Psychology of House Buying

Blame for delays and breakdowns in the house buying chain is often unfairly attributed to estate agents and solicitors, as well as other professionals such as surveyors and finance providers. House buying can be a complicated business, and with large amounts of money at stake it is essential that searches, surveys and legal documents are drawn up accurately. Unfortunately, house buyers sometimes overlook these factors in the push to exchange contracts.

The covid pandemic has brought levels of stress and uncertainty which have not been seen in the housing market for a very long time. Sale properties have generally been in short supply and the best of them have been quickly snapped up. Added to this the Stamp Duty holiday has thrown in a financial incentive which is not normally part of the equation.

The prospect of saving up to £15,000 in Stamp Duty on a house costing £500,000 has caused normally-rational buyers to act in desperation to push their purchase through before the deadline. Similarly, property sellers have realised that as the cut-off date looms they can demand higher prices or accept another offer in spite of a sale being already agreed.

In such a pressurised market it is now buyers and sellers who bear much of the responsibility for delays and collapsing deals. A property may already be “under offer” or “sold subject to contract”, but under our current system a new buyer can still come along and offer a higher price or a cash deal. Many purchasers are doing just that, particularly if they have already lost out on other properties after being outbid. Who can blame sellers for taking up these increased offers, especially if they too have had to stretch themselves financially to buy their next home?

Research carried out by Thomas Sanderson Interiors, the home furnishings company, reveals that 59% of people admit to lying while selling a home and 46% say they have lied when trying to buy. Lies by sellers mainly concern failing to reveal faults in the property, neighbour disputes, or issues arising from the local area.  Lies regarding finance were the most likely to be put forward by buyers, often about monthly outgoings and debt when trying to secure a mortgage. Some potential buyers claim to be cash buyers or to have mortgage funds available in order to secure a property, when it turns out that they have lied or have had their mortgage application turned down.

According to the  Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, a seller is in breach of the law if they fail to inform a potential buyer of material information which could influence their decision to buy the property. This includes the condition of the property, problems with neighbours, and correct approvals for building works, as well as factors concerning the local area such as notices of any planned developments nearby. Claims for compensation can still be made even after the property has changed hands.

Fifteen thousand pounds saved in stamp duty is a considerable sum for most UK households, as it could mean the difference between getting a new kitchen installed or a new car in the garage. But is the cost saving really worth the stress and anxiety caused by trying to push the sale through? Have you, as the purchaser, researched the market thoroughly and decided that this is absolutely the dream house you always wanted? Has the psychological effect of living cooped up at home under lockdown conditions caused you to adopt a “move house at all costs” attitude? Or have you, in desperation or FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in today’s-speak, simply been carried along by the house-buying hysteria?

Covid and repeated lockdown regulations have brought unprecedented changes to society over the last fifteen months, and few people would have foreseen the frenzied conditions in the property market. Property website Zoopla predicts that sales this year will be 45% above 2020 levels, even though there are currently 20% fewer properties on the market than there were twelve months ago. Sadly many people will lose out with time running out until the stamp duty deadline, and property analysts TwentyCi estimates that over 350,000 transactions, or 56% of the total in progress, will miss the cut-off date. However, as well as death and taxes some things are certain – people in the future will still need to buy and sell their property, regardless of Covid, lockdowns or stamp duty holidays.

Bretherton Law have been serving the people of Hertfordshire for over 50 years. Our team of experienced Property Lawyers will ensure that whether you are buying or selling, the conveyancing process will run smoothly and professionally. We endeavour to provide a same day response where possible, as well as fixed fee quotes. Bretherton Law are accredited under the Lexcel legal practice and the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Schemes. Contact Osman Dervish on 01727 869293 or use the contact form below.