A recent survey has uncovered the alarming statistic that 50% of agreed house purchases fail to make it through to completion.  Buying agent Tom Robinson takes time out to offer his four point plan to make sure you don’t become a victim of this unsavoury statistic. 

“Clearly there is little anything the hapless purchaser can do if the seller fundamentally decides they do not wish to sell – that unfortunately is tough luck.  However, there are various proactive measures a buyer can put in place to ensure the purchase of their dream home becomes a reality.   

1.  Once you have found that dream home you have been looking for negotiating the purchase begins.  There is the old adage that a property is worth what someone is prepared for it.  Yes, true, but in today’s uncertain economic climes surely “the ability to finance” is a more appropriate take on that old property cliché.  It is all well and good cracking open the bottle of bottle of bubbly on hearing the news from the amiable estate agent that the deal is done, only to have your dreams dashed when the not so friendly mortgage valuer down values your dream home below the tolerance threshold.  Essential therefore, to ensure that prior to offering on any property purchase, you, the savvy purchaser, carry out the same analysis as that conducted by the mortgage valuer.  Take a look at www.nethouseprices.com for recent comparable sales in the area and www.rightmove.co.uk to check the guide prices of other property on the market prior to offering.

2.  When we have found our dream home, we fall in love with the setting, location and the damn right beauty of our rural idyll.  The property is perfect in every possible conceivable way and the surveyor and the solicitors are immediately instructed; costs attributable to the purchase are therefore being incurred.  Before entering into any negotiations it is important to take a step back and do a little more DIY due diligence on the property prior to purchase.  Try and look at the property objectively rather than subjectively.  To help – I would always advise prospective homeowners a)to download the office copies and title plan from the land registry website www.landregistry.gov.uk .  Here you will manage to establish whether the boundaries are as they are being advertised and spot any restrictions or onerous covenants that may be applicable to the property without incurring abortive costs from your solicitor if the worst case scenario becomes the scenario and b) go on the local authority website to check what planning applications have been received and/or granted within the immediate locality.   The general amenity of the beautiful Old Vicarage is not going to be enhanced by the construction of the wind turbines or the waste incinerator plant located half a mile from your rural dream which have both just been passed.

3.  Once, as a buyer you have agreed to purchase your dream home you enter what is commonly referred to in the industry as the “sold subject to contract period”.  To ensure that no extraneous matters can affect the purchase it is key critical to make this period as short as possible.  How do I do this? Simple – ensure you have a solicitor on your side who is both practical and efficient; who as an empathy for the delicate passage on which you are about to embark and not just a first class honours degree from Cambridge – although the latter would be nice.  It is important that your solicitor looks at the issues that may arise during the sold subject to contract period with solutions rather than just problems.  There is nothing worse than a solicitor who would rather get “one up” on the opposing solicitor than recognising a clients’ simple desire to buy the dream home.  Take advice from those you know have bought recently and speak to the estate agents and find out who they would recommend.

4.  We would always recommend getting a full structural survey on your new purchase before committing to the exchange of contracts.  The survey is not to be looked at as a simple tool for renegotiation.  If purchasing a period property one has to accept that the property will not be in A1 perfect condition and there is likely to be the odd tile slippage or mild damp – this is common place.  That said if the roof is about to fall in, it would be obviously worth asking the question!  The surveyor you choose to carry out your survey is almost as important as choosing which solicitor you use to carry out the conveyancing.   You need a surveyor who understands the buying process; why the property is being bought.  You want them to be giving good sound practical advice.  I always feel for the surveyor and do not envy their task.  They put their necks on the line every day of the week for fear of potential litigation if the perfect (at the time of survey) Grade II listed chimney decides to fall from grace 2 months after completion.  The typical structural report will express caution on all aspects of your purchase and you will automatically doubt your sanity in purchasing what appeared to be your dream home.  I tend to advise my clients towards a surveyor who is happy to talk in layman’s speak, give good practical advice in “a say it how I see sort of way.”  As with my comments regarding solicitors – take advice from others.

The alternative to the above is to appoint a buying agent who can do all the due diligence for you so you can stop dreaming and make your dream home become a reality!