Would you buy a house without viewing it first?
Would you buy a Christmas party outfit without either trying it on for size or having the option of returning the clothing if it didn’t turn out to be suitable? What about a new home?
Award-winning estate agent Paramount Properties reports that one homebuyer in 20 doesn’t bother viewing a property before committing to taking out a six-figure 25-year mortgage.
Research commissioned by mortgage advisers at Which? magazine reveals that 11% of residential property buyers fail to carry out thorough checks for defects and about 5% take on a new home without viewing it first.
Of those who did take the time to see the property they were buying, Which? says 70% looked at whether there was any obvious damp or mould, 69% examined the general condition of the windows but 32% did not look for large cracks in the walls.
And even fewer people checked the condition of the chimney (36%), whether light switches were in working order (35%) or if the water pressure was adequate (28%).
This could be because many viewings take less than one hour. The in-depth study shows buyers aged between 18 and 34 take an average of 49 minutes to view a property, while first-time buyers take an average of 53 minutes to assure themselves that they have made the right choice.
On the other hand, property purchasers aged over 65 take an average of 74 minutes to view a property, according to Which? And of the property hunters who spent more than two hours on a house viewing, 71% paid less than the asking price.
If taking the time to identify faults in a property can significantly reduce the price you pay for it, why don’t more people invest time on viewing property?
Estate agents in Wimbledon say because there are not enough homes for sale in London to meet the demand, buyers feel under pressure to put in an offer for the full asking price as soon as a property is put up for sale – particularly if it is in a desirable location and close to transport links.
Where competition for the most desirable homes is intense, many sell for the full asking price in well under the 128-day average a London home remains on the market.
The same rules about a property’s location having a direct effect on its value apply to the rental market. Letting agents in Enfield say studio flats in this part of north London command an average rent of £242 per week because it is more than 14 miles from the City and the nearest Tube station is 2.5 miles away.
Like the rest of London, the cost of being a tenant in Enfield is by no means cheap but it is considerably more affordable than renting a property that is both two-thirds of a mile or less from a Tube station and closer to the centre of the city.
Estate agents in central London say high demand for rental properties has not only raised prices for a one-bed flat in Soho, for example, to an average of £784 per week but many shorthold tenancy agreements are signed without the tenant viewing the property.
However, at least tenants have the safeguard of being able to ask the landlord to rectify any faults with the rental property should the worst happen…