House hunts often begin in the new year, prompted, perhaps, by the removal of the Christmas tree and its gaudy baubles. Maybe there’s a realisation as you take down the decorations and start work again that the place you live in is a bit tired. There’s a temptation to think that all of life’s problems could be solved by a new start. Fresh-faced house hunters often forget that there are few things more stressful than moving house – bar, perhaps, divorce. Since the housing market has effectively closed shop during lockdown, it’s the ideal opportunity to reflect on how to remove the pressure from the process once there’s a chance to look at houses again. Here’s my guide to eight common mistakes people make – and how to avoid them:
Do your sums
My first rule of thumb is simple: stop going to view properties you cannot afford. You’ll only upset yourself. There’s no point torturing yourself endlessly viewing houses or flats that are out of your price range in the hope that one of your low-ball offers will be accepted. Set a strict budget and don’t forget to calculate moving costs, Stamp Duty if applicable, legal fees and a rainy-day budget too. Add ten per cent if you must for searches online but that’s it. The market isn’t likely to fall by 40 per cent and unless a property is wildly overpriced, you’re unlikely to achieve more than a ten per cent reduction on the asking price.
Prep the mortgage
You’d be amazed how many people begin to view properties without a mortgage in place. This is dangerous: if you happen to stumble upon the house of your dreams you won’t be in a position to move swiftly and risk losing out to other buyers.