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How has the Pandemic Affected House Prices?

The Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on everyday life and continues to leave its mark on our finances, freedom and fun, but what impact has it had on the house prices and what is predicted to come next?

What’s Happening with Property Sales in the UK?

When COVID-19 hit, there was an almost immediate impact on the rate at which houses were being sold, causing concern for the economy and the housing industry. However, this reduction in sales was short-lived, with more than double the number of houses being sold in March 2021 than in March 2020.

Estate agents used online viewings to help keep people interested in the property market, and a lack of supply where people chose to stay put rather than sell has helped to move properties off the market quicker than ever, resulting in positive outcomes for sellers, mortgage providers and estate agents.

Stamp Duty Holiday Kept Houses Selling

One of the key components to keeping the housing market afloat during the pandemic was the introduction of the stamp duty holiday. Each of the UK nations offered their own version of this tax break with an initial deadline of March 31st 2021, in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, this has now been extended until the end of June for England and Northern Ireland. Wales offered their tax break until the end of June 2021.

The Introduction of New Mortgage Deals

It remains true that the larger your deposit, the better deal you will get on your house purchase. However, it is clear that not everyone can afford a big deposit. So the government have responded with a 95% mortgage scheme that gives buyers who have a 5% deposit a guarantee that they will get a mortgage.

Announced in March 2021, the government have promised to guarantee the part of the mortgage that is over 80%, giving banks more security if the buyer later defaults on their purchase.

Predictions for the Rest of 2021

When you consider that the property market has enjoyed an ongoing boom during the pandemic, then working out where it will go as the world slowly recovers is fascinating. The general consensus is that the time from agreeing on a sale to completing will remain low, with the average at just 45 days currently, compared to 87 days in May 2020.

However, there is also a belief that once the tax breaks and support schemes cease, then the growth of house prices could stall once more, although Savills predicts that by the end of 2021, there will have been a further 4% increase in prices and that the lack of houses going onto the market will help to keep prices at a high. One thing seems certain; the housing market seems set to enjoy a steady and healthy period ahead.

When you are ready, we can provide you with a free, no obligation conveyancing quote from our panel of leading solicitors, simply click here to use our free tool.

Choosing the Right Estate Agent

Choosing the right estate agent is an essential step when selling a property, but how do you know which one to choose? We've shared some top tips so that you can be confident that the estate agent you choose offers everything you need!

Ask the Right Questions

When you first start looking at estate agents, then it is important to shop around and ask a range of questions to see what they offer. Some of the best things to ask include:

  • How quickly do your transactions take to complete on average? It is also worth asking about their track record with achieving the asking price.
  • Are they a member of the Property Redress Scheme or the Property Ombudsman? They must be a member of one of them.
  • Will you work with one team member, or will the whole team be briefed on your sale or purchase needs? This is important because if you need a quick answer, then being able to talk to any team member will help.
  • What are their opening times? Many estate agents don’t open on weekends, making them less accessible.

Find Out About Fees

When you sell a property through an estate agency, you will need to pay a fee for their service. Unfortunately, these fees are not universal and can be anywhere between 0.75% and 3.0% plus VAT of the selling price.

There is always room for fee negotiation, and your aim should always be to go no higher than 1% plus VAT if your house is worth less than £500000. If your house is valued at higher than £500000, you may even be able to get the fee below 1% plus VAT!

Read the Small Print

Each Estate Agent sets terms and conditions, meaning that you will need to read the small print before you agree to a contract with them. Some of the key things to check include:

  • Whether the contract includes the sale boards and professional photos.
  • Do they offer sole selling rights, or can you use more than one agency? If they insist on sole selling rights, you must ensure that this is only for a limited time and reviewed regularly.
  • What time limit do they offer on their agreement. Many estate agents will push for twelve weeks, but it is worth negotiating for less.
  • Is their commission based on a sale or on finding a buyer? If it is the latter, you need to be aware that you will still be liable for the commission if you pull out of the sale.

Online or In-Person

Finally, working out whether to choose between an online and in-person estate agent can be difficult. Online agencies tend to offer lower fees, but they are generally fixed rather than based on a successful sale. Plus, you may find that you have to pay more for accompanied viewings and sales negotiation when you choose an online agency. Work out what you need from an estate agent, and then select the one that offers the best price for what you are looking for.

Remember, you do not have to use the conveyancers or solicitors recommended by your estate agent. To get a competitive conveyancing quote use our free tool here.

Things to Consider When Buying a New Build Property

New build properties offer an exciting allure because they are a blank canvas that no one else has ever put their stamp on before. However, new build properties tend to sell for around 10% more than typical homes, meaning that new builds can end up causing you a serious headache. So, rather than taking everything at face value, consider the following before you buy so that you end up with the best deal!

Negotiation is Par for the Course

If you buy a property before it has been built or finished, then the asking price will be up for negotiation. New build developments rely on early buyers to confirm further developments. Offering a lower price or asking for things to be included in your deal could help you afford a better finish than you had imagined.

Take some time to check out local prices or look at other developments and speak to housing experts to get advice before you start negotiations.

Warranty Schemes are Essential

If you are tempted to purchase a new build property without a warranty scheme, then don't! Warranty schemes are the protection you need if the builder is unable to finish the job after you've paid out your deposit.

Warranty schemes also provide assurances that your new home will be built to a specific standard and can even provide dispute resolution if you have any issues that need to be worked out.

If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get

One of the best parts of buying brand new is that you can often have a say in the way the interior of your house is finished. Tiling, cabinetry, flooring and colour schemes are all possibilities, but you will need to speak to the builder or development lead to get your requirements met.

If you are buying early on in the development, you will have more say over décor, and you may even manage to get additional items added in free!

Mortgage Offers Have a Shelf Life

Remember that mortgage offers tend to come with a shelf life of between 3 – 6 months, meaning that you may need to reapply if your home isn't completed in time. This may sound like a paperwork issue, but there is always a possibility that you may be refused the second time you apply, making it important to get your timings right and keep on top of the progress of your new house.

If you think that you may need to reapply, it is important to avoid changing jobs or taking out lots of credit as this can reduce your chances of getting a new offer.

Check Everything Before You Move In

Finally, when a house is finished, it will need time to settle, and you may find that minor issues appear. This is normal and can be fully rectified via the snagging process, where you complete a survey of everything that needs to be addressed for the builder to resolve.

There are lots of online surveys you can print off for this job, or you can employ a snagging specialist to come and do the checks on your behalf.

New build companies may tell you, you need to use their conveyancers, however this is not the case, you are free to use your own. For the best quotes for your conveyancing needs, you can use our free tool here.