Buyers are always looking for a bargain. There’s something psychologically satisfying purchasing an item for a price that would, could, or should have been higher. Whether it’s an antique you happen across in an op shop, or something you pick up in a department store end of year sale, the feeling is the same.
BY CATHERINE CASHMORE
However when it comes to quality real estate, true bargains are few and far between.
It’s not hard to purchase a house for a knockdown price if no one else wants it, but most of the time the house you want is the house three or four other people want as well. Therefore, one of the real tricks to buying ‘well’ starts during the search process.
One of the advantages of using a buyer advocate is the enjoyment of being offered the odd off market listing. The true definition of an off market listing occurs when the vendor has no intention of advertising on the open market, but would rather – for personal reasons – sell ‘quietly’. For this type of listing buyer advocates are usually the first port of call. Other advantages include the ‘heads up’ on properties prior to them being advertised. Viewing a property before it’s advertised enables a purchaser to do all the necessary ‘leg work’ involved before a plethora of competition builds up from other buyers. The result is an ideal playing field for strong negotiation.
However these listings are not just reserved for those working in the industry – they’re there for all who are willing to put in the extra effort during search process. Truly, the best bargains in real estate are those that fly under the radar, so how do you make sure you’re in the box seat when opportunity comes knocking? Try these tips:
- Don’t always view the selling agent as the enemy with one eye on your wallet. Take time to tell them what you’re looking for and the rough price range you’re searching in. Whenever you have a conversation about a property, ask if they have anything else coming up you may not have seen, and if they can keep you in mind if they do list anything with potential.
- Agents see and hear from hundreds of buyers each week, and if you’re not careful you’re likely to be lost in the crowd. Therefore don’t just talk to the agents at open for inspections while their watching the clock to get to the next listing. Walk into the local office in the area you’re searching in and ask for ten minutes of their time. Make sure they’re aware you’re ready to purchase ‘today’ should you find the right property. This will ensure there’s no illusion you’re simply another ‘window shopper’ assessing the market.
- Most agents traditionally have their sales meetings on a Monday morning, during which they find out who has listed what over the past few days. Set aside some time early in the week to give them a regular call and ask what properties are coming up. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t hassle.
- Once a house is listed for sale, most selling agencies will place a small board on the gate or fence informing passers-by of a ‘forthcoming auction’. This happens before advertising has commenced, so drive around the local streets each week to keep on top of any potential opportunities.
- Don’t set your parameters too tight. You don’t want to miss out on seeing something because the agent decides it doesn’t fit the bill. Let the agent know you’re willing to look at anything within your desired location and price range. This will ensure you get the widest possible choice.
- Make good use of the net.
Some vendors opt to go it alone without the help of a sales agent. Google ‘for sale by owner’ websites and check there’s nothing you’ve missed. Also when searching property websites don’t overlook the properties that are poorly advertised and not initially appealing to the eye. Throwing something into the ‘too hard basket’ because it’s not listed with an address, open time or pictures doesn’t mean it’s not a good home to assess. At the very least call the agent for more information and arrange to do a ‘drive by’.
Purchasing well isn’t something you can expect to do simply by attending a few opens for inspections on a Saturday afternoon. It’s a time consuming exercise which pays dividends to those who are prepared to do the necessary leg work. Get the search criteria right and you’ve already taken the first step towards success.
What do you think of these tips for finding a property bargain? Do you have any other tips? Tell us how you found a property bargain.
Catherine Cashmore is a senior property adviser and buyer advocate for JPP Buyer Advocates – the largest dedicated buyer advocacy in Melbourne. With extensive experience in all matters regarding real estate, JPP successfully purchases and negotiates over $100m worth of property each year for clients. http://www.jpp.com.au