With the Christmas tree twinkling in the corner and presents piled high, the last thing on your mind is moving house... however, when the last mince pie has been eaten and the fairy lights are packed away, buying a new home is top of the New Year's resolutions list for many people.
However, with property stock at a low, and more people than ever chomping at the bit to get on the property ladder before prices sky rocket, there are a few simple tricks to remember to help you bag a your property bargain in the New Year:
1. Get organised before you start: if you are reliant on a mortgage, try and get it agreed in principle before you start your search. Having this secured will make you an attractive prospect, and you'll have much more bargaining power if you spot the sale of the century.
2. Don't do too many viewings: if you have a property to sell, try and resist the urge to go out on too many viewings before you have got your property on the market. With properties flying off the shelves, you risk falling in love with a home and then having to rush around getting your property advertised and viewings arranged. If you struggle to sell your property for any reason, you risk the owners of your dream home getting frustrated and moving on to a more viable viewer - a very upsetting situation!
3. Be open to options: with stock at a premium, you have to be willing to think outside the box, and be flexible about what you are looking for. Set out clear guidelines about your ideal property and then jump into the search - see everything that you can, and then more! Having very set ideas of what you want, with no room for flexibility in today's very closed market is a recipe for disaster but don't compromise on every element - you don't want to end up buying a top floor flat when what you really want is a bungalow with plenty of garden space!
4. Be realistic: there is much talk of Brexit causing a property crash, and many buyers are holding off starting their search and waiting until prices go down to affordable rates before they make their move. Whilst it's true that the political landscape can certainly shape the property market, and the recent uncertainty has contributed a slight fluctuation, it's highly unlikely that we're going to see a significant impact any time soon - and anyone who is holding off on finding their perfect home... well, they could be stalling indefinitely! Take the bull by the horns and get out there, 2015 and 2016 both saw prices slowly creeping up, so delaying could in fact cost you money!
5. Take advantage of the market: a lot is set to change for the rental market in April 2017, when tax changes for landlords could see a lot of investors throwing in the towel. If you're keen to take the first step onto the property ladder an ex-rental property could be an ideal opportunity to bag a bargain, however you should be ready to potentially do some work to get the property in the sort of decorative order that you want. That said, given the legislations that landlords must abide by, if you are considering buying an ex-rental property you can be certain that you will be making a purchase that has been well maintained. With strict guidelines governing gas safety, energy efficiency, legionella and electrical safety, you are less likely to uncover nasty (and potentially expensive!) surprises in a property that has been overseen by a landlord or property management company.
6. Move fast: it's a tough market for buyers at the moment, so you have to be ready to move quickly if you fall in love with a property. With lots of eager homeowners, and little property stock, it's every buyer for themselves - if you're keen to move, you've got to get moving!
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