BUYING a property is a big deal, so it's no wonder homebuyers have plenty of questions about the process.
A property expert has shared the four most common questions she gets asked by buyers – and the answer to each one.
Paula Higgins, chief executive of HomeOwners Alliance (HOA), says that buyers are having a tricky time in today's market.
Over the past year, house prices have soared – fuelled by a stamp duty holiday as well as low supply of properties.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average house price has rocketed £27,000 over the past year to a whopping £277,000 – an increase of 10.9%.
So naturally, concerns about which property to buy and how to keep the costs down are rife.
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On top of this, a cost of living crisis means millions of households are on the brink, and can't afford to make a mistake when making such a huge purchase.
Here's four of the most common property questions answered:
I've sold my home but can't find a new one – what should I do?
With demand for properties far outweighing the supply, it's no surprise that many people are struggling to grab their next home.
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According to Rightmove, the number of homes for sale per estate agency branch has dipped to a record low of 12.
But if you've found a buyer for your home, you may feel the pressure to move out quickly in case they pull out of the sale.
Paula said: "If you haven't exchanged yet, you could agree a longer time to complete the sale, or pull out and sit tight until things change.
"If these options aren't available to you, visit all local estate agents in your area and say you are a chain-free and cash buyer."
Alternatively, you may have to change your search area or the type of property you're seeked.
New builds, for example, are less in demand than period properties. And post-pandemic, flats aren't as popular because many people want outside space or room to work from home.
Paula suggests asking estate agents, who may find out about properties before they hit the market, increasing your chances of getting in there first.
Do I have to use my estate agent's in-house mortgage service?
Although opting for your estate agent's in-house service may be convenient – it's not always the best option and you should shop around for the best deal.
There are no legal requirements tying you to your estate agent's mortgage service. So don't feel pressured.
Paula said any estate agent who forces you or threatens to have an open day on the property if you use your own mortgage advisor is acting illegally.
She said: "You should complain to the agent, quoting the Property Ombudsman's Code of Practice.
"They are not allowed to do this, but unfortunately buyers often' don't complain for fear of getting on the wrong side of the agent."
If your agent insists you use its in-house mortgage service, keep a note of the emails or phone calls as evidence, and escalate the complaint to the Ombudsman.
I've found my dream home – do I offer the asking price?
Finding your dream home is half the battle, and it's easy to get carried away when you think you've found your "forever home".
But it's important to keep an eye on the finances. Remember, that sellers often deliberately price a property higher than they really want in the expectation of getting lower offers.
Paula said: "It's important to do your research – not only on the property, but on local house prices, the area and the market."
As a rule of thumb, it's typical to kick negotiations off with an offer between 5 and 10% lower than the asking price.
But, Paula warned, this may not apply at the moment, as the market is so "hot".
With properties in short supply we're in what is known as a "seller's market" and vendors are expecting asking price offers and more through sealed bids.
Do I need to get a survey done?
The costs of buying a house rack up quickly, so it's no surprise that many people look to cut these wherever possible.
But one area where it's usually not a good idea to scrimp is on a survey.
A house survey helps wheedle out any possible problems with a property – it's an expert inspection of the condition.
Typically, the buyer has to arrange the inspection, and this is usually done after an offer has been accepted.
How much it costs depends on the type of survey, the value of the property, and the location – and it's not the same as the valuation survey by your mortgage lender.
Paula said: "A home survey is an inspection of the condition of the property, whereas a valuation survey is there to reassure the lender that the property is worth the amount they are lending."
According to HOA, prices can start at £400 for a basic survey and rise upwards of £1,500 for a full structural survey.
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The HOA has a handy breakdown on their website which outlines rough estimations for a survey.
Paula said: "It isn't a requirement to get a survey done but we would generally advise that it's a good thing to do to avoid unwanted and costly surprises."
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