In, out what’s it all about if you’re moving home?

30/01/2019 11:09:56

When the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, warned last September that a disorderly Brexit could send house prices crashing by a third, many people dismissed his comments as the latest instalment of Project Fear.

Forecasts of economic doom caused by Britain exiting the European Union are viewed very differently depending on which side of the argument you fall.

Even those who balk at predictions of financial Armageddon will have taken note of some figures published this week suggesting that the political uncertainty surrounding Brexit has helped to push transactions in central London to their lowest in a decade.

While property markets elsewhere in the UK have remained steady and, in the case of much of Glasgow, appear to be booming, the current political deadlock poses some important questions for those buying or selling property.

While politicians continue to squabble, businesses do their best to make contingency plans and households stockpile tea bags and aspirin, some people are in the process of moving home.

Most of us might think that now is the worst possible time to make such a huge, financial commitment but Rightmove, the property portal, reports that viewings are up on this time last year.

We may be experiencing greater uncertainty than any of us can remember but it appears boredom with Brexit is prompting many of us to press on with our lives, regardless. 

There are still several underlying issues of concern in the property market, namely that  prices are high relative to earnings and that interest rates are rising, compounded by exacting mortgage-market conditions.

While the costlier markets, in London and the south-east, continue to underperform, north of the border we don’t appear to have been negatively affected. Not yet, anyway.

A disorderly Brexit may change all that and the gloomier forecasters predict prices may fall by  10% - or even higher if we leave the EU without a deal.

Homeowners looking to move might, perhaps be thinking about delaying their decision until the current impasse has been resolved, but for some, holding-off may not be an option.

If you’re one of those, here are responses to some frequently asked questions about property prices and Brexit.

Should I buy now? Given current market conditions there’s no obvious advantaged to be gained by waiting until there’s greater clarity in the market. Holding out and hoping prices will fall may simply mean you miss out on your desired property.

Should I sell now? The supply of homes for sale is at an historic low in many parts of Glasgow so, if you have a property to sell, you could use this to your advantage. There’s a particular shortage of family homes. If you’re sitting on a desirable property in a sought-after area, you should have no difficulty finding a buyer.

Is it taking longer to find a buyer because of Brexit? Rightmove reported recently that Scotland has the fastest selling times in the UK, at 53 days, while in some parts of Glasgow the average time from putting your home on the market to receiving a first offer is less than a fortnight.

Can I test the market before March 29? Having a property listed for sale over several months can be a turn-off to potential buyer and dropping the price can be even more off-putting. One way to avoid creating a digital footprint is to ask your estate agent to advertise your property “off market”, by advertising it only to buyers on their database.

What can I do if my property doesn’t sell? Look at the asking price and consider how the property is being marketed. If it’s unfurnished, think about adding some decoration or furniture. Sometimes small adjustments to your schedule can make a difference such as changing the order of images or getting some better photographs taken.

Can bargains be picked up amid Brexit uncertainty? In some areas, price falls have been caused by non-Brexit related factors such as high stamp duty charges. It is still possible to negotiate a bargain with the biggest discounts to be had in more expensive areas. Rightmove will tell you what prices you can expect to pay from comparable sales in each area.  PropCast (theadvisory.co.uk/propcast looks at the number of properties for sale in each postcode area and calculates the percentage under offer or sold subject to contract.

Is it worth haggling? If a seller is being pressured to move, you’ll be in a better position to bargain, particularly if you’re not in a chain and you don’t need a mortgage.

How can I mitigate against rising interest rates? Interest rates are increasing, and most estate agents expect them to continue rising throughout 2019.  As a result, buyers are tightening their belts, with more re-mortgaging to lessen their exposure, moving to mortgage-free or cutting maintenance bills. More people are moving onto fixed-rate deals, but the clever money is against fixing for longer than five years as lots of external factors – including Brexit - could influence and change the market in the medium term.

For more information contact your nearest Scottish Property Centre branch or visit  https://www.scottishpropertycentre.net

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