Recently, the media has been awash with frightening stories about ‘gazumping’ – and even ‘ghost gazumping‘ – where buyers who had their offers initially accepted were left out of pocket and pretty annoyed after the seller accepted a higher offer from someone else. The desperate shortage of property in London and the south east means that this is a problem that shows no signs of completely going away. It’s not just this that rattles would-be buyers; the prospect of having to compete against a hoard of other determined competitors is also very off-putting. And some estate agents don’t help, by ramping up the rhetoric about ‘x property being very popular – you’ll probably need to bid above the asking price’ and arranging ‘open days’ where buyers are shuffled around properties like sheep.
Unfortunately this is just part of the new reality of buying a home, and as with anything, those who do their homework have a better chance of achieving their desired result. After all, no one wants to end up paying over the odds for an average two-bed in an ok-ish suburb and run the risk of being stuck in negative equity/generally regretting the purchase further down the line.
As with many things in life, a good strategy can be to look at what everyone’s doing and do the opposite. After all, there’s going to be a ton of competition for that Victorian three-bed conveniently close to transport links and located in a pretty good part of town. Even if it’s on for a reduced price as it needs ‘updating’, don’t kid yourself; the competition will be intense (again, we’re talking especially about popular parts of London and the south east here).
It would therefore be wise to not get your hopes up too much if the competition is fierce.Think very carefully as to whether you want to play this game; there’s a good chance that you won’t win. Obviously, it depends how many people are in the running, but remember that estate agents always exaggerate (of course it depends – there are honest estate agents out there, but they’re in this industry to make cash first and foremost).