Photo by PhotoMIX Company

People looking to buy or sell a home between now and Christmas should “plan for every eventuality”, a leading property expert has said.

Jonathan Rolande, from the National Association of Property Buyers, issued the advice as part of Talk Money Week.

A national initiative, running from Monday 6 to today (Friday 10 November), Talk Money Week encourages people to have more open conversations about their money, from pocket money to pensions.

This year’s theme is ‘Do One Thing’, with the aim of getting people to do one thing that can improve their financial wellbeing.


Explaining the ‘one thing’ he’d advise in this area, Jonathan said: “At the moment there is a huge amount of uncertainty around the housing market, but that shouldn’t put people off if they think now is the right time for them to buy or to sell.

“So if there’s one piece of advice I’d offer, especially to first time buyers, it’s to plan for every eventuality.”

Setting out the other areas of advice he’d offer to purchasers, Jonathan pointed out four key things:

  • Remember that until exchange of contracts (right near the end of the process), if something goes wrong and the purchase collapses, you’ll be stuck with no property and fees to pay to the mortgage company, surveyor and solicitor. Consider insurance that covers these should the worst happen.”
  • It’s impossible to know whether now is the right time to buy but to help make a decision, consider where you will live if you don’t. Many people prefer to rent as it is far more flexible but others don’t like the insecurity. Everyone is different.
  • Many people borrow from their family to make a first purchase. There’s nothing wrong with that but you need to consider what will happen if the value falls and you sell or if a relationship breaks down. Will you split the profits when you sell? What if the lender needs the money back?
  • And remember that golden rule, try to plan for every eventuality.

Estate agents must be fair to both buyer and seller, but never forget that it is the seller who pays them and their role is to get the best possible price. Never give too much away on a viewing! The market can go up and down – it always does. But how much you pay is only relevant when you sell so it’s not worth getting stressed about month by month fluctuations.

Turning to sellers he advises:

  • You’ll need to complete a Property Information Form when you sell so have all guarantees and receipts to hand or the sale will be delayed. This includes things like FENSA Certificates, damp proofing guarantees, agreements for solar panels etc.
  • Get a few valuations from good agents but be wary of simply choosing the agent who gives the highest asking price, or the lowest fee.
  • Shop around for removal and solicitor quotes before you sell – the differences in cost can be huge.
  • If your EPC grade is borderline, consider getting some work done to push it up a bracket – buyers pay more for an energy efficient home.

Also offering their advice as part of Talk Money Week is Together, an award-winning specialist mortgage and secured loan provider.

Alan Davison, from Together, said: “It is worth exploring bridging finance to snap up a deal quickly. It’s common to see some great deals on the market around Christmas time, and if the property has been listed during the busier autumn period but not sold there is a good chance that the seller may be willing to negotiate on price.

“Consider the property you are buying and your income. There can be obstacles in the way of those looking to get a mortgage, made more difficult considering many mainstream lenders lack an appetite in the current economic climate. Certain properties could be classed as ‘non-standard’, such as listed country cottages or homes built with timber or a thatched roof, and lenders who take a rigid ‘computer says no’ approach may not be able to provide the home loan you’re looking for.

And keep track of your financial situation. Christmas is often a time when we overspend, whether that be on expensive gifts, holidays or mountains of food and drink. However, be aware that increasing your debt over this period can hinder your chances of securing a mortgage in the future. For those with adverse credit, it is worth exploring specialist lenders who can take into account your personal financial situation.”