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How to succeed in a sellers’ market

Today's sellers' market looks set to continue. But what does this mean in practical terms if you're looking to buy a home this year and how can you put yourself at the front of the buyers queue?

Post updated: March 10th, 2022

4 minute read

sellers market

Today’s “sellers’ market” explained

Earlier this year, the average estate agent branch had just 12 properties for sale. This all time low of properties for sale accompanied by strong demand from buyers is the perfect conditions for a housing market frenzy and further house price growth. This has led to record house prices, with some regions rising at “unsustainable” rates, Rightmove has warned.

Spring and autumn are traditionally the two most active times of the year for buyers and sellers but the former still outnumber the latter by a wide margin.

While the number of new prospective buyers was 50% higher than the five-year average in February, sales instructions (new homes being put up for sale) were down by 5%, Knight Frank data shows.

While we wait for more properties to come to market, here are some tips for home buyers currently house hunting in this sellers’ market.

Tips for buyers in a seller’s market

Competition is strong at the moment, but there are things you can do to strengthen your position…

Act quickly 

With lots of competition between buyers, the risk of being gazumped also increases, so you need to act quickly once your offer is accepted. Securing your mortgage agreement in principle before you start your search will put you in a stronger position, as will finding a conveyancer to ensure you get all of your ID checks done in advance. Knowing you can afford their property and won’t delay the process with applications and solicitor searches makes you a more reliable buyer. The same applies for getting your surveyor ready to go. Get and compare quotes from local surveyors in advance.

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Be proactive – make connections

With a shortage of homes available for sale, many of the best houses and flats are sold before they even reach the market. So, it’s really important to establish relationships with local estate agents in your search area and show them you are a serious buyer in a good position. That way, you’ll be first to know about new properties. Read more about how to get to the front of the buyer’s queue.

Get help from a Buying Agent

Buying agents can find you the house of your dreams, even if it’s not on the market, and negotiate the best possible price. They’re particularly helpful in today’s sellers’ market. Read more about buying agents, how they work, their fee structure and to find a list of buying agents around the country.

Prepare for sealed bids

In the first quarter of 2021, 36% of sellers received offers from three or more buyers. That trend has seemingly continued through 2021 and doesn’t look set to stop with demand for such few properties on the market. Prepare yourself for a bidding war. Our guide on sealed bids – or best and final offer as it is sometimes called – explains everything you need to know about tactics.

Can you really afford to pay over the odds? 

With prices already inflated in a sellers’ market, making sure you don’t pay over the odds and sticking to your budget is vital. But with competition high, it’s also important not to underbid. So make sure you do your research and check you’re not paying too much for the property. To find out how much other houses in the same area or street have sold for in the past, the best website is the Land Registry

Find out more about making an offer and how to haggle.

Consider New Build properties

You may find more availability if you include new build homes in your property search. Barratt Developments recently reported demand continues to be high, as it recently announced it was selling homes quicker than a year ago. Before you do buy a new build, do your research and take a look at our guide top tips for buying a new build.

Break the chain – sell before you buy

A long chain of buyers and sellers in a housing transaction often mean one thing: delays. That’s why chain-free buyers that don’t have a property they are waiting to sell, often get to the front of the buyers queue. Selling before you buy also means you’re likely to be able to move more quickly and less likely to get gazumped

But selling before you buy is not without risks: what happens if house prices continue to rise? where will you live in the meantime? Nevertheless, we are hearing from an increasing number of homeowners opting to sell first and move into rented accommodation or back to their parents so they can take their time looking for their next property.

Bridging loans have also received increased attention on our site in the last six months from people looking for temporary funding solutions to enable them to buy their new home before they have sold their existing property. But bridging loans do come with risks so read our guide on how bridging loans work.

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