The closing date conundrum
Our resident expert Robert Telfer on how to successfully navigate the property market
The Scottish property market continues to boom, with demand outstripping supply – and nowhere is that more evident than in our own backyard, Glasgow’s south side.
I have spent most of my career working in the Glasgow property sector. As an estate agent, it wasn’t unusual for me to show 40 to 50 viewers around a single property on a Saturday afternoon.
Years later, and as a practising solicitor, the surge in house prices shows no sign of slowing. In some cases, the expectation is that the successful bid will be at the very least 20-25% over Home Report Value.
Astonishingly, one of my clients, the seller of a red sandstone semi-detached villa in Giffnock secured £170,000 over Home Report value. That’s great for the seller, perhaps, but disheartening for others in the bidding process left worrying that they will always be priced out of the market.
Why is there such a frenzy? Well, if you’re looking to buy in East Renfrewshire or East Dunbartonshire - the likes of Clarkston, Giffnock, Newton Mearns, Bearsden or Milngavie - you will most likely be attracted to the high calibre of schooling. Meanwhile, the bustling south side attracts many first time buyers with its trendy cafes, bars and restaurants and excellent transport links.
The focus used to be on Shawlands but a spike in buyer demand has spilled over into the adjoining neighbourhoods of Mount Florida and Battlefield. Demand spreads even further to places such as Laurieston/New Gorbals which are benefiting from a multi-million pound regeneration.
Clients often ask what they need to offer to secure their dream property. Unfortunately there is no set formula for offering at a closing date. It is impossible to predict the position of the other interested parties and what they may be willing to offer. Competition in this market is fierce, but there are ways to ensure you pitch your best bid.
Be proactive. Although the market has a strong online presence, don’t overlook the high street. Pop into your local estate agents (check their Covid policies in advance) and get to know the sales advisors. The more you speak with them, the more you obtain a sense of the trending property prices. Sales advisors cannot disclose exactly how much a property sold for at closing, but they should be able to give a rough indication. Don’t rely simply on Rightmove sold prices alone. These prices are recorded only after the Registers of Scotland have been updated, sometimes many months after the property was on the market. Don’t rely on out of date information in a fast moving market.
Have your finances ready
Speak to a mortgage advisor early in your property search. Most solicitors and estate agents can point you to a good mortgage broker if required. Secure an Agreement in Principle – some estate agents will ask for this at the outset. They might also request evidence of your ability to fund over and above the Home Report Value. Estate agents want their sellers to have as much certainty as possible when deciding which offer to accept. Be prepared with this information in case it tips the balance in your favour!
If you have a house to sell
Have it valued and market ready. If you are really keen on a particular property, why not suggest to the marketing agent that you also market your property through them? Sellers tend to feel a degree of comfort knowing that the marketing of their purchaser’s property is also being handled through their chosen agent. It provides a degree of continuity and a central point of contact if any issues crop up with the sale.
Consider a local solicitor
When finding a solicitor, consider instructing someone who has worked in and knows the local market. In some cases they may help you spot a dud! On one occasion, a client decided to steer away from buying a flat in a building which I knew from a previous transaction to be riddled with defects. City centre firms don’t necessarily have that level of insight. Local firms tend also to be accessible. It’s easier to nip in and make an enquiry about conveyancing services after seeing the perfect house in the window of the estate agents next door, rather than phoning through to a call centre and waiting to be called back by a solicitor.
Finally – don’t give up
Offer on a property only what you feel comfortable spending. Stick to your guns and don’t feel compelled to offer over the odds if you really don’t want to. The right property will come along in time. Most of my clients don’t succeed on their first attempt. It may take a few attempts, the budget may change, the net may be cast more widely and compromises may be made - but in my experience, every client ultimately finds success.
Closing dates can be daunting and sometimes disheartening. But success can be yours if you are proactive, prepared and ultimately patient.
If you need any conveyancing advice, call Robert Telfer on 0141 649 9552.