Memories of the general election are probably fading a little now. Our subsequent departure from the European Union on 31st January has now disappeared into the rear-view mirror, just leaving T-shirts and mugs as reminders. Let’s hope that 2020 marks an end to meaningless slogans like ‘Take Back Control’ and ‘Get Brexit Done’ and we can all resume our personal and professional lives.
If you are planning a major change in your housing situation, I promised last year I would try and present this year a ‘post Brexit’ survival guide. The first point to make is that the time for crisp decision making is now. Housing markets have recovered a little of their confidence after the barren days of 2019. Rightmove reports enquiries (between 13th December and 15th January) were up 15% compared to last year and the number of sales agreed were up 7.4%. Upwards pricing pressure remains modest, but may increase if demand remains buoyant, especially for first time buyer properties. Of course, Brexit deadlines and uncertainty could surface again later in the year as the strain of negotiations becomes clear. Spring is always a good time to buy or sell your home; it is just doubly so in 2020.
Let’s assume that you have a house to sell before you buy your new home. Your house move may be inevitable because of a change in circumstances but if not, it is always worth pressing the pause button just for a moment. The process of buying and selling a home is inevitably expensive. A conservative estimate of the costs associated with a £250,000 property (a touch more than the Yorkshire average) is at least £10,000. This includes stamp duty, removal costs, property agent fees, solicitor fees, survey fees, before we start with decorating, carpets or anything else in the house. This is your ‘change cost’ – if your house can meet your future requirements with some modest renovation, then don’t discount that option.
If not, then 2020 is moving year! In the corridors of estate agents up and down our county, people will be whispering these words – ‘the proceedable buyer’ (to which should also be added – ‘the proceedable seller’). The concept of ‘proceedability’ is about being ready, willing and able to enter into a transaction and gets you much closer to becoming a successful buyer or vendor.
The proceedable seller starts with a home that feels ready to enter the market. As always, start by decluttering with frequent trips to the local council recycling centre and charity shop. That furniture you never use, clothes you last wore in the nineties, that ‘spare’ hoover…it’s time to let go and literally move on. A house needs room to breathe, to let buyers see the real space and value it represents. Secondly, step back and take a dispassionate look at your house. How’s the maintenance? Fix those loose handles, cracked roof tiles, broken gaps and dripping taps. A badly maintained house could suggest larger problems elsewhere. Does the garden hint at balmy barbecues on a summer’s day or scream weeding and hard work? There may be bigger investment decisions to be made if your appraisal suggests some fresh paint or carpets. Next, appoint a really good conveyancing solicitor and go through all the early documentation well in advance. Finally, appoint your estate agent based not on a competition of who bids the highest guide price and/or the lowest fee, but on a considered view of competence and capability. Who will do the viewings? What is the marketing expertise? Quality of office support team? Congratulate yourself when you have worked through the above checklist, you are now a proceedable seller!
The flip side to your home move is becoming a ‘proceedable buyer’. One way of thinking about your status as a potential buyer is to think about a league table of buyers. Let me describe the ‘Liverpool’ (well, this year anyway) of proceedable buyers. This buyer is a pure cash buyer and has liquid assets which can be shown to the full value of your desired home. The next places in the league table are occupied by buyers in a clear position to move, having already exchanged contracts on their sale and with strong and substantiated finance. This means proof of deposit available (the more the better, as the risk of not getting enough mortgage support reduces) and evidence of the mortgage also to hand. All banks and building society are different, but most will provide some form of ‘mortgage in principle’ or at least indication of intent. A question often asked is can you make an offer on a house before you have sold your own home. The answer is of course you can, but whether the offer is accepted is a different question. The more attractive a house is or competitive the market, the more likely a proceedable buyer ranked higher in that notional league table will emerge as the triumphant buyer.
So, now might the time for you to ‘Get Home Move Done’ – not as catchy I know, but perhaps a little more meaningful to you.