My first blog of 2022 reflects the structural changes in the Harrogate property marketplace over the past two years where demand for larger apartments and houses with outdoor space has coincided with a decline in the supply of these self-same properties leading to more competition and an increase in prices (and the costs of renting).
Our message to prospective buyers; you may be forced to think more closely about ways to set yourself apart from others in our overheated competitive local marketplace. Just for starters, you really do need to have a Solicitor in place and a MIP (Mortgage Agreement in Principle) from the very outset. These same imperatives apply to “Best & Final”/sealed bids purchases.
So, in a competitive marketplace, buyers have several new ways of finding “an edge” to secure their dream home.
OFFER A DELAYED COMPLETION
The usual time between the exchange of contracts and completion is 28 days but you may be able to offer more flexibility. Both parties still agree on a sale price and the buyer will still pay a deposit on exchange, but both will sign a contract agreeing to delay the completion date for anything from a few months to a year. This could be interesting to sellers who need more time to find a new home to buy. However, buyers must ask that the risk for the property and the responsibility for ensuring it remains with the seller until completion. The buyer should also check that their lender gives them leeway for delayed completion, as many mortgage offers are only valid for six months. It’s also possible that you may have to renew your searches.
OFFER TO PAY THE EXCHANGE DEPOSIT TO THE SELLER
Some sellers are asset-rich but cash-poor and need access to money, to pay the deposit on a rental or for moving costs etc. Rather than the seller’s solicitor holding all the exchange deposit (typically 10 % of the purchase price) until completion, you could agree to release a portion to the seller, through your Solicitor at the exchange. There is a tiny risk that the seller could go off and spend the money and then not complete but it could put you ahead of other purchasers.
Top tip – in a tight situation – a generous offer for the “fixtures and fittings”/artwork/dog kennel, etc could be decisive (but not expensive in the bigger scheme of things).
If, for example, you want to buy a leasehold property you need to have owned the property for two years before you can apply for a lease extension. Usually, buyers require the seller to extend the lease. A keen buyer however could take the lease as it is and ask the seller to serve a lease extension notice and, at completion, simply assign the benefit of that notice to the buyer.
SELL TO THE ESTATE AGENT
Be serious and decisive. When you ring your estate agent with an offer to confirm that you are proceedable/committed, have the POF (Proof of Finance) documentation in place, and that you will instruct your solicitor to carry out the searches the same day the vendor accepts your offer. It’s usually best to keep things on an entirely professional basis and let your estate agent do all the negotiating but its also true that sellers tend to love their houses and ideally want to sell to folk who are nice and friendly so it is sometimes an option, in company with your agent, to meet and say hello after making a serious offer.
Finally, in the real world, vendors also need to be savvy and must: Make sure the property their house is in good order/present it well with good photographs/emphasise the potential/instruct a good Agent (I recommend Myrings) – and bear in mind that right now if a good property isn’t selling it probably means that it’s overpriced. If you plan to cut the price, be bold and make just one significant change, not several little ones. A reduction of 5% is often the minimum required to reinvigorate interest, and a 10% change can be needed.
If you are a Harrogate homeowner or involved in the local property market in any way then please contact us for a free no-obligation chat about the above and the property services we provide in residential sales & lettings.