The current market is back in the doldrums and when the property market is falling, past experience tells us it’s a great time to bag a bargain and buy a house at a discount that you are unlikely to get in the coming years. Here’s a step by step guide on how to buy a property by haggling down the price.
1. Get your finances sorted!
The key success to securing a bargain property is to be able to buy quickly. vastuplus This means you need to have either cash or as good as cash with a hefty deposit and a lender that is capable of making funds available in a few weeks, rather than the normal six weeks they take.
2. Find a legal company which can exchange quickly
The legals for buying and selling a home can take months. Much of this is down to poor conveyancing companies. So if you want to bag a bargain, it’s vital to ensure you work with a legal company that can work to tight deadlines and isn’t reliant on one person to do the work, in case they go sick or on holiday.
3. Understand where to get property bargains
Property bargains are secured when people are desperate to sell. There are lots of reasons why someone might sell a property at a bargain price which include:-
(a) The three ‘D’s -Death, Divorce and Debt
Sadly things happen in life to homeowners that force them to have to sell their property at less than it’s worth. If someone dies, a partner might need to sell up as they can’t afford the property anymore or they need to move nearer to friends and family. If a couple aren’t getting on and divorce is the only option, not everyone can afford to stay in their family home, particularly with so many families having two working parents. Debt is a rough thing, particularly in these difficult times, so when it really bites, selling up and releasing the equity is sometimes the only option.
For a property to be repossessed, the procedure takes sometime – it can be six months or more. If the owner has been to court they will often be given/be advised to try to sell the property themselves to get the best price they can rather than have the property taken off them and sold on incurring increased fees for doing so by the lender. This can be a great source of bargains, but can be like finding a needle in a haystack, unless you are happy to hang around the courts. They are either sold through agents, to ‘quick sale’ companies or via local auctions.
(c) Chain falls through
If someone has sold their property and made an offer on another one, then their buyer pulls out, this can cause a chain to breakdown unless another buyer can be found at short notice, so a great time to be able to offer less than the property originally sold for – as long as you can move within a matter of weeks to replace the previous buyer.
(d) New Build Properties
Developers run businesses and businesses have targets to achieve. So at the end of the year, or even the half year, the sale of one property might mean bonuses all round for the developer’s staff. This is when dropping a property’s price is worthwhile. As is selling off the ‘last two’ properties to free up expensive site sales offices and staff.
(e) Half and Half Homes
At the moment, buyers are making offers on properties which are either pristine and ready to move into or a wreck which needs a lot of work (new kitchen and bathroom, re-decorating). Half and half homes which are partly pristine and partly a wreck therefore just aren’t selling, so after a long time waiting for a buyer, vendor’s are more likely to drop their price. These properties can take a while to secure at a bargain though, as it often takes vendors more than six months to realise they aren’t going to get the price they had hoped.
(f) Properties needing substantial work
Many people want to do a up a property, but that doesn’t really mean they want to get their hands dirty. Most ‘do-er uppers’ are really looking for somewhere they can move into then upgrade the decoration and put in a new kitchen and bathroom. The real bargains come when a property needs gutting – or already has been, if it’s been fire damaged, wrecked by previous owners. So less buyers trying to compete to buy these properties means you are more likely to ‘bag a bargain’.
(g) Properties with ‘undesirable’ neighbours
Most properties are sold when they sit next to another property or overlook lots of beautiful countryside. Those though that have a pylon in the back garden, front onto a busy road (although less so in city centres), next to schools, or a dilapidated property, tend to sell for a lot less than those in a better location. In a falling market these are the toughest properties to shift, so you can make pretty low offers and if the vendors can still move on, your offer may well get accepted.
So if you want to haggle to bag a bargain in the property market, it’s essential to sort out your finances, sign up a proactive legal company and find properties where vendors are likely to be ‘motivated sellers’ and let you have the property for less than they would when the property market is buoyant.
I am one of the UK’s top property commentators and analysts, being regularly quoted in the press including the Telegraph, Independent, Times, Daily Mail and Express and have appeared on BBC2, featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, Channel 4 Homes and a number of local BBC radio stations.
I have been a consultant to the property sector for a number of years and renovating properties for over 20 years. I have also written a number of books, including four for Which? – Buy, Sell, Move House, Renting and Letting, Develop your Property and the Property Investment Handbook.