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The Great Escape: How to move to the country - The Buying Solution

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The Great Escape: How to move to the
As the much-vaunted �value gap’ finally starts to show signs of narrowing, fleeing
the Big Smoke will be high on clients’ agendas this year. So dig out that wax jacket,
stick on some Craven and hark at The Buying Solution’s hard-won advice…
Nick Mead, Partner in the Home Counties: “When clients come to us in the country seeking
a new home and are ready to exchange the city lifestyle for greener pastures there are usually two
key areas that they are looking to change. Firstly, lifestyle – in comparison to London, the
countryside offers green open spaces, a plethora of good schooling, less traffic, easier access to
leisure pursuits, fresh air and tranquillity and an enviable work-life balance. Generally most
buyers have reconciled this against a harder commute to work simply to receive the benefits of
countryside living.
“Increasingly people who are moving to the country do not want to feel like they are severing all
ties with life. They are used to being spoilt by having every possible amenity on their doorstep and
don’t want this to change. Residents want to feel like part of the community and to have all their
everyday needs within a stone’s throw. Everything homeowners can enjoy nearby in the city, they
now also want in the country. In truth, they want the best of both worlds.
“The market is currently strongest within the £750,000 – £2m price bracket, so if people are
sitting in a lovely house, the chances are they have quite a saleable product. The challenge is often
the downsizers are driven by identifying their future home before they contemplate selling their
current home and in many cases, the emotional wrench adds to this pressure.”
Edward Clarkson, from TBS’s Cotswold team: “Don’t empty the contents of your attic into
a spare bedroom just before you start marketing your house. It may be easier to sort this way but
the resulting chaos isn’t a great selling point. Furthermore it is important to remember you must
not make hugely onerous demands of your buyers such as mammoth completion periods or even
the expectation of regular visits to buried pets – a surprising but regular request!”
Bobby Hall, a Partner at TBS in the Southern counties: “Don’t be tempted to make major
investments in a new kitchen or bathroom as it is impossible to second guess the style that your
potential purchaser would like. Do freshen the house up with a lick of paint in heavily worn areas
and prune the garden if necessary. Buying an Aga for example might be your own taste but what if
the new owners would like a gas oven? Redecorating the whole house is a false economy as buyers
will often want to choose their own scheme.
“Regularly people forget about the legal aspects and how worthwhile it is to have a lawyer or
solicitor on board who will be able to perform and transact quickly. For the best homes there is
always competition and if you want a quick sale and a good price then the legal and financial
aspects must be in place first.”
Jonathan Bramwell, a Partner in the Cotswolds: “If you need finance, make sure to get a
Mortgage Offer in place before you offer so you can demonstrate that you are in a position to buy.
I would always advise that you provide a financial reference to the vendor and estate agent so they
can clearly see you are a cash buyer or have a mortgage offer in place. This gives them
encouragement that you are likely to offer.
“Plan ahead. Selecting a selling agent early doesn’t commit you to an early sale, but having an
agent on notice will give him/her the incentive to identify interesting onward opportunities. The
other advantage of an agent knowing your plans is that they may have knowledge of buyers
prepared to pay premium prices for off-market opportunities. Ultimately having the benefit of
planning time will undoubtedly pay dividends.”
Clarkson: “Buy in an area where you’ve got a network of existing friends. Think about the
community you will be living in and if it will suit your lifestyle, and the need for support in the
future. Don’t move too far from children and grandchildren so much so that they find visiting an
ordeal. Often busy modern lives mean that grandparents travel to children rather than the other
way around – you’ll be cursing the regular marathons up and down the motorway. Lastly, think
about access to shopping, transport, doctor’s surgeries, local entertainment and any other
necessities that add colour and ease to life both now and in the future.”
Mead: “Research and preparation are key points to keeping calm when entering the fraught
house hunting process. From a research perspective, the only way you will truly understand the
market is to see as much property in your particular price bracket as possible. Keep close to your
local estate agents and try to understand the prices achieved for comparable properties. By doing
so you will be much more in tune with what is fair and reasonable within the marketplace without
relying on hype. You will only know if you like once you’ve seen a lot which you don’t.”
Bramwell: “When it comes to preparation, it is important to make your position compelling to
the vendors and this may include producing an offer in writing, backed up by proof of funds with
a good dose of flexibility. Being able to demonstrate a clear understanding of the cost of
renovation work, if any, will also be required to help you secure a �preferred buyer’ status.
Spending money on a survey before you bid often puts you in a better position as you can confirm
you are happy with the condition of the property, as opposed to dealing with this at a later date
and causing a delay to the transaction. Furthermore, preparedness to accept minor issues that
might come up in a survey. Most vendors and agents will focus on building a solid deal as opposed
to gambling on a silly offer.
“Protect your position once a sale is agreed. Agree an exclusivity period once your offer is
accepted which will stop the vendor considering any other bids during this period and their estate
agent from any further viewings or marketing. Ideally this would be involving a Lock Agreement
being signed by both parties.”
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