The only way is up­grad­ing

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

IT’S no se­cret that buy­ing in the right lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion is key. In­deed, how many times do house hunters on TV shows say a prop­erty would be per­fect if only it could be picked up and put in a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion? Of course, an ex­as­per­ated pre­sen­ter tells them that this would add thou­sands to the ask­ing price. But then there’s no point buy­ing some­where you al­ready know you don’t like, even if the prop­erty is bet­ter value – you’ve got to spend the fore­see­able fu­ture there, after all. So what’s the so­lu­tion? A good strat­egy is to look for an up-and-com­ing area, per­haps on the fringes of your pre­ferred one, or the fringes of the fringes.

If prices have risen and other buy­ers on a bud­get have been pushed fur­ther and fur­ther out, this can lead to once-un­de­sir­able ar­eas be­com­ing more popular and im­prov­ing as a re­sult. If you can spot im­prov­ing ar­eas, or ar­eas sub­ject to in­vest­ment and in­fra­struc­ture changes, it of­ten pays to get on the lo­cal prop­erty lad­der be­fore prices rise.

How­ever, if you’re con­cerned about re­sale val­ues, be care­ful not to get car­ried away and spend more on a prop­erty than it will be worth.

Even if a prop­erty seems like a steal, re­mem­ber that it may cost more to buy and ren­o­vate than some­where that’s more ex­pen­sive to buy but needs less work. This is where re­search comes in.

Not only do you need to find out how long a prop­erty’s been on the mar­ket, what po­si­tion the seller is in, what com­pa­ra­ble prop­er­ties are sell­ing for and what prop­erty prices are do­ing lo­cally, but also how much this prop­erty will cost to ren­o­vate. Get a full struc­tural survey (RICS Build­ing Survey) and then quo­ta­tions for the work needed, so you’re re­al­is­tic about your bud­get. To get an idea of costs be­fore mak­ing an of­fer, go round the prop­erty with a good builder or sur­veyor.

Some prop­er­ties are in such a bad state that only cash buy­ers are wel­come. This can also be the case with prop­er­ties of un­usual con­struc­tion, so if you need a mort­gage, you’re more limited to what you can buy. Mort­gage lenders usu­ally ex­pect the prop­erty to be hab­it­able and although it’s per­fectly pos­si­ble to buy an un­mod­ernised prop­erty with a mort­gage, lenders some­times re­tain some of the money un­til es­sen­tial re­pairs are done.

With in­ter­est rates likely to rise fairly soon, prop­erty re­pos­ses­sions should in­crease, which is another way to find a bar­gain. You have to move very quickly when buy­ing a re­pos­ses­sion though, as the seller usu­ally wants to ex­change con­tracts and com­plete the sale within weeks. They’ll check that you’re in a po­si­tion to do this be­fore ac­cept­ing, or even con­sid­er­ing, your of­fer, so it’s not a route open to all buy­ers. It’s also a stress­ful way to buy, as the prop­erty re­mains on the mar­ket un­til ex­change.

Mov­ing quickly ap­plies to buy­ing at auc­tion too. You have to ex­change con­tracts on the spot, and com­plete within a set time, of­ten 28 days, so buy­ing with a mort­gage isn’t al­ways pos­si­ble. Auc­tions are full of ren­o­va­tion projects and can be a good place to find bar­gains, pro­vid­ing you don’t get car­ried away in the heat of the mo­ment and pay too much.

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