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!
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?
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.
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.
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!