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Top Tips – Getting to the front of the buyers’ queue

Many of the best houses and flats are sold before they even reach the market. Even if it is on the market, you need to ensure you are more attractive to sellers than other buyers. Follow these top tips so other people don’t keep getting there before you

Develop a good relationship with estate agents.

 The more you get them on your side, the more they will help you:

  • They may give you forewarning of great properties that are about to come onto the market
  • Some properties are only marketed quietly to buyers the agents trust. This can happen when sellers are divorcing and the sale of the home is a sensitive issue, or a property developer wants to discreetly liquidate stock
  • Top end properties are often sold off market. They don’t want the curious snooping around
  • See How can I get estate agents on my side as a buyer?

Leaflet the area you want to live in.

If you know exactly which area or street(s) you want to live in (see How do I choose a new area to live in?), and there aren’t many properties on sale, then consider leafleting it

  • Put notes through people’s letterboxes telling them about yourself and asking if they intend to sell. Many people spend years thinking about selling, and you might prompt them to take the plunge
  • The seller may not want to put their house on the open market in order to avoid estate agency fees. Direct sales incur no such costs

Ask friends and family. 

Turn them into your army of property scouts – most people like the thrill of the chase

  • Tell everybody you know that you are looking to buy and ask them to keep their eyes peeled and their ears open for any suitable properties
  • Often you will hear through word of mouth that a suitable property is, or will soon be, for sale

Approach absentee landlords.

 Absentee landlords, particularly of empty properties, often simply haven’t got around to selling, and so you can make the decision easier for them

  • If you find an empty rental flat or house that you like the look of, put in an offer – especially if it has been empty for a long time
  • The further away the landlord lives, the more likely you are to get a good deal

Knock on doors. 

If you have really narrowed down the area you want to buy in, consider just asking door to door:

  • It may be awkward, but you could strike gold. It is far more diplomatic to say you are looking to move into the area, and asking if they know any properties that are likely to come onto the market soon
  • Go on a weekend, when more people are at home
  • Prepare for rejection
  • Take along cards/notes with your contact details on

Prepare your finances before hand. 

When a hot property comes on the market, the sellers are far more likely to go for a buyer who is in good financial shape:

  • Cash buyers, or those with mortgages in principle, will often be preferred to those who still have to scramble to get the money together. They will be seen as less risky
  • Admitting you haven’t even talked to anyone about a mortgage will not instill confidence you are serious

Avoid being in a chain.

Many sellers are frightened of being in a housing chain, because their ability to sell their home then depends on other people they don’t know being able to sell theirs. If you are able not to be part of a chain yourself, then you will put yourself in a stronger position. First time buyers will clearly not be part of a chain, but if you already own a home, there are many ways to make yourself chain free. See How do I break the housing chain?  

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  1. Thanks, Annie, but…..

    Update 2:

    It seems that I was tempting fate. “It happens all the time,” my estate agent said when he told me that my buyers had had to pull out.

    I lost my dream flat, too. Back to the drawing board.

    My lovely estate agents worked their socks off and managed to sell my house again, for the asking price, just a fortnight later.

    Two weeks on, however, I seem to be hunting phantoms – flats which match my spec, are advertised for sale on RightMove, Zoopla, Prime Location, etc (and I get instantaneous alerts from all) as “just added” but when I enquire from the vendors’ agents as soon as possible after, I am told that they were “sold immediately.”

    I have found the advice here, about how to get to the top of selling agents’ property queues very helpful, and it’s echoed by my own estate agents who say that I have to treat this as if I am a candidate in a presidential election and “put myself out there and make myself known.”

    That is a given, and I have and plan to continue to email every agent in my town every two or three days until I find a property which suits and which I can afford. But there is a shortage of those I’d be able to live in – ie ground floor flats of a decent size. I can’t escape the fact that one day I might have to be in a wheelchair and modern flats are definitely not designed for that.

    Comment by Sue V — March 5, 2016 @ 9:54 pm

  2. Hi Sue, thanks for your comment. Please email us if you need any help.

    HomeOwners Alliance

    Comment by Annie — January 15, 2016 @ 12:16 pm

  3. Hello, I am finding HOA very helpful. After a quiet couple of months around Christmas (a daft time to try to sell my house) I got an offer only slightly less than the asking price. I accepted it since the couple who wanted to buy were not in a chain, have a verified mortgage offer, provided details of their solicitors and are about to sign a memorandum of sale, and have family links in my town. I own my house so don’t have to rely on mortgage funding.

    Now I am hunting furiously for a ground floor flat rather than a house because it’s getting more and more difficult for me to climb stairs. Good ones are as rare as hen’s teeth in my area and are snapped up almost as soon as they are put on the market.

    The variation in quality for the price asked is quite mind-boggling, from the modern ones, some of which seem to be cobbled together and are badly finished, to the older properties some of which are good, others which aren’t for all sorts of reasons.

    My estate agents have been a very present help throughout, and seem not to have tired (yet) of my daft questions – it’s over 30 years since I last did this. They are looking out for a property which fits my spec as closely as possible. I do recognise that I probably shan’t find what I think is a perfect place and that a certain capability to compromise is necessary to do this at all.

    UPDATE (and I hope I am not tempting fate here) the estate agents have been in touch and have notified me of a property which is about to come on the market, in the area I want to live, which seems to tick all the boxes although it is a little more expensive than others I have seen. I haven’t viewed it yet but I shall be, with the valuer, when I meet him there literally just after he and the seller have signed the contract to put it on the market with his firm.

    I don’t know how that happened! I have a good working alliance with the agents who are, as I have said, helpful and pleasant, but this is the first time I have ever been first in the queue for anything!

    Fingers crossed…..

    Comment by Sue Vogel — January 14, 2016 @ 6:38 pm

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