As our search for a new home continues, we have become more certain in what we want, as well as more jaded when it comes to bullshit and bullying from estate agents.
Among the hordes of those who try to get us to see properties that are outside our budget range and/or simply not what we’re looking for (close to a station doesn’t mean a 20-minute walk), we have also met a few really pushy ones, who just keep talking about how fast-moving the market is.
And yes, I know it’s true on some level – London’s property market is not for shrinking violets. But it’s also not as hectic as it was a couple of months ago. In fact, according to HMRC, UK home sales fell 45% between March and April. Of course, this had largely to do with the stamp duty change for buy-to-lets. Nonetheless, April house sales were at their lowest level since March 2013.
However, this doesn’t mean properties come cheap. The average UK house price was £209,000 in April 2016. This is £16,000 higher than in April 2015, and £1,300 higher than the month before, according to the Office of National Statistics.
The pushy agent immediately insisted we show him how much money we had and told us he thought the offer was too low.
What I’m saying is this is not a time to panic, but a time to consider carefully how much you’re willing to pay.
Here’s a case in point: we saw a house we liked and made an offer, £36,000 below the asking price, but still significantly more than other flats in the same building were going for. The pushy agent immediately insisted we show him how much money we had and told us he thought the offer was too low. We pointed out that he needed to put the offer to the seller regardless, upon which he did so begrudgingly. He came back with a verbal rejection, which we again had to insist he email to us.
A few days later he came back with a counteroffer, which was £15,000 below the asking price, proving being stubborn can pay off. We took a day to think about it, at which point the agent got in touch again, announcing that another offer had been accepted, where the buyer had agreed to pay nearly the asking price.
Good luck to all parties, I would say, as the property, albeit in good condition and location, was on the small side and, as for the actual asking price, there is plenty of choice around. The agent then continued to patronise us, saying we should have reacted quicker.
We chose to ignore him, but were interested in seeing another property with the same agency and asked to have someone else show us around.
He showed us around a decent, but uninspiring flat, warning us that it would go in a matter of days.
As it turned out, the new guy wasn’t much better, suggesting that we had been too slow to pick up the property we lost out on. He showed us around a decent, but uninspiring flat, warning us that it would go in a matter of days (despite it having been on the market for over a week).
Then, he took us to a Victorian conversion. Pointing at a damp patch in the kitchen, he announced that this was exactly the kind of thing first-time buyers would fret about, whereas those who already own a home and know how things work wouldn’t really mind it.
When I asked him about the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), he chose to ignore it by saying that looking at the EPC was pointless as having an energy-efficient home wasn’t providing a significant saving on heating costs anyway.
Boyfriend and I left the place wondering who in their right mind would want a house with a damp patch. Whoever you are, future buyer, don’t let them charge you extra for it.
The search continues…
[Pic credit: ‘The Realtor’ by Brenda Clarke]