Property expert Curtis Chisholm outlines pitfalls for buyers and sellers
Some cynics claim that the one thing that’s certain about the housing market is its uncertainty. They may be right.
Curtis Chisholm, a director of the Cochran Dickie Estate Agency, based at Bridge of Weir, reckons the days when bricks and mortar were a surefire investment, guaranteed to rise in value, are gone.
He said: “We are still feeling the aftershock of the financial crisis that began in 2008 and this will continue to have an effect on lending patterns for a long time to come. We are also about to experience major changes to stamp duty arrangements that will have a significant effect on buyers at the upper end of the market.”
But Curtis maintains that there is one abiding factor that remains vital as far as estate agents are concerned and that is familiarity with the value of property in their own patch. Curtis, whose firm operates across Inverclyde, West Renfrewshire and the West End of Glasgow, said: “You have to have a feel for valuations, largely based on previous comparable sales in the area and the state of the market at the time of buying. We rely on local knowledge and experience and that personal touch which means so much to clients.”
“There are occasions when we advise a client not to put their home on the market at a given time and wait until demand for their type of property is set to pick up.” Curtis added: “There are additional financial pressures on buyers and sellers now. Lenders have tightened up their criteria and buyers are likely to have to find a much bigger deposit these days.”
The Land and Building Transaction Tax is set to come into effect in April next year, bringing sweeping changes to stamp duty at the upper end of the market. There will be little effect on properties up to the value of around £325,000 – but above that, buyers will have to find thousands of pounds more than they would expect to pay at the moment. This is cash that can’t be borrowed by means of a mortgage and this is likely to affect the size of properties people are able to buy.
The advent of the bigger, corporate estate agencies has also had an effect on the market, with some companies owning the surveyor firms that carry out valuations. Curtis and his colleagues prefer to keep that relationship at arm’s length. He said: “As professional estate agents, we value properties based on our own knowledge and understanding of the local market – and as an independent firm, rely on independent surveyors to come up with their own professional assessment for lenders. It is important to avoid over-valuing a home – because it could just sit on the market for ages, of no benefit to anyone.
When the time comes to sell everyone wants to sell their house for the highest value possible, but obtaining a realistic valuation is more important than obtaining the highest valuation.