Eight buyers for every house

Homes for sale supply at record low

Estate agents say there are more people looking for a new home now than at any other time in the past 11 years. Meanwhile, the number of properties on the market has failed to keep pace - so that the average agent has 462 people looking to buy, and just 44 properties for sale. Buyers need the right approach to secure a house in this kind of market.

The report from the National Association of Estate Agents found that the number of houses for sale has finally started to increase, and went up 25% between June and July. However, it still falls way short of demand - so on average there are eight buyers chasing each home on the market.

The unbalanced nature of the market means it's proving tricky to complete a purchase. The average number of sales per branch remained stuck at nine over the course of the month. Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents, said this wasn't particularly surprising at this time of year, because so many sellers go on holiday and the sales process grinds to a halt for a few weeks.
However, he added that he hoped to see more sellers encouraged to come into the market by the increased activity, and the number of sales start to ramp up.

How to buy in a sellers' market

When you are trying to buy in this kind of market, you need the right tactics to ensure you are top of the pile when a seller is considering the offers on the table. There are five vital steps worth taking.

1. Get your mortgage agreed in principle.
If the lender has already indicated that they will lend what you need for a house, you will be able to move quickly when you find the right property. Sellers are looking for a stress-free sale, so this will appeal.

2. Get your mortgage broker to contact the estate agent
If you have a mortgage agreed, and you are using a broker, getting them to call the agent to confirm lending is in place will help your offer stand out from the others.

3. Sell your house first
If your home is sold (subject to contract), then the estate agent and the seller know you will be keen to sell as soon as possible so you're not holding your chain up. This will move you closer to the top of the pile.

4. Decide exactly what you want
Make your list of must-haves, and nice-to-haves, and be absolutely certain of them. You need to be able to look at a house and know quickly whether you can live with its drawbacks in order to take advantage of its plus points. That way, as soon as a house hits the market, you will know if you want to see it, and as soon as you see it you'll be able to move quickly with an offer.

5. Contact your estate agent regularly
It takes time to generate marketing details and upload them to the internet, and in the interim you can catch them on the phone and be first in through the door.

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Eight buyers for every house

In Scotland, Edinburgh is seen as a city with huge growth potential. In 2014, prices in Edinburgh were up 10% in a post referendum boom that shows little sign of slowing down.

Local agents are not expecting quite such stellar growth for the next 12 months, but they think price rises will be well above the average predicted for the whole country.

Rightmove named this as the area where it expects house prices to grow the most over the next five years. It says that over this period there will be a huge number of people moving out of London in order to afford to get onto the property ladder. They want a reasonable commute combined with plenty of attractions in the local area, and Southampton offers all this. With relatively affordable housing stock, it's a prime candidate for growth.

Luton was Rightmove's candidate for the second biggest house price rises over the next five years. It emphasised that this isn't a mater of opinion, it is the result of crunching the data.

Luton is another major beneficiary of the move out of London, and while it is arguably not as attractive a place to live as Southampton, it's only 23 minutes into central London - which rivals some of inner London's commuter times. With average prices of £179,368, it's clearly a far more affordable option, and the area has already started to show signs of a boom.

This was the third area suggested by Rightmove. As with Southampton, it is well positioned for London commuters, and also has huge local attractions.

A survey last year asked young professionals to name the place they would most like to live, and Brighton and Hove were the only areas that appeared on the list outside London.

One of the reasons it's not higher up the list is that houses are already on the pricey side, with an average cost of £338,956 - up 13% in the past year alone.

There may be few people who grow up with the dream of living in Swindon, but the electrification of the rail line to London will bring travel times down across the West Country, so Swindon becomes part of the outer commuter area.

Given that the average property costs £168, 968, it's easy to see why Swindon will be a popular option for commuters on a tight budget.

Bath is also going to benefit from electrification of the line, because the commute to London will fall to a manageable 70 minutes. The beauty of the city - along with a vibrant social and cultural life - makes it a clear choice for more long-distance commuters.

Of course, with an average asking price of £374,617, it's not a tremendously cheap place to buy, but the geography of the city restricts development, so these prices are expected to rise still further.

Property Frontiers says that the booming house prices in Oxford are set to get even higher. At the moment, travel to London takes 60 minutes, but this will reduce even further in 2016 when the line is electrified. Prices in the most desirable parts of the centre aren't much cheaper than London.

However, further out there are pockets of affordability, and when the Water Eaton station opens in 2015 it will open up areas to the north of the city too.

Manchester has seen enormous property price rises over the last couple of years, and Property Frontiers expects this to continue into 2015.

Other commentators are expecting the growth to slow over the next few years, especially given the gains made since 2012. However, demand for properties remains buoyant, and with the growth of the local economy, price rises seem inevitable.

Rising prices in London have pushed buyers further and further out of the centre, so estate agents are now claiming zone three as 'the new zone 2'.

Savills believes that the biggest gains over the next five years will be the less glamorous districts - putting the South and East in the frame. Gritty areas that could benefit include Ladywell, Streatham and Catford in the south, and Leytonstone, Forest Gate and Walthamstow in the east.

Cambridge could also perform well. It has already had house prices lifted by the growth of tech companies to the north of the city, and the arrival of pharmaceutical headquarters will help push prices up further.

In 2016 a new rail service from the city to the science park will keep prices rising, and beyond the opportunities presented by the local economy, Cambridge is also part of the 'outer commute' area of London, which Savills expects to shoot up in value over the next five years.


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