With a chronic shortage of homes for Brits, many prospective buyers can find themselves putting in offer after offer before finding success. So we've done some research to discover what factors can help a buyer stand out amongst the pack.
In Britain’s ultra-competitive housing market, it's been reported that 11 house-hunters are now vying for every property on the market. And in some of those instances, the highest bidders aren't necessarily the ones securing the deal.
We wanted to dig into this a little more and find out what exactly homeowners are thinking when they're choosing between bids, and how you can equip yourself to come top of the offer pile.
We conducted a survey with homeowners around the UK who were selling their property or had done so in the last year.
What we found out from UK homeowners
In today’s competitive property market buying a property is no longer solely about having the highest bid on the table. 89% of the homeowners we spoke to told us they favour buyers who are in the best position to complete a purchase quickly. Even if others are making bigger offers.
More than a fifth (22%) of sellers told us they’d accept an offer 5% under the asking price – the equivalent to £10,366 on the UK’s average house price of £207,308 – if their buyer is chain free and has a mortgage agreed. A further 52% would at least consider doing the same - meaning that only a quarter of sellers definitely wouldn’t budge on price.
If you’re looking for properties worth over £500,000, you may have even more to gain by being prepared. We found that 88% of those selling houses worth more than £500,000 would either definitely, or at least consider, taking a 5% price cut if the buyer is chain free with an agreed mortgage.
The top three factors which sellers told us encourage them to accept an offer are:
Proof the buyer can afford the property
The buyer having a mortgage agreed
The buyer being chain free
Since there’s not a lot you can do about whether or not you’re in a chain, let’s focus on some practical tips you can take to help you prove to the seller that you've got factors 1 & 2 down.
How to get yourself in prime buying position
Let the seller know you're serious
Let the seller know you're able to commit to the sale. Make sure the seller knows you're able (and eager) to start moving quickly. You could even float around a potential moving date if you know they're as keen to move quickly as you are.
Get your finances sorted first
Not every buyer will have sorted out their finances, let alone their mortgage before they start house hunting. So this is one way you can get a head start and demonstrate to a seller you're in a position to go.
Firstly, have a spring clean of your finances so you're geared up for your mortgage affordability assessment. Make sure you've got rid of any unnecessary outgoings (such as gym memberships you no longer use) as they could affect the mortgage offer you get.
Getting your finances sorted also means getting your credit score on top form and getting your report in order. Doing this before you need to take out credit will help maximise your chances of getting accepted for the mortgage deal you want.
Get your mortgage in principle
Having the paperwork to backup your offer will put you in a really strong position. Start shopping around and making enquiries (but not applications) with different lenders to see what they can offer you.
Once you've got a lender you like, try to see if you can get a mortgage approval 'in principle'. This is a written statement from the lender of your choice declaring they’d be happy to lend you the amount you require.
An approval in principle makes you more attractive to sellers, because it shows you’ve done your homework and can afford to buy the property. But since most mortgage offers last between three and six months after being agreed in principle, you may not want to hang around for too long.
It's worth noting that a decision in principle is not a fail-safe guarantee that your mortgage will go through. The lender may still reject you after conducting more thorough checks.
Be smart about how you apply for a mortgage
The next step is to make your offer on your dream house and hope it gets accepted. If it does the final step is to actually get a mortgage and close the deal.
Once you're ready to start applying for your mortgage, take your time. Making several applications for credit – including mortgages - within a short time frame will leave a footprint on your credit report. This could count against you as too many footprints can make lenders wary of you. So avoid applying for too many different mortgages all at once.
If you do apply and you’re not successful, try to space out further credit applications.
Hunting for a house can be stressful, but there are lots of things you can do to put yourself in the best possible position to get the keys to your dream home.