Thursday, October 18, 2012

House Hunt -Some Methods

Wow.  I keep hearing that it's a buyer's market in the real estate world, but that has not been our experience so far.

Sometimes I get really tired of looking for a place, and then we'll find something we love that we'll get excited about and I'm all charged up again.  Luckily, Niall is very consistent and is constantly looking at properties.  It's kind of fantastic being married to a researcher because he's so good a digging up different options.

I keep a running spreadsheet of the properties we've viewed.

Niall has an even more indepth method (I think he has hourly alerts and some extra apps that help), but here are a few tactics I've been using:
  • Check rightmove everyday.  I also have alerts set-up with them so they'll notify me by email on a daily basis if properties come up with my search parameters.  Outcome:  Fairly successful, this is the main site we use for viewings.
    Love the exposed brick in this bathroom:

  • Check GSPC's website a few times a week.  Outcome:  Positive.  We've found, viewed, and even offered on properties that righmove doesn't have.

  • Check The Church of Scotland property website about once a week (that's how often they seem to update.)  Outcome:  Pleasant to look at, but nothing so far.  We dreamed of getting this manse in Bankfoot.
  • Check Gumtree, findaproperty, zoopla, s1homes and other random property website a few times a week.  Outcome:  No luck so far, but there are some properties here we would have missed otherwise.
  • Walk or drive through the neighborhoods we like now and then, checking for any new for sale signs.  Outcome:  Positive.  We've found a few properties ahead of them coming up online and have been the first in to view.  We loved this house for the kitchen, but the layout didn't work for us.

  • Networking.  Basically if you've talked to me lately you know we're looking for a house.  So many people have been good about letting us know about places near them that are up for sale or may be coming on the market.   Outcome:  Positive, we've found out about a few properties this way.  It also makes me feel loved!
  • Explore new areas.  We have certain areas that we know we like, but just haven't found anything yet.  We'll talk about an area, or I'll hear about an area from friends, and then drive out there with the girls to get a feel for it.  Outcome:  Positive.  We've viewed some houses further afield and explored some areas and confirmed they're not the right place for us right now.
  • Agents.  Unlike the U.S., as buyers we don't have agents (typically) in the UK.  Sellers usually pay a 1-4% commission when their house sells.  We give out our details to the agents and let them know specifically what we're looking for.  When we talk to them about feedback on recently viewed properties, we let them know what we liked and what we didn't and ask what they have coming up that may be of interest.  The agents are out peddling on behalf of the seller, but it hasn't hurt to get on all the mailing lists and continually check back with them.  Outcome:  Okay.  We've gotten phone calls about potential properties coming on the market as well as properties that are just coming on.    
  • Direct flyers.  There is a neighborhood that I like and Niall is okay with.  I've been hoping and praying that a house that works for us will come up in the neighborhood, but nothing so far.  One day I took the girls out and spent three hours walking around pushing flyers through doors saying we're interested in buying.  


Our family is looking to buy a home in this area. I am doing this leaflet drop to try and find the right property, which has eluded us so far!

We are private buyers looking for a 3-bedroom home (or smaller but with scope for expansion) in the xxx area. We recently moved up from Wales and are renting a flat nearby and are in a position to move at your convenience. We have a solicitor and finances in place so can move as quickly or as slowly as need be.  We are happy to do work, but are also fine with a home that is closer to move-in condition.

If you may be interested in selling your house directly to a buyer and are happy to avoid estate agent fees, then I would be grateful if you could either call me on my mobile or send me an email to discuss further.

Thank you for your time,

    Outcome:  Positive.  I put out 85 flyers (the little girls were so tired after three hours of going door to door and I haven't had the energy to go and leaflet anymore yet) and had two responses.  We viewed one house so far. 

We've seen hundreds (maybe even thousands?) of properties online.  And even though we haven't yet been successful, seeing a lot of what is in our price range helps to manage my expectations.  We've seen a lot of places and get lots of ideas and a more solid understanding of we do and do not want.

House Hunt-Three Offers

Since June we have been madly hunting for a house.  The Cardiff house closed (meaning it officially sold, we handed over the keys and the buyers wired our solicitor the money) on June 27th.  We moved to Glasgow on June 26th and have been watching the property market with two sets of very keen eyes ever since.

So far, no luck.  We have viewed 30+ properties and put in offers on three.  Buying a house in Scotland is a different game than in Wales.  In order to put in an offer, we have to call our solicitor (lawyer) and have them put it in for us.  We don't get charged for each offer we put in, but pay a fixed fee once we can actually buy a house.

Sometimes, if there is a lot of demand for a house or to try to drive up the price, the estate agents set a closing date.  Basically, we get a deadline where the solicitor puts in our best offer and then the vendor makes a choice. The first one was a house in Kelvindale, which we offered the very top amount we could, but still were the lowest of five offers on the closing date.  It was move-in ready, beautifully renovated and just lovely.  I try to not be remorseful and tell myself it was three bedrooms (one was rather small, per usual) and the bathroom was a bit odd because of the roofline.  But, honestly, it was just nice.

courtesy of Rettie

On the second house, we were one of two offers at the closing date.  We didn't get chosen, but when I called the vendor's solicitor to find out why, they would only tell me there wasn't really any difference between our offer and the one that got chosen.  We weren't in love with the house, but it seemed good enough.  It also had three bedrooms, with a bathroom and a WC (half bath) downstairs.   It needed a lot of work.

 courtesy of googlemaps

The third house was on at a fixed price.  That means that whoever offers the asking price first gets it.  We watch the property websites very closely, so saw this pretty much within an hour of it going live.  We got the soonest viewing we could.  We saw the property at 6 PM one evening and called the agent the next morning as soon they opened (9 AM), saying we wanted the house.  They said we had to get our solicitor to make the offer.  I called and couldn't get our solicitor.   Then I texted, emailed, phoned the solicitor's cell (mobile) and called a few more times.  Our offer went in around 11 AM.  And guess what?  In between 9 AM and 11 AM someone else put in an offer and got the house instead.  It was another three bed, with one bathroom and one half bath (WC).  I didn't love it but liked it okay and we decided it could work for our family.  It was move-in ready.  I didn't feel bad about not getting it.

courtesy of rightmove

And, that's where we stand right now.  0 for 3 on offers, but still looking and hopeful!