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We Take Too Many Risks Buying UK Property

Mar 14, 2008
As a nation we are taking far too many risks when buying a home.

One in four people don't do any kind of UK property searches or other research, according to a new survey. Instead they view a house for sale, get excited about it, and then make an offer straight away.

90 per cent of home owners agree that buying property is the biggest purchase in their life. 71% admit not even checking how much it last sold for. This is perhaps good news for those selling property, as it means buyers are risking overpaying thousands of pounds for their new home.

The stakes are high. With the average UK home valued at 228,649, even if you overpay by 5% you are risking handing over 11,000 more than you need to! With the current condition of UK property, it is a buyer's market and you should be able to drive prices down.

The research was done with 1,000 home owners by a new website called Zoopla. It is the first online community for UK property. It combines clever tools that you can use to value your home with archive information on how much houses sold for. Its big idea is to bring transparency to the property market - you can also ask questions about specific properties and leave comments.

Strangely, the survey discovered that more people price check smaller purchases such as blenders, toasters and new cars than they do property! 92% admitted at least checking the price of a new gadget using a price comparison website. 85% do the same with cars and 78% do with furniture. Yet only 42% admit doing price checks on UK property.

It seems the problem is knowing that this information is freely available. After all, just a few years ago, the only way to get reliable information on UK property online was to pay for it. More than half of those surveyed said they don't use the internet to check property prices. 40% didn't even know that you could find out the price history of your home, plus of course what your friends and neighbors paid for theirs.

This loose attitude to research isn't just restricted to the property itself. One in three people admitted not even doing research on the local area before they moved in. Only 10% said they had asked a neighbor what the area and community was like before making a purchase.

You can imagine some of those had a bit of a shock if their street had turned out to contain a nightclub! In fact, that kind of shock is real in the UK property market. A huge 41 per cent said their honeymoon in a new house only lasted a week, and what did they blame? Lack of research!

The top areas that homeowners regretted not doing their homework on was parking. Makes sense - if you only see a property once or twice before buying it, you might not know there is a parking problem during the school run.

Other regrets included the neighbors, traffic congestion, the true value of their home, and local amenities.

Finally, a large proportion of people in the survey admitted they are relying on UK property for their pension. For 63 per cent, the value released from their house is what they will live off in old age. Yet less than one in ten actually knew how much their property was currently worth.

Half couldn't be bothered to monitor the value of their home. They do admit to tracking savings accounts and share portfolios.

All in, we come across as a deeply unsophisticated nation when it comes to researching property purchases.
About the Author
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