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Market signals prime time for property hunters

While seasoned investors were quick off the mark to snap up prime property at bargain prices as the market showed the first signs of bottoming out earlier in the year, less experienced cash-rich buyers are now looking to act quickly amid signs of sustained price growth.

Tenants have also benefited from price falls in the rental market. Many are now hoping to trade up to better homes in more desirable locations and tie into a year-long contract before prices rise out of their reach.

Email4property.co.uk said it had seen a 20% increase in the use of its "Premier Property" search option since August this year.

It has some essential tips for those looking to capitalise on current market conditions and enter the prime market:

How much is a prime postcode worth to you?
Even if you can afford to buy or rent in a more upmarket location, it might not always be worth your while doing so. If you are stretching yourself financially to secure a particular street or district, you may not achieve the prestigious lifestyle you had hoped for. Consider how important the locality is to your living needs and whether you might be better off seeking more for your money elsewhere. A studio flat in Chelsea is still a studio flat, regardless of its postcode!

Premier property needs a premier agent
Different agents cover different sectors of the market. Those that focus on prime markets and list higher-end property will also be best placed to advise you. Not only will they have access to the best range of homes in your area, but they will also have the experience and expertise to be candid with you on your expectations and restrictions.

Make sure you are precise and accessible
Be upfront with your agent on exactly what it is you are looking for and how much you are willing to pay. Having opted to go for a prime property you may be unwilling to compromise, particularly if you are buying, but the agent will be able to advise on whether your criteria is realistic. Be as forthright as possible with them about the property you want to view, so that no time is wasted in your search. Rest assured you will not be the only person in your area on the look-out for a prime bargain, so ensure you are also readily available to receive updates from your agent.

Don’t neglect the home-searching basics
While the location and/or style of the property may be sufficient enough for you to make a decision, you should not neglect the standard home searching procedures. Judge the property on all the merits you would in normal circumstances – such as the local amenities, transport links, schools etc. Depending on how long-term the move is, consider how the home will suit your changing needs over time. And of course, do not neglect any assessment of the general state of repair! A bargain priced conversion property in a dream location is likely to need as much work as any other – it could soon lose its bargain status if significant work needs to be done to make it liveable for the long-term.

Steven Lees, Head of Marketing for email4property.co.uk, said: "Those lucky enough to have had sufficient capital to secure a mortgage over the past two years have been in a strong position to capitalise on the low prices available across the market, and many have been able to secure homes that would previously been out of their reach.

"With strong signs of firming house prices and rents starting to improve across the sector, people are now realising that the prime market may not remain open to them for much longer. However, there are still options available and plenty of specialist agents across the country who are well-equipped to advise buyers/renters on their options and help them source the best properties available."

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