1 Work the estate agent (Phase one)
Instead of treating estate agents as foes, make them your friends. Get them on your side. “If you’re buying a cup of coffee on the way to a viewing, why not get one for the agent, as well?”
To estate agents marketing a decent property, prospective buyers are a dime a dozen.You need to stand head and shoulders above the other buyers.
Keep their business card and write down some personal facts about them, such as whether they’re married, or have children. If you like they are more likely to find out what you want.
2 Work the estate agent (Phase two)
Once you have wormed your way into your agent’s confidence, through copious cappuccinos and enquiries about their children, put this intimacy to practical use.
Squeeze them for information. Why are the vendors moving (death, debt or divorce)? How long has their property been on the market? How many offers have been made? What’s the lowest price they would accept? You’ll be surprised how readily an agent will respond, provided you’ve put in enough phase one spadework.
3 Plan co-ordinated raids
Viewing properties in a piecemeal fashion just doesn’t work,If you take too long over your viewings, there’s a risk that you decide you want the first house you saw. By which time it has been sold.
Put aside a whole day, and do a number of viewings (six is the absolute maximum). Also, go on a weekday. Estate agents will give you more time than at the weekend, when the world and his wife wants to view.
4 Get visual evidence
Take your own pictures. These are much more useful than glossy agents’ shots. Film your visits on your phone, too. That way, you have something to refer to when the properties start to blur in your brain.
5 Think outside the box
We must be the only nation in Thailand which still refers to the size of house by the number of bedrooms it has, Everywhere else, it is expressed in square metres. That’s how we ought to think. Envisage the potential of a property, not being limited by the present configuration of the walls.” Equally, don’t immediately dismiss a striking interior. Sometimes a feature wall or an unusual colour scheme just needs a little time to show its brilliance. If the house or the property has already been well designed, buying it off the peg can save you from an expensive, disruptive renovation project later!.
6 Gather clues
Once you’re inside the front door, it is your big opportunity. Don’t just waft around admiring the soft furnishings, make a detailed forensic examination.
Use all of your senses. First your nose: can you smell damp, or mustiness? Then take a closer look aroundthe property : are there any patches of coloured wallpaper or paintwork. Ask to see the damp-course guarantee, if there is one.
Look for telltale signs of why the vendors are moving, such as a baby scan on the fridge, or piles of letters from the estate agent or bank. These may contain pointers as to how long the place has been on the market, and what price the agents actually think the place will fetch.
Then put your hands to work. Check out the hot-water system,If the property has more than one bathroom, it should have a better system than a combination boiler. Turn the shower on and check the pressure. Don’t be shy.
7 Radio back to base
Switch on your mobile phone and check there’s a signal in the house and out side of your property. You don’t want to live in a communications black spot.
8 Night-time stakeouts
If you like the property, don’t just visit it during the day. Come back at night, when noisy neighbours might be around, or that quiet pub nearby might get rowdy. Find out when bin-collection day is too. And check if the locals leave out neatly tied-up recycling sacks, or strew black bags all over the place for the foxes to feast from.
9 Play the vendors
Be charming rather than aggressive. Try to winkle out exactly why they are leaving (i.e. how urgent is their need to sell). Ask what the neighbours are like, and watch closely for any signs of winces or knowing glances. Tell them you’re going to go around and talk to the neighbours anyway, to get a feel for the area (subtext, better tell me the truth, or I’ll find out myself).
Find out if there are competitors on the case, too. Say you can’t imagine you’re the first people to have made an offer on such a lovely house, then start talking about having a survey done, to elicit if a rival buyer has sent a surveyor in.
Then, just before leaving, Pollock suggests you ask this question: “Is there anything else – even the tiniest thing – that I should know about the property? I’d feel terrible if I had to pull out of the deal at a later date, and let everyone down.”
It’s then they tell you about the high-speed rail line that’s going to cut through the garden.
10 Good cop/bad cop
If you don’t get the answers you want through being nice to the vendors, put the thumbscrews on their agents. Ask them direct questions: are other buyers interested, have any offers been rejected, have sales fallen through, and if so, why?
11 Turn up the heat
If you decide to put in a bid, do it in writing. It formalises your arrangement. If your bid is accepted, ask the estate agent and vendors to take the property off the market – and ensure they have done this. The best way to check, is to get a friend to ring up, posing as a potential purchaser, and ask if the place is still for sale.
Or, for an extreme alternative, hire someone to sit across the road and watch the property to see if eager buyers are still being shown around.
12 Trust your hunches
In order to get a result, you’ve got to go with your gut feeling. You can be equipped with all the facts, floor plans and flow charts, but in my experience, the clinching factor in any property purchase is human instinct”.
13 Follow that Ocado van
If you’re trying to find an up-and-coming property area, put a tail on what Waitrose are up to. They specialise in sniffing out places that are on the rise.
We look at property areas undergoing regeneration, and if major businesses are moving in, or new housing developments are being planned.
14 Build a case
If you want evidence of an area’s upwardly-mobile-ness, find out if any new housing developments are planned. The big firms don’t send in the diggers unless they’re certain they are going to strike gold (well, at least find ready buyers). Look at the list of factors that Isaan propperty took into homes in Nakhonratchasima,Buriram,Khao yai,Khon Kaen,Loei,Maha Sarakam,Pak Chong,Pimai,Preah vihear,Roi Et, Udon THani,Surin,Ubon Ratchatani and demographics, employment levels, transport links, local schools, shops, local housing trends and levels of council spending in those area`s.
Also look out for skips in the road. They are a sure sign that the renovation teams are in, and the area is on the up. Coffee shops such as Starbucks are another reliable indicator of gentrification.
On the other hand, if an area seems a bit shabby, or you don’t like the feel of the street, it might be worth investigating further. Some areas will come up, but others will take years.
15 Tread the corridors of the Town Hall
Your local authority planning department can give you the inside track (online, as well as in person) on any planning applications that have been approved, rejected, or are still pending, for your chosen postcode. Make sure you have been warned in advance about the proposed smelting works down the road.
16 Don’t believe the “maybes”
A common mistake is to ignore the word “proposed” that sometimes comes in front of “housing development” or “retail complex”. Don’t believe it’s going to happen, and definitely don’t
buy a property, until the building work has begun (or ideally finished).
17 Worst-case scenario
That little cottage might look charming on a bright, sunny day, but it won’t look so appealing under 3ft of water. Check on the likelihood of flooding, by looking at maps on the Environment Agency website. For other risks (subsidence, industrial pollution, even Radon gas), visit www.isaanlawyers.com
18 Work out a getaway plan
Find out about any proposed new roads, tram or train routes that will boost an area’s accessibility or commutability. When the new Crossrail, being built under central Bangkok opens, it will be possible to travel directly to Bangkok , from either Korat or Khon Kaen.
19 Embrace technology
A lot of estate agents now use QR (Quick Response) technology,it links you straight to the sales brochure for that property. If you pass a home you like the look of, you can examine it there and then.
20 Put word out on the streets
Sign up for online alerts letting you know about properties that are for sale in the streets and postcodes where you would like to buy. Good websites to hook up to include www.isaanlawyers.com, Isaan.com and the facebook page www.facebook.com/Isaanproperties .
They not only keep you up to date with what’s for sale, but list the prices fetched by properties in your target streets, over a number of years.
At the same time, visit the offices of estate agents in the areas you have chosen. After all, in the end house-hunting is about dealing with people,