There is no doubt that now is arguably a great time to be a buyer, IF you can get a mortgage, and IF you can raise a deposit. The market is unlikely to 'bottom out' much further; however, unlike previous 'boom and bust' periods, we would appear to have learned lessons, perhaps the hard way, and the days of soaring house prices and speculative propertly dealing do not seem set to return.
This is good news overall, and particularly for first time buyers in Croydon and beyond. Not only is there a huge choice of properties out there, but most are now having to be realistically priced. Buyers should be looking to get what they pay for, and any increase in value will be as a result predominantly as a result of genuine home improvements, not a rising market. House buying is once again about looking for a home, not an investment.
Getting a mortgage: gone are the days when the banks and building cocieties were handing out 100% mortgages like Smarties. Most now require a substantial deposit. And when you've finally got that deposit together, don't forget to factor in purchasing costs - Stamp Duty, legal fees, surveys etc. But assuming you're ready to go, there are still a minefield of options to consider when selecting a mortgage - interest only, re-payment, interest rates... It really is worth talking to an expert to establish what is right for you, what the future may potentially hold and that you don't overstretch yourself.
Finding your home: do your research. Property websites make it so much easier to check out everything that's on offer, with some giving details of how long a house has been on the market, whether it has been reduced in price etc - all valuable information when it comes to considering making an offer on a property. Estate agents can be extremely helpful, particularly if you're moving to an area you're not familiar with. But you must remember that agents work for and are being paid by the vendors. It is in their interest to sell the property at the highest price and the shortest possible time, so bear this in mind when they are waxing lyrical about that property that has actually been on the market for 18 months!
Go to viewings prepared: smart phones can come into their own here, enabling you to take snapshots and make notes for each property you visit. Always get permission before taking pictures and don't get too personal. Try and visit at different times during the day to not just see where the sun may fall, but whether that particular street becomes a 'rat run' during rush hour or school times, or whether the attractive park at the end becomes a meeting point for undesirables after 9.00pm. Stroll up and down the street and see whether the neighbouring properties look well cared for.
Making an offer: I have, on more than one occasion, been guilty of diving in with a full asking price offer, loving a property so much I was scared it might be snatched from under me. Even in a more competitive market, this was pretty foolish, and absolutely cost me more money than I needed to spend. There is nothing wrong with making a 'cheeky' offer, but there is a line between cheeky and downright offensive. Again, consider the vendors. If you're buying a house that's been lying empty for months, is run down and needs a lot of TLC to bring it up to scratch, then you have justification in submitting a low initial offer. But if you are offering on a home that has clearly been loved and cared for and will instantly be a pleasure to move in to, then let that be reflected in the price you are willing to pay. What's more, if you've done your research properly you should know that there are some areas whose desirability has left them relatively untouched by the market crash.
Once your offer has been accepted then the fun starts! A building society survey for mortgage is just that; the lenders are simply checking that the property is worth the amount they are lending. Given that you will be contributing a significant deposit, they have little to lose. However, a full structural survey, particularly in older properties, can not only reveal potentially expensive problems but can give you additional bargaining tools.
It can all be a bit daunting. Fortunately, thebestof Croydon has a wealth of professionals whose expert advice can take the strain. We recently posted a blog about preparing your own home for sale, which also contained the details of local experts - please click here for more information.
And from thebestof Croydon, happy househunting!