By Jo Eccles
Q: I am about to exchange contracts on a purchase and am having a last minute wobble. Do you have any advice?
A: A last minute wobble is completely normal and I see many buyers go through it. Buying a property is a huge commitment, both financially and emotionally, so it’s understandable to have doubts as the reality gets closer.
If the cause of your last minute uncertainty relates to finances then go over your sums once more. We build spreadsheets for our clients outlining the purchase costs and enabling them to take into account mortgage payments, service charges, and so on. By doing this they feel really comfortable about being able to afford the purchase and ongoing costs.
On the other hand, if you’re concerned whether this is the right property for you, remind yourself of all the properties you’ve seen so far and what made you like this one in particular. We keep print outs of every property we’ve previewed or shown a client during their search and on a number of occasions I’ve sat down with an unsure client and recapped every single property which had been considered, as well as why each had been ruled out. This can be a really helpful reminder of just how great the property you’re buying is.
Equally, it may also remind you about the limitations of other areas or housing types. For example, I recently advised a buyer who wanted a flat in Earls Court and the flats were either slightly too small or had a little more space than he wanted or could afford. Ideally he wanted a flat which was in between but I had to point out that the flats in that location, within those buildings, typically only came in those two sizes. At that point he then started seriously focusing on what was genuinely an option, rather than being districted by the idea of his perfect property, which didn’t actually exist in the area.
The other cause of a last minute panic is if you’ve offered on a property very early on in your search and fear that you didn’t see enough options before making a decision. Don’t fall into this trap, go with your gut instinct. I’ve acted for so many buyers who saw a perfect property very early on but passed it up and then struggled to better it; quantity isn’t always necessary.
If you want to calm your nerves and need to have a final look at the property before you exchange contracts then do so, but try to not raise alarm with the estate agent and seller. I suggest calling the agent and saying that you want to measure up for furniture, or give another positive reason for wanting to see the property once more so late in the transaction. If the seller or agent gets the sense you’re having doubts, they can be difficult and I’ve seen some sellers try to refuse access to the property before exchange of contracts to avoid a last minute viewing and possible withdrawal of offer. Of course if you do go down the ‘measuring up’ route, don’t forget to take a tape measure!
If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email email@example.com or tweet her @joeccles.