Are you a serious buyer or a time waster?

Moving home is such a 'personal' activity that, in many cases, broad economic/financial signals play only a small part of the decision-making process.

Basically, not that many people 'have' to move.  You probably only account for 30-40% of transactions, probably the easiest ones, as you are the most focused - people having to move: landlords cancelling a tenancy; people moving with a job; moving with a partner; current home just too small; can't afford the mortgage and need to downsize; partnership splits and so on.

After 'having to' comes 'wanting to': I want a sea view; garden; garage; study; 2nd home; make money on a property; buy to let; etc,.  You are probably the rest, up to 60% of potential buyers.  You really don't have to buy but will if the right property comes along.

You are an estate agent's daily challenge.  How do we 'convert' your casual unfocused approach into handing over the keys on completion?

It's a two-way street.  

All buyers, casual or not, want to be taken seriously but you need to exhibit the signs.  So, if you want to be considered a 'serious' buyer, here are some tips:

No 1.  Have your finance in place and tell the agent the ins and outs of it.  I know it's your private affair but if you want to be taken seriously by a seller, the agent needs to know so please don't spin the agent a yarn...it will come back and bite you later on when your spurious offer is accepted then...nothing happens as your finance turns out to be 'made of straw'.

No 2.  Decide the kind of property you want and target that...don't do 'champagne taste with beer money'; so many people do.  Be realistic.  With your finance in place, only look at what you can afford or you are wasting your time, the sellers' and the agents'. They won't like you for it as they are busy enough already.

No 3. Set a timescale to buy, not just 'whenever...'.  If you speak to an agent and give them a timescale, you will move up the ladder as a 'serious buyer'.

No 4. If you have no idea on timing, don't hassle agents to register you on their database as they will have enough 'serious buyers' already.  You can see what's on the market online 24 hours a day so just keep looking.  Many agents allow you to 'register' to receive property alerts by email without contacting them, so that is a great way to get started.

No 5.  Come in to meet the local agents when you have done your research online and know what the local market offers.  You will quickly discover the agents you want to deal with, who really know their area and the types of property available.  If you then are sure you are 'serious', tell the agent and get yourself known to them so you will get the phone call or email when the right kind of property turns up.  

Mutual trust goes a long way, believe me.

Best of luck for 2014

Paul Bonett