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How to bag that dream house (in a tough market)

Securing a house you've got your heart set on usually spells S.T.R.E.S.S! But what if it doesn't have to be that way? We grill property expert Becky Sage for her gold-dust tips on how to move and keep your sanity.

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Who’d be a house buyer in a pandemic? As it turns out, millions of us! Lured by the appeal of open spaces, flexible working and easy commutes to nearby cities, the rural property market is the most competitive it has ever been.

It all means it’s a seller’s market, which whilst great for sellers, presents real challenges for those also looking to buy. But there are ways to make moving (relatively) stress-free.

Property expert Becky Sage from Sage Residential in Uley is an estate agent who knows her bricks and mortar. Want to steal the strategies that could secure you your dream home?

Here are Becky’s 9 top tricks and tips for bagging a house *read them before someone else does*.

1. Be market ready

Most of us don’t want to commit to leaving our homes until we have our onward move, but it’s competitive out there and time is not your friend. Have your agent assess your home, prepare a brochure with photography, EPC and floor plan, so that you are ready to come to the market at the click of a button. A market ready approach can save you a 10 day delay in coming to market, a significant number of days in competitive times. Plus you can be in your agent’s ‘bottom drawer’ (or today’s digital equivalent!) should the perfect buyer come their way.

2. Get to know your agent

In this digital age where human contact is often deemed unnecessary, pause to consider the importance of good communication. A good agent will listen, understand your needs and be a great asset; they could introduce you to a property yet to come fully to market (never underestimate the depth of the ‘bottom drawer’), and in a best bids scenario they can vouch for your position if they’ve got to know you.

3. Get your ‘ducks in line’

In the current climate you are likely to be bidding against others, get your ‘ducks in line’ so you can present your offer in an informed manner. Include the AIP (agreement in principal) / DIP (decision in principal), equally evidence of your deposit is important, this can be a bank statement or mortgage statement. If you have an associated sale provide as much detail as possible, including how far progressed your buyers are.

4. Reduce your chain

In a competitive market there will often be multiple buyers for the property, offers will be assessed using a number of criteria and the more links to a chain, the more points of vulnerability there are – many people are opting to break chains, stay with family or rent in the short-term to improve their position. This is all well-and-good, but you consider factors such as ease of finding the right rental property (a market that is also highly competitive), particularly if you have pets or specific needs, the cost of additional removals and storage, and the fact that property values may continue to increase which could impact on your future purchase.

5. Pick your agent wisely

Pick an agent who you can relate to and make sure this individual will be involved throughout the transaction, not just for the initial valuation! 90% of the work your agent needs to do for you occurs ‘post sale’. The value of a good agent may not be immediately apparent, when houses are ‘selling themselves’, however there’s a big difference between ‘securing a buyer’ and ‘selling your home’. If you don’t pick wisely you can find yourself in the costly and disappointing position of losing buyers which in today’s ‘nowhere to hide’ digital age does not reflect well on the future marketing of your home.

6. Focus on the photography

Photography has become an increasingly important tool in recent years, never underestimate the value of exceptional photography. Your agent’s photographer should have the kit, know-how and post-production tools to make your home shine. But make sure they are true to life, avoid fish-eye lenses and inaccurate filters which can only lead to disappointment when the prospective buyer views the property.

7. Pick your conveyancer well

Communication is key when it comes to conveyancing, make sure you appoint a professional who has adopted modern techniques (communicating by email rather than in writing), it may sound simple but it can transform the process and reduce stress significantly. They should work alongside your agent to ensure a smooth sale.

8. Prepare documentation

Sales are taking longer than ever because of the volume of transactions, therefore it’s important to be on the ball with your documentation. At the point of instructing your agent I’d suggest also appointing your conveyancer so that you can complete forms and supply documentation without delay, and be prepared to hit the ground running once you secure a buyer.

9. Moving day!

Most removal firms won’t allow you to book a date until you’ve exchanged contracts but it’s worth getting quotes and selecting a few firms you are happy working with way in advance. Look out for caveats regarding extra charges if completion is delayed, the insurance for valuables and any specialist removal requirements. Many companies will pack for you, and there are even people who will help sort your possessions before you pack and help you unpack and organise at the other end – all making the process much simpler. Your agent should be able to recommend local removal companies with a good track record.

Looking to move? Call Becky Sage at Sage Residential for an informal chat. Sage Residential is a bespoke estate agency with a customer-focused and consultative approach to selling homes covering Uley, the Cotswolds and surrounding areas.

Becky Sage

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