When the lockdown is over things will get busy, so make the most of this opportunity to get ahead, says Ruth Bloomfield
Whether your plan was to buy your first home or sell your old one, it will have been put on hold by the coronavirus, leaving you with the feeling that there’s nothing you can do except sit and wait.
However, if you’ve got unexpected time on your hands, you can take practical steps now that will save valuable time and effort when life returns to something closer to normality — and when your time is once again in short supply.
Here is our useful checklist:
TOP TIPS FOR BUYERS AND RENTERS
1. Go virtual
You may not be able to physically view homes, but an online search is valuable research.
PropertyPal is offering virtual viewings for buyers and renters, using either smartphone videos or 3D cameras to create fully navigable, high-definition, 360-degree walkthroughs.
Robin Chatwin, head of southwest London at Savills, says: “Some sellers are even filming things such as their daily run to give buyers a sense of the local area.
“Buyers get a good idea of a neighbourhood without stepping outside their front door.”
2. Learn to read a floorplan
It will save you time down the line because square footage written down doesn’t mean much to novice buyers.
Measure your living room or kitchen — then you will understand space better when you compare your home to a house you are viewing.
3. Prepare your mortgage paperwork
A mortgage candidate needs a passport, at least three months’ worth of bank statements and pay slips, their name on at least one utility bill at their current address and to be on the electoral register.
Get all of this ready now, says Shereen Malik-Akhtar, senior associate at Sotheby’s International Realty. “When the market begins to normalise, it will put you in a better position as a buyer.”
4. Check your credit rating
Check your credit rating online. If you have steered clear of all borrowing, you may find your score is low.
The solution, daft as it may seem, is to get a credit card, spend on it and then pay it off regularly, to show you are able to borrow and repay sensibly.
TOP TIPS FOR SELLERS
1. Finish any DIY jobs
Hardware shops are on the Government’s list of permitted retail outlets, so sort your house out.
Replace broken tiles, paint out the scuff marks, wash windows, paint over watermarks on ceilings, clean the carpets and fix or replace that leaking tap.
2. Sort out mess and add value
If you have a garden, make it look good. Wash down patios, fill planters, take away the rubbish, and mend and paint the fence.
Paul Cosgrove, a director at estate agent Finlay Brewer, says: “Light carpets and wood flooring are universally the most popular ways to impress buyers and add value. Most firms will send carpet and flooring samples out to you.”
Lino has also come a long way and is cheaper and very popular.
Box up or bin the contents of the loft, garage or garden shed. Go through all those boxes of old photographs and papers.
This stuff takes hours — and you do not normally have the time.
3. Offer video tours of your home
Become a video star. Many estate agents have responded to the lockdown by offering “vendor video tours”, where sellers produce walkthrough videos of their home, which can then be viewed by prospective buyers from within the safety of their own four walls.
These tours allow buyers and renters to ‘window shop’ while they’re stuck at home.
4. Tackle those exterior projects
First impressions count. Paint your front door. A tin of exterior eggshell equals instant kerb appeal, says Ben Ainsworth, regional director at Yopa.
He also suggests you clear gutters, clean windows, tidy the front driveway and get a binstore.
The colour of your house can have a real impact on its value, according to the HomeOwners Alliance.
It calculates that homes in tastefully painted streets may be worth 20% more than those with plain and boring exteriors.
Getting the exterior of a house painted costs between £450 and £1,500 depending on its size, location and whether you need scaffolding.
There is going to be a rush on painter-decorators when all this chaos is over, so while they may not be able to come to you right now, you can certainly get a quote and get the job booked in.