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Finding a new home

People will buy homes, be they flats, houses or sites, for a wide number of reasons.  For many it is a purchase to make their own home, for others it is a form of investment and the aim is to convert the investment into a reasonable gain.  There are some who buy for short term requirements and others may never move again.  Some are looking for a second home either to rent out or use themselves as a holiday home.  This is only a few of the reasons why property will change hands.

People selling property are, however, faced with very different reasons.  Some simply want to relocate to a different area possibly for work, retirement or other domestic reasons.  Some will be selling because the home is costly to run, in need of repair, or it has lost its charm.  Some will have previously bought the property with the intention of making some minor improvements and hope to sell the property again at a much higher price.

When someone is looking for a home, they will inevitably be looking at some form of advertisement either online, in print or in an estate agent's window.  Very occasionally someone might be buying in an entirely private way from a friend or acquaintance who is willing to sell.  Whatever the manner in which you come to be aware of a property you can buy, the Latin maxim 'caveat emptor' must always be borne in mind.  That phrase means 'let the buyer beware' and is a principle that is vigorously followed in English Law regarding the sale of real property. 

So when looking at a house, don't be afraid to seek help to find out if it has a hidden past or some impending doom is beset to reduce its value.  Indeed, it is certainly the buyer, and not so much the seller, that needs this assistance and can get into a lot of problems very easily if the buyer ignores or fails to obtain such assistance.

The house buying system in the UK, and more especially in England and Wales, is geared heavily in favour of the seller.  The estate agent is the seller's employee.  The agent will never be working in the interests of the buyer no matter how charming or helpful he or she may be.  The estate agent's job is to market the property for the highest price that can be charged for it and the incentive is a fee that is a percentage of the agreed price.  The estate agent is very unlikely to want to encourage a buyer to see if the seller will reduce its price and regrettably there have been cases exposed showing that some unscrupulous estate agents deliberately did not pass on lower than expected offers to the seller in an attempt to ensure that they got the best fee value.  The seller has no incentive to complain if the property still sold within a short time.  Estate agents are usually much more professional than that, but the nagging doubt must remain that they are not really too interested in low offers and will try to achieve near the asking price if not above it.  In Scotland a system of bidding on a nominal price produces some very interesting results, with properties offered at a price regarded as the minimum for which someone will sell, and the aim is to get potential buyers to outbid each other. Another difference is that the bids include a date for completion is offered as well, and sometimes the combination of a reasonable price and quick sale can outbid a higher price with a longer lead time. Whatever system, the aim is of course to maximise the property value, and this can never be in the best interests of the buyer.

So if you are a buyer, you certainly need to arm yourself with a few key experts and you should fully understand who is doing what and for whom.   For some useful things to consider when choosing a brand new, recent or older property to puchase, take a look at this page.

Let's have a look first at The seller's team and then we can look at The buyer's team, it is these guys who will save you money and as you will see in The buyer's costs your advisers don't actually cost too much relative to the benefits they bring you.

Last updated 28th September 2012

Did you know that most people spend more time selecting a new TV than choosing a new home?