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Homebuying secrets: How to get ahead

Insider tips from an estate agent

You've got the deposit, the right people behind you, and you're feeling ready enough to take the plunge and snap up your ideal home. In a highly competitive property market, we wish that buying a house was that easy, but it's not. To give you a bit of a boost, we asked Daniel Bourne, Senior Branch Manager at Douglas Allen, Barkingside, to share his secrets on how to give yourself the edge over other buyers.

Top tips for selling homes
Top tips for selling homes

1. Think carefully about your position

Many buyers successfully lose out on properties because of their position. Around 80% of buyers having nothing to sell, are first time buyers or are already under offer. Imagine finding the property of your dreams but the sellers have already found their dream home, they now need to sell quickly to avoid missing out on the property they are buying. So, if you are not in that 80% of people who are ready to go and instead are within the 20% that still need to sell their property you can pretty much count yourself out of the race or alternatively expect to pay a huge premium in an attempt to sway the sellers to accept your offer.

Furthermore you will likely end up having to sell for cheap as you will be under pressure to achieve a quick sale. On the contrary, if the homeowners of the property you are viewing still need to find a property, then do storm in and say 'I can move quickly and I have a buyer eager to buy my own house' as this pressure will be something the current owners will dread if they think it may take them a while to find their next home.

2. Think about the value of your agreement in principle

I've heard many prospective homebuyers say; "I have an agreement in principle (aip) so I won't have an issue getting a mortgage". This couldn't be further from the truth. AIP's are no longer worth the paper they are written on, in fact some banks even allow you to get your own AIP online. These also show up on credit reports. The way to really show a seller and an estate agent that you mean business is by coming in and speaking to the agent's broker. This applies, regardless if your brother, uncle or friend is a broker as sometimes, the only advice most agents will trust is their own.

3.  Making an offer successfully

Many sellers will reject the first offer so it makes sense to offer slightly under. However, do ensure you present yourself as a serious buyer. If you feel a property is worth the money it is advertised for only go 5/10,000 below the asking price and don't be scared to pay the full asking price as 5/10,000 on a mortgage is usually only £5/10 extra per week.

4.  Don't be scared of surveys

Even newly built properties can have small things crop up on a survey, if you are buying an older home don't expect a squeaky clean survey as it is rare you will ever find one. Expect that you might need to change a boiler or update electrics, although gas and electrics will always be flagged up in a report. A homebuyer’s survey will advise if an electrician should carry out an inspection and testing before contract exchange.  Property surveyors are not electricians. Only a registered electrician can say if the electrics are safe or dangerous. Unless the report highlights something ominous such as subsidence or knotweed, don't let a survey spook you and put you off buying your ideal home.

5. Selling up? My staging pet hates

Shampoo bottles when staging the bathroom and bins when staging the outside to me are a no no. A big pet hate of mine is net curtains and voiles as they don't suit many tastes. Lastly, many sellers feel the need to talk too much when showing a property. Sellers need to give people space and not oversell.