On the move
Many of the houses you come across are already sale-agreed. In this uncertain market, agents are leaving those “For sale” signs up for longer until the deal is almost signed. So save time and ring the agent straight away if you’re interested.
On the other hand, just because it’s sale-agreed doesn’t mean it’s sold. Even though one agent recently remarked that this was a “very rare occurrence”, in my experience it’s not. We have viewed several houses which have come back on the market after previously falling through: in one case the agent said that the buyers were moving to Cork instead while another said the buyers’ finance fell through.
The house that was off the market before you even got to see it will become your “perfect house” and, despite never setting foot in it, it will rightly or wrongly inform many of your later decisions.
“No, I couldn’t consider this house because the other one’s garden was much bigger,” you’ll hear yourself say, without ever having even seen it.
And on the subject of gardens, bear in mind that it will never be as lengthy as it looks online. Maybe there’s some estate agent app I’m not aware of that lengthens the shot, but we have trekked off to see some houses just on the basis of the gardens. And that photo pretty much always lies.
Don’t go to a viewing without doing a drive-by first. While you can get carried away looking at photos and the estate agent’s spin online, simply driving past the house can offer a much-needed sense of realism. How close is it to public transport? What do the neighbours’ houses look like? Is it on a busy road? How misleading are the photos?
No-one knows exactly where the bottom of a housing market is, so disregard agents confidently telling you so. Maybe it’s already been and gone, or maybe we have yet to reach it, we’ll only know in time. But if you are inclined to buy into Time magazine’s tale of a “Celtic Comeback” or the recent hikes in the CSO property price index, remember that there are plenty of naysayers still out there.
UK investment magazine Money Morning recently warned its readers to stay away from Irish property, arguing that the new Insolvency Law might send prices down further.
And finally, everyone will tell you that “you’ll know it when you see it”. Here’s hoping.