Anne Carroll (MRICS MSCSI)
Searching for your dream home can be time consuming and sometimes frustrating but it’s also a very exciting time in your life and something you will always remember.
To help you in this journey here are some ‘Purchaser Tips’ to help both before and during the purchasing process.
The most important tip is to ensure your finances are sorted. I’d recommend you know what your budget is before you start looking. Bank of Ireland’s House-Hunter mortgage approval lasts 6 months so this gives you enough time to look at properties at that market value.
Due to the current high demand for property, an Estate Agent will look for proof of your funding before taking a bid from you seriously. An Estate Agent will never go to ‘sale agreed’ with a buyer without finance being in place first.
If you can, it’s also a good idea to have your own property sold before you buy. This makes you a ‘ready to go’ purchaser rather than having a property to sell and being ‘in a chain’. More often than not, the Vendor will opt for a ‘ready to go’ purchaser over someone who still has their own property to sell.
Location Location Location
This saying never dates! Location is key. Don’t make the mistake of looking all over for your perfect property, you will exhaust and confuse yourself. If you focus in on your preferred locations early, it will make your search much easier.
A property can be altered (subject to planning permission) to suit your style, but it can NEVER be moved. So, regardless of what the house is like, you have to live there and if you don’t like the area you’ll never settle in the house.
Amenities are a large part of the location factor too. Check if the shops, schools, park, public transport links are close and suitable.
Once you know your spending power you can see what similar type properties have sold for in your preferred area. The Property Price Register is an excellent research tool to show how much neighbouring properties actually sold for. Do enough digging on the internet and more often than not you can find additional information on that property’s size, condition and sometimes photographs.
Make sure you use the Estate Agent as much as possible when looking for information on a property. If they don’t know the answers to your questions, ask them to find out. You need to be as well informed as you possibly can. This is all part of the due diligence process that needs to be carried out before you place a bid on the property. ‘Buyer Beware’ is a term often used at this juncture.
Here are some key questions you can ask about the house:
- “What is the orientation of the rear garden?”
- “Is the attic conversion compliant with building regulations?”
- “Does the property have an architectural certificate of compliance?”
- “Has the heating or wiring been upgraded in recent years?”
- “Were there ever any flood claims in the neighbourhood?”
Some more probing questions can be very enlightening, such as:
- “Why are the Vendors selling?”
- “Are they trading up (may need a minimum sale figure) or trading down (may not be in a hurry so will wait for the desired amount)?”
- “When do the Vendors want to close?” (If you have your finance arranged and no property to sell, you are in a better position than many buyers and may be the most attractive option to the vendor.)
- “What is included in the sale?” (More often than not, fixtures and fittings will be the only things included but this may become a bargaining tool. For example, if the Vendors are trading down, they may not have room for some of the contents and could be open to negotiation to include certain items.
- “How long has the property been on the market for?” (If it’s been on for a prolonged period of time, ask why? Is there a structural or planning issue?)
Bidding on a property
When you are ready to start bidding on a property, I’d recommend an offer lower than the guide price as your first offer. This shows you’re interested in the property and the Estate Agent is obliged to not only relay your offer to the Vendor but also to revert to you if another, higher offer is received. Don’t ‘wait and see’ as the property may be sold without even your knowledge if you’re not in the game.
Ask the Estate Agent what is the position of other bidders. You might find that you’re a more secure bet for the vendor (you have no property to sell for example, you have full finance in place or you have renovation experience, etc.). This means, if you have been outbid, you may decide not to make a counter offer and instead to stick to your original offer and inform the Estate Agent that your offer still stands.
Inform your solicitor that you’re on the lookout for a property and actively bidding . You’ll want him/her to be prepared to receive terms of sale and subsequent contract. This will show the Vendor that you are prepared and serious with your legal assistance standing by.
Remember you will need to cater for professional fees and other costs involved in the purchasing process:
- Stamp Duty
- Legal fees
- Valuation costs and structural Surveyor costs.
You may need this in bucketfulls having attended every open view on Saturday mornings in the last 12 months but you’ll know you’re dream home once you walk through the door!
Best of luck with your search!
Anne Carroll (MRICS MSCSI) is Bank of Ireland’s Senior Property Specialist – she’s a Chartered Valuation Surveyor with over 16 years’ experience in the property industry.
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