How to get a good deal when you buy a property; saving thousands of pounds on the asking price

If you know what you’re doing, you can get the perfect property at the best possible price – whatever the market.

Despite a slowdown of the property market in many parts of the UK, there are always areas where competition for properties is more intense. London is the obvious example but there are others – anywhere with tight planning restrictions and where owners tend to hang onto their properties rather than selling them and ‘moving up the ladder’. If you’re looking to buy in one of those locations, you need to put a little effort into making sure you don’t pay any more than you need to for your new home.

Research the market

In many areas the market is very localised. We talk about the UK housing market, but the fact is that values can vary significantly between neighbouring roads:

  • Property prices can fluctuate significantly from one area to the next. This can be due to amenities, such as shops, schools and restaurants or transport links, such as train stations, major roads and tube stations, being close by. SAVVY TIP: Being handy for the tube/railway or road network is one thing, being on top of it is another. If a property is too close to a train station or busy road it could be hard to sell.
  • Prices can even vary between floors in apartment blocks. Penthouse flats will normally sell for the most, basements (especially if they aren’t light) may be marked down. SAVVY TIP: Take the time to understand the market you are buying into – learn the good streets from the bad, the good buildings from the bad and look out for obstacles that would make a flat difficult to sell. Often when a property seems too cheap, there is a very good reason for it.

Build relationships with your local estate agents

They (should) know the market, and if you take time to build a relationship with the right estate agents, this will make all the difference.

  • Make sure the agent knows that you are a serious buyer. Tell them if you have your finances in place and that you can move quickly if the right deal is there.
  • Bear in mind that estate agents don’t work for buyers. They work for sellers and are motivated to achieve the highest possible price.

Think about using a buying agent

A reputable, independent buying agent should ensure that the entire buying process is much less stressful and time consuming, but also that you end up buying the right property at the best possible price.

  • Due diligence is important when selecting your buying agent. The market is now flooded with hundreds of people claiming to be “buyers agents”. SAVVY TIP: Personal recommendations are always good, but failing that, look for a firm that has a good track record. Ask them how many transactions they have completed in the area you are looking to buy in and ask for client references.
  • Ensure you work with a buying agent that is independent. Many buying agents are owned by estate agencies and are therefore may not be independent. SAVVY TIP: Expect to pay between £2,000 and £3,000 to register and get the property finding process underway. Some buying agents charge a fee based on how much they save you off the asking price, others a fee of 1.5%-2.5% of the purchase price.

Work until the deal has been sealed

Once you have found your dream property, that’s only half the work done! Many deals – in England and Wales – come unstuck after an offer has been accepted.

  • Ensure you put your offer forward in a professional manner. Do it in writing, stating how you intend to finance, how quickly you can move and who your solicitor is going to be.
  • There is no safeguard against “gazumping”. There are tactics you can use, such as putting down a non-refundable deposit and securing an ‘exclusivity agreement’ (otherwise known as a ‘lock out agreement’) on the property. SAVVY TIP: An exclusivity agreement means that, for a limited period (normally a few weeks) the seller agrees not to show the property to anyone else. It gives the buyer time to arrange a survey etc.
  • Get the right team in place. Don’t skimp on your conveyancing solicitor as a good lawyer acting for you on the purchase can be the difference between losing and securing your ideal property.