Being flexible, widening your search: buying in today’s market

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4th May 2022

It’s a difficult market for buyers at the moment, especially in certain property hotspots, and if compromising isn’t something you’re naturally inclined to do when looking for a new home.

Over the past 18 months there’s been an increase in people wanting to relocate from urban areas to more rural locations. Buyers often struggle to find the home that ticks all their boxes, in the right area, at the right price. Viewings per property have increased, and a shortage of stock has resulted in offers being put in well above the asking price.

We spoke to Jack Holmes, Sales Manager at Alexander & Co in Bicester, about what prospective buyers could do to broaden their search across further locations, jump to the front of the queue or be more flexible within their budget.

Can you think broader?

Finding the right house for you within your budget may mean widening your radius when it comes to the areas you’re looking at. Ask yourself if you can compromise on location: could you drive seven miles down the road and get a lot more for your money? Take the time to go in-depth with your research and see what further locations have got to offer in terms of schools, amenities and transport links.

Jack comments on what’s happening locally: “In terms of being flexible on the area you want to live in, around Bicester some of the older villages are slightly cheaper, but growing in price quite quickly,” which is worth taking into consideration.

Wriggle room in your wish-list

Your property wish-list is also something that may need to be compromised on. Jack explains:

“People are always going to have a list of things they want from a new home. My advice would be to keep the top two things on that list, and then adapt as you go forwards. Even if money was no object, you’re not going to find a property that’s got absolutely everything on your wish-list.”

What people want and what they need are sometimes two different things. Our teams ask buyers why they want certain things, and then break down these criteria into detail. For example, a buyer might want a garage to keep their bicycles in. Instead of a garage, is there a big enough garden to build a secure shed? It’s useful to establish these things and work out what can actually be compromised on by being more creative.

The power of connections

Buying is often an emotional decision, but selling can be too. Jack picks up this point:

“When you’re visiting a property you’re interested in, see if the owners can be present: meeting the owners can sometimes make a difference in proceeding with the purchase.”

It can be worth explaining to the vendor why the property appeals to you so much: it may be because of a personal story that resonates with the seller, and they might decide to go with your offer (which might not necessarily be the highest offer they’ve had). Sometimes sellers go with the person they feel is best suited to their property.

Patience is still a virtue

Are you able to hang on for your perfect property? Make a ‘no regrets’ final offer, and be patient? Jack goes into what it takes:

“If the seller of the property you want to buy is yet to find somewhere to move into, put your offer down in writing, but put no pressure on them. It can really help if you’re patient and prepared to wait, perhaps even up to 12 months. It makes you really stand out as a buyer.”

The speed with which offers are made is especially difficult for first-time buyers, who are viewing properties and exploring what they like for the very first time. Sometimes they might see a property and like it. When asked for feedback, they might say to the agent that it’s the first house they’ve looked at, so are reluctant about proceeding. Of course, you can empathise with their situation, but we often have to tell them that the property is likely to be under offer if they come back to it later.

Flexibility is the key to moving forward

From suggesting alternative local locations and property styles, re-evaluating wish-lists and thinking creatively about living and outdoor space; to being prepared and able to act quickly when a suitable home does become available, our teams are on hand to help you think flexibly in a difficult market that’s low on property stock.

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