House Prices: How long is a piece of string?

One of the questions that I am frequently asked is how much prices have gone up or gone down in the last couple of years. My trite response is “how long is a piece of string?”. Each property needs to be dealt with on its own merits and that’s where getting proper advice comes in.

To give you a couple of examples, I was recently involved in a transaction in St Andrews where the property was on at offers over £275,000 and valued at £295,000, at the closing date it went for in excess of £355,000. Conversely, I was recently involved in negotiations for a property over on the West Coast of Scotland where we managed to get the property not only considerably less than the asking price but also the valuation. These two extreme examples show the importance of getting proper advice from an experienced property solicitor.

My first port of call is always to note interest and it is amazing how much information can be teased out of a selling agent at that stage – the property has been empty for a long time, the seller is desperate, the seller has found somewhere else to go – all actual examples of information that has been passed. I would thereafter carry out an investigation into the area including recent transactions and that coupled with my own knowledge and experience, as far as negotiations are concerned, would then lead me to put together a proposal for my client.

In a non-competitive situation I can never guarantee success but my aim is always to smoke out the lowest possible price that the seller would be prepared to accept.

In conclusion, there is no formula as far as house prices are concerned but it is very important to get advice at the earliest opportunity. My recommendation would be that before you start looking you take advice as the adviser will be able to give you a rough generalisation in respect of your type of property and area and give you an indication of what sort of price range you should be looking at.

To quote an old Law Society campaign, “It’s never too early to call your solicitor”.

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