a Budget and Strategy for Negotiation
No matter how much you want a house, you must be clear on what your maximum budget is — and stick to it! In a buoyant market where properties are moving fast, and there is a lot of competition for popular houses, it can be tempting to go in with a sky-high offer from the get-go. But beware of this approach. You can always raise your offer if a lower one is rejected, but you can’t easily negotiate down (unless something unexpected crops up in the survey further down the sale process).
That said, avoid making a ridiculously low offer. Refer back to your initial research to give you an idea of how much is reasonable. If you start too low, the sellers could discount you as not being a serious contender and refuse to even consider any subsequent offers, especially if they are inundated with bids.
Every seller wants a simple house sale that moves in a timescale that suits them. If there is a lot of demand for the property you’re interested in, be as flexible as you can and avoid making demands. Even at the offer stage, sellers may be put off if they sense you will be difficult about agreeing on a completion date that suits you both or if you’re likely to have unrealistic expectations about what’s included in the sale, for example.
If the sellers have yet to find a property to buy, make it clear that you’re in no rush and happy to wait for your dream home. If there are a few minor repairs and home improvements to make, reassure the seller that you’re happy to undertake these when you move in, and you won’t be making demands about them completing the work or reducing the sale price to cover your costs.
You want the seller — and the estate agent — to view you as the dream buyer, just as you see the property as your dream home.
If you’re trying to buy a house in a sellers’ market, it can quickly become demoralising and frustrating. Don’t despair. It may feel like the situation is out of your control, but there are actions you can take to improve the chances of your offer being accepted. It may mean slowing down and spending more time researching and preparing to put yourself in the strongest position as a buyer, but it will pay off in the end.