House Hunting during a Property Boom

As mentioned recently, I have been house-hunting.

The last time I did this was ten years ago, when I bought my BTL flat.

Different times, different circumstances, different reasons.

Fast forward to today and let’s just say that had I been able to, I would have picked a less frantic and chaotic time to look for a new home!

Boom

I’m sure most of you will be aware that there’s currently a property boom, with properties being snapped up like hot cakes, despite the continually rising (and often ridiculous) prices. It’s definitely a seller’s market.

As soon as I knew I was buying, I registered with around a dozen local estate agents. Only 2 bothered to get back to me – they’re inundated with buyers.

Walking into the estate agents’ offices yielded better results. Some properties were on the market for only a few days (some for just one day) before they were sold and I can verify this from my own experience of fruitless efforts.

Why the boom?

Various factors, including people having surplus cash saved up during lockdown and of course the stamp duty holiday. That said, house prices are predicted to continue rising for a while longer even after the holiday ends and then at some point, the housing bubble might burst – the prices can’t continue to go up forever, can they?

Viewings

Anyway, it was weeks of frustrating searching before I was even able to get to view my first property, despite finding several which I liked.

With COVID restrictions still in place, properties were already sold or under offer even before I had the chance to enquire about them, never mind view, or the sellers weren’t accepting any more viewings because they already had (on two properties I was interested in) over 30 buyers interested. Ridiculous.

I realised that I had to dedicate time in the day to enquire about properties – leaving it until when I’d finished work was too late.

Went to view one house which was nice at an affordable price but I realised that it was too far away from friends and family (and work, as I’ll still be expected to go in the office, even if on a flexible basis) so at least I was getting a sense of how far I would be willing to move to.

Agents told me that they had even been selling some properties with no viewings (as in people just buying from looking at photos) – it’s not something I would contemplate doing.

Alas, with demand far exceeding supply, I’m competing against families looking for a decent 3-bed semi-detached, with a nice garden in a nice location. Lockdown has changed the priorities and perspectives for many, although such properties have always been in demand, the current boom is exacerbating things somewhat.

I’ve been thankful that I’m working from home so I’ve been able to block out my calendar for 40 mins and nip out for viewings in the afternoon; this task would have been virtually impossible had I been in the office, with only evenings or weekends available.

Rush Hour

I know I shouldn’t rush my decision in buying a house, but I feel like I’m caught up in very fast moving times and if I don’t move at the same speed, I will miss an opportunity and in this current climate, there aren’t that many to begin with. And of course, property prices continue to march ever upwards.

via GIPHY

Don’t get me wrong, I’m in a much better place than I was a couple of months back when my head was in a complete spin and I couldn’t think straight.

I have a plan, I’m progressing with it, I feel like I’m getting back in control.

When I see a house I really like, I will make an offer – I don’t feel like I have the luxury to dilly-dally or drag things out.

Anyway, I have a viewing lined up this weekend and another next week, so fingers crossed I will find somewhere soon, somewhere which ticks most of my boxes.

I’m resigned to the fact that I probably won’t find my perfect ‘dream home’, but whatever I find, I hope to just make it ‘my home’.

Wish me luck!

18 thoughts on “House Hunting during a Property Boom

  1. Do you have a deadline of when you have to move out?

    I think with stamp duty ending and furlough ending late September there could be an interesting impact on demand, when those poor folks start to lose their jobs….

    • Hi Jimbo
      No actual date, just a family deadline of ‘ASAP!’

      Agree, I see on the news that furlough isn’t going to be extended so unfortunately, some folks may lose their jobs or companies go under.

  2. Wow how crazy. I remember at the beginning of the lockdown discussing with colleagues and partner that it seemed like a good chance for buying a house could finally come since we all expected prices would drop. The scenario has been completely the opposite. It told me that predicting hosing price moves is like timing the stock market, you never know what the price will do.

    Another reason why prices are rising could be Brexit? I would expect Brits no longer buy houses abroad that much? (uninformed guess).

    Anyway, good luck with the hunting. Hope you can find a nice home at affordable price soon.

    All the best.

    • Hi Tony

      As Jack Bogle said of investing, ‘Nobody knows nothing’!

      I don’t know if Brexit is part of the reason, I believe some Brits have returned but no idea if their numbers have any impact.

      Thanks for the kind wishes.

  3. Good luck Weenie.

    If you are time poor and have a clear idea about what you want (location, size, configuration, etc) then using a buyer’s agent might be worth considering in such a hot market. The good ones will have existing networks of contacts to get the inside track on upcoming and off market listings, which might allow you to avoid getting into a bidding war with cashed up millennials backed by the bank of Mum and Dad.

    Another option to consider is auctions. Provides contract certainty (no gazumping) and allows moving quickly providing you are organised. Downside is limited choice, often foreclosure sales, that firmly fall into the “before” category of the home makeover photos.

    • Hi indeedably

      I’ve sorted out my time planning now a bit better – making sure I take time to have a lunch, during with I will sort out some house stuff!

      Never considered a buyer’s agent so will look into if I continue to struggle.

