HOME FRONT with Jenny Knight
According to a survey by First Direct bank more than a third of UK house hunters buy a property after just one 30-minute viewing – but, finds Jenny Knight, London buyers are a lot cannier.
In London buyers average the most viewings in contrast to the rest of the country where only one in four viewed a property at least four times before making an offer. Daniel Woods, of Knight Frank Tower Bridge, says: “At the moment it is more of a home finders exercise with buyers who need more hand holding and support than previously. Any good agent knows that it is about giving time and real advice to enable an applicant to make a decision. Buyers can take a couple of months to decide although a small percentage make a quick offer and we have had a promising surge in the last week.
“I’ve had offers over the telephone when people get over-excited about something they have seen on line – but you can’t go to a client with an offer like that. I always insist they actually see the property before I proceed.” Probably the reason London buyers are so much more cautious is that prices are higher in the capital and with stamp duty rates up to 12 per cent, the costs involved in buying expensive properties are so high that home hunters need to be certain they have found exactly the right property.
Daniel reckons that 85 per cent of buyers see the property they eventually buy at least twice and sometimes up to four to six times. “I had an applicant who looked at two flats and when he saw the second he said: “I’ll take it.” It was north of a million pounds but he decided to go ahead immediately – although he took a couple of weeks to come in with a firm offer. Obviously people who make quick offers have a survey because they need that second opinion that what they are buying is good value,” he explains.
Other buyers need to keep viewing their chosen property just in case they suddenly spot some hidden flaw. Daniel says: “Another person saw a brand new flat four times. He kept opening the fridge door and looking into the wine cooler, turning on the shower and going out onto the terrace. He even got on his hands and knees to inspect the terrace floor. But in this market coming up for Brexit it is all about confidence and people like to be certain.”
One way that Daniel ensures buyers are confident about their purchase is by persuading them to view several properties. Although applicants often want to see just one flat he always takes them to see at least two, and preferably three or four, so they can get an idea of what is available in his area and what prices are like.