It is no secret that West Sussex remains as one of the top areas on the market, as buyers seek out larger homes, more outdoor space for a lovely lifestyle. With limited good quality country homes for sale either on or off market, this strong demand has meant record prices are often being achieved, with little room for negotiation. For many sellers it has created a bit of a dilemma: Yes, they may have sold their house for a great price, but they can’t find somewhere else to purchase. As such, I am frequently seeing delayed completions at the moment.
The completion date is the day a buyer legally pays the remainder of the purchase price to the seller, which enables them to collect the keys and move in. This usually happens about 28 days after you have exchanged contracts and so a seller has to vacate their home within that time frame. With a delayed completion, this period can be extended – which can benefit both the buyer and the seller if managed properly.
These long stop completions are happening because sellers are feeling worried about how long it may take them to find another house. After all, they’re up against tough competition. Little properties are available; there’s anything upwards of at least five-seven serious buyers per house, and gazumping is rife. All too often I hear stories about people who have had their offer agreed, only to find out days later that the seller has cheekily accepted a higher price from somebody else, causing the whole chain to fall apart. Or that the competition is so fierce that people are throwing silly money at sellers in order to secure the sale, pushing others out of the equation immediately. Many of the prime country houses are selling off market as well, so not everybody is aware of them – not unless they’re using a buying agent. There’s also sentimental reasons for sellers feeling anxious, particularly with older one’s who are leaving behind a family home they have most likely lived in for a couple of decades if not more.
Therefore for sellers, having the time to find something else combined with the assurance that their home has already sold, puts them in good stead as a buyer – which is very appealing. So much so that often sellers will accept a lower price for their home if they can find a buyer willing to wait a bit until they complete (assuming the buyer demonstrates other good qualities as well, i.e. they have everything in place already to exchange quickly.)
For buyers, there are many benefits too. Firstly, it’s an effective negotiating tool for securing their dream country home for a lower price. It also allows time to seek planning permission, architects and builders for any alterations they plan to make. This is especially true now when Covid-19 has caused huge delays with planners, whilst builders are so busy with business there are long waiting times to book them in. For anybody moving from overseas, a delayed completion is ideal should they wish to secure the house via exchange and then wait until they are back in the UK to complete. Meanwhile a buyer has more time to secure the funds from the sale of their own home in order to complete the purchase. It can of course mean that a buyer has to move into rental accommodation temporarily should their purchaser wish to move in sooner, but I’m finding that if they have found the right house, many are prepared to do that. This is definitely a contributor to how hot the rental market is round here at the moment.
For example, a recent client of mine who exchanged this month in the Petworth area has agreed a completion date for early 2022 because the vendors wanted time to find something perfect to buy. By being flexible, this meant their lower offer was accepted when compared to other bidders.
For more information about buying and selling this way, contact Jennie Hancock on firstname.lastname@example.org.