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?