Is Now a Good Time to Go Ahead with Buying a Property?

Today, the housing market has been unlocked in England - viewings, valuations and house moves can now take place again. Here are the five questions to ask yourself if you're mid-purchase and you don't know what to do.

Buying a property is immensely stressful at the best of times, so having the whole process frozen part of the way through has been excruciating. Even now the housing market has re-opened in England, there’s plenty of fresh agony to come.

One of the most worrying questions for the hundreds of thousands of people who are mid-purchase, is what’s going to happen to house prices, and whether that means they should go ahead as planned, pull out, or renegotiate.

There’s a broad expectation that prices will fall this year. But nobody really knows how far, how fast, or for how long. It makes it nigh-on impossible to be certain of the best approach.

However, there are five questions you can ask yourself, so you can be sure that whatever the outcome, you made the right decision for your own circumstances.”

  • Have I over-stretched myself – and therefore is this a good opportunity to avoid a mistake?

In a rising market it’s always tempting to push your budget to the limit – and sometimes beyond. If you felt under pressure to offer more than you could really afford, or if your circumstances have changed as a result of the crisis, the purchase may not make sense any more.

  • Would I rather live somewhere else – and does this give me the chance to do so?

Every house purchase is a compromise, but if you made compromises you’ll struggle to live with because you couldn’t afford what you wanted, a falling market could push more attractive properties into your price range.

  • What’s the cost of pulling out – and is it worth it?

If you’ve already exchanged contracts, losses could be really substantial. The seller has the right to keep your deposit, and there could be penalties on top. Before you exchange, there could still be significant costs. If you’ve done searches and paid surveyors and lawyers, you could lose thousands of pounds. Even at the early stages, if you’re a first-time buyer, this could end up costing you thousands of pounds more in rent if you go back to the drawing board. Before you make any decisions, calculate what you stand to lose.

  •  Am I planning to be in the property for a while – in which case do price drops really matter?

It’s only natural to worry about falling prices – and the risk that you’ll pay over the odds. However, this matters far more if it’s somewhere you’ll be selling in a couple of years, so you end up with less than you started with – and even risk falling into negative equity. If you intend to live there for a reasonable period, there’s every chance prices will have recovered when you come to sell.

  • Am I prepared to risk losing this property? Which is always a possibility if you want to negotiate.

If you really want to buy the property, but you’d like a price reduction to protect you from future price falls, you can contact the seller through the estate agent and open negotiations. You may well get a reduction of some kind, because it’s a buyers’ market at the moment. However, any time you try to negotiate, you need to be prepared for them to refuse and take their chances back on the market. If this is the home of your dreams you need to be certain you’re prepared to risk this.

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