There may be a recession on, but house prices have remained stubbornly high – to many people's frustration. But if you are desperate to upsize or even get onto the ladder in the first place, we can help. We've discovered how to play less for a house you'll love, without making too many compromises.
Phil Spencer feel our house price pain. 'The market is extraordinarily busy,' he admitted this week. 'Didn't I read that we've just had the highest increase in house prices for 16 years? Added to which there were £37 billion of agreed sales inside of a month. In anybody's book this is a frantic market.'
In this sellers' market, negotiations can be tricky. But that's not to say you can't save thousands on the home of your dreams, if you follow these tips from experts in the field.
1. Buy house number 13
Shockingly, research from GetAgent.co.uk has found that in parts of England and Wales, you can save up to £80,000 if you buy a house with the door number 13.
Even on average across the country, you are likely to make a saving of £7,500 – which should cover all your moving fees and more. The statistics say that homeowners paid an average of £222,500 for property with the number 13 in the last year. This is 3% less than the overall average house price of £230,000, or £7,500 less.
In the South West, you'll pay an average of £32,815 less, and in the North East, you'll get a £14,075 average discount. But the biggest savings to be made are in London – specifically Hammersmith and Fulham – where number 13 homes sell for 11.5% less than the average price for the area. That equates to a mighty discount of £80,750.
Such a big discount should be enough for anyone to put their superstitions to one side, in our view!
2. Get a valuation and negotiate
The fact of the matter is that some houses are put on the market for more than they are worth. A number of estate agents anonymously shared their secrets with Admiral Home Insurance, and admitted just that.
A senior negotiator in Gloucester advises: 'A lot of estate agents put properties on the market for £10k to £20k more to give room for negotiating'
That's why it's essential to get a valuation. A sales director from Essex says. 'You mustn’t let your heart rule your pocket. You have to stick to your budget. An agent should be within £5,000 to £7,000 of a surveyor’s valuation.'
Therefore, armed with your valuation, you are entirely within your rights to haggle the price down. After all, you don't want to be left in negative equity.
3. Compromise on outdoor space
If you have your heart set on a particular area or even street, you may have better luck if you are able to settle for less outdoor space. 'More buyers are looking for bigger gardens and country views, especially since lockdown,' according to Admiral's anonymous agents.
'With people being stuck indoors during lockdown, it’s made them think about the space that they have or don’t have, and increased the importance of garden space.' And that means, of course, that garden space commands a premium.
So if you can bare to sacrifice a view or make do with a smaller garden, you could save thousands.
4. Get extras thrown in – and don't pay more for things you don't need
White goods? Curtains? Wood burner? It's important to know what's thrown in when you buy a house, and what you might be charged extra for. There are literally thousands of horror stories of new home owners arriving to their property to find that featured they thought were included had been stripped out. From light shades and bulbs to shower screens and even fireplaces.
You can save yourself thousands by negotiating appliances and features into the asking price. Or, if you don't need them, by asking the owner to take them and drop their price.
Equally, make sure the owner IS taking all their old junk with them. Make sure it's part of the agreement of sale. Otherwise, you could be lumbered with the cost of having it taken away.
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Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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