      Not sure I’d be comfortable going down the auction route – saw a few properties listed as for auction and although the prices were low, they will need a lot of work on them to make them into the kind of home I’d like to live in.

  4. I remember something similar happening when I was looking to buy my first property after starting my first graduate job in 2006. My colleagues were quick to tell me that “you have to get on the ladder ” because “prices will just keep going up”. Yet prices were crazy and I opted not to buy. Several of my colleagues who moved at that time ended up in negative equity and had to take a loss when they moved again.

    The property market is difficult to predict. About this time last year I remember being in a meeting with a developer who was giving me a tale of woe about where the market will be in a year. My retort was that given what happened in 2008 and the bluster before it, a sound strategy would be to plan for the opposite of what the property market experts forecast!

    I do think that this can’t continue much longer. All that has happened is that demand has been brought forward – those same people can’t keep moving. I also wonder how many will regret these moves when they’re faced with a much longer commute (most of us will still have to travel into the office at least for half the week) and they are further away from ammenities. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the trend to live further out reverse in a year or two.

    Is it an option for you to rent somewhere for a short while? Renting isn’t great but it does give you time to see out the property market madness.

    • I very much agree with this take. There is every sign of frothiness in property markets, egged on by ill-advised Government incentives and a lack of anything else to spend it on.
      Whilst it would be naive to expect big price drops, there really is only so far this can go. In my opinion, anyway.

      • Indeed – however, once those government incentives are gone, will there be a gradual slow down or will just the hint of it cause a drop off the cliff in everything else, eg stock markets?

    • Hi mrmisanthropeblog

      Agree that ‘bubble’ can’t continue much longer, it is a case of when and how spectacular the aftermath will be and its repurcussions.

      And yes, even with flexi-working being introduced now where I work, I can see that they will want more people in the office at some point in the future and I do wonder how those people who have moved into the countryside for example might have to cope when this happens.

      I had considered renting but that’s not part of my plan right now.

  5. This sounds pretty tough. It reminds me of my daughter’s experience when she was looking to buy her first flat and kept getting pipped at the post by professional buy-to-letters waving cash. She got there in the end, but it was brutal.

    I’ve bought and sold many properties over the years (bought my first flat aged 21) and it’s fair to say that I’ve always had to compromise. I think the main thing is to figure out what is fixable (even if not immediately) and what is not, and then to keep an open mind.

    So, 2 bedrooms instead of the 3 you ideally wanted, no second loo, or a too-small kitchen are all fixable in time with a loft conversion, small extension or whatever.

    But the motorway at the bottom of the garden, shared driveway (please don’t buy a house with a shared driveway – it nearly always ends in tears, lol!) or no bus route, are not.

    Everyone’s priorities are different, of course, and you’ve clearly already identified that you don’t want to be too far from friends and work. So that’s something to work with.

    Your sale is not tied to your purchase, as I recall, so I can’t see any benefit to you in moving out and renting.

    Fingers crossed that the market cools a bit soon, and that you can snag a house with the potential to provide everything that’s important to you.

    Jane in London

    • Hi Jane

      Yes, compromise is the key – I’m not willing to do so on location so I’ll have to on the actual property itself. At least I had already lowered my expectations in terms of finding the ‘perfect’ house but perhaps I need to dial it down a bit more in terms of ‘nice to haves’. Thanks for the tip on the shared driveway!

      Agree, there is no benefit to me moving out and renting.

      Thanks and yes, fingers crossed indeed!

  6. Somebody has probably already mentioned the idea, but have you considered offering your tenants a compensation payment if they will move out now? As long as you agree on a sum that’s smaller than the extra stamp duty you would otherwise have to pay on buying your desired house, you would be in profit.

    You’d need to square your mortgage firm with your living in the flat yourself; you’d need to know any costs involved with that before you approach your tenants.

    • Hi dearieme

      As I would only be moving my tenants out if I was considering living in my BTL myself (which I’m not), this isn’t something I would consider doing. If I was selling, I’d be selling to another landlord with the longstanding tenants in situ.

      As for stamp duty, I can’t get away with not paying it I’ve never lived in the BTL. I have an idea of how much it will cost so it’s just an extra expense in my book.

  7. Hi Winnie,

    I’ve never seen anything like the current state of the housing market.

    To be honest, I’d been imagining Manchester empty at the moment (tumbleweed down Market Street?) as half the city’s inhabitants do seem to be over here in North Wales, buying up anything that doesn’t move as a holiday home. Prices are, of course, shooting up.

    It’s not just houses…. I had cause to sell a motorhome last week. Covid seems to have mysteriously snuck £10k onto the price of a new motorhome, with used prices shunted up accordingly (so a three year old motorhome on the forecourt now could cost you what the original buyer paid new).

    I’m sure there are plenty of other examples out there. Where will this all end, I wonder?

    Jo

    • Hi Jo

      It never occurred to me that the property boom would extend to motorhomes too but I guess with staycations featuring in the near future for many, demand will push those prices up too. Other things going up are used car prices apparently.

      I walked down Market Street the other day – it wasn’t crowded like it normally would have been at that time of day, but there was a lot more people about than I thought there would be. It was nice however to not see it as a ghost town!

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