April 02 2017 0comment

What a year of trying to buy a flat in Manchester city centre taught me

Brin Glesson ended up putting an offer in on a flat he hadn’t even seen, after a number of apartments were snapped up before he could view them

After a year of struggling to buy a flat in Manchester City Centre , Brin Glesson desperately made an offer on a property he hadn’t even seen.

The 28-year-old says dozens of viewings he had organised were cancelled when flats were snapped up before his appointment.

Since beginning his property search in January 2016 he viewed 13 flats; nine of these were snapped up before he could make an offer and three offers he did make were rejected in favour of higher ones or cash buyers.

Finally in December he heard about a two-bed flat in the Citygate development was coming on the market and having seen a friend’s home there he immediately offered the asking price £199,950.

His offer was successful and thankfully he and girlfriend Ella Cramer loved the flat when they did get to look around. They moved in last month, happy to put their property hunting nightmare behind them.

Brin is just one of many struggling to buy in Manchester’s property rush, which has seen flats selling in an average of nine days this year – three weeks faster than 2016.

He said: “It was about January that I decided to look for a place but it is really tough to view properties around a working day and a lot of estate agents aren’t even open at the weekend or don’t do them past half six. That is a real issue.

“We had put interest in for around ten properties and still couldn’t even get a viewing, it began to get really stressful, so we left it for a couple of months.”

Brin, a recruitment consultant, managed to put in offers on apartments at the Point, New Islington, the Albion Works, Ancoats and the Sorting Office, Green Quarter, but he was outbid or beaten by a cash buyer.

“We managed to put several bids in, only to see us outbid by cash buyers. There are a lot of investors coming in and buying them, you just can’t compete with that because for the vendor it’s great,” Brin said.

These were just the lucky ones where he was able to put a bid in – there were many more where he didn’t even manage to make it through the door, including properties in Tuscany House, Quantum, Mercury Building and Granby Row – to name just a few.

After almost ten months of searching and making no progress, Brin decided that the only way to stand a chance of even getting a viewing, was to go in blind and make an offer, without seeing the flat first.

He said: “The only reason I think, that I got my bid accepted for this flat is because of the way I went about it. If I let it get viewed by someone else then it definitely would have gone.

“You have nothing to lose really, you aren’t tied to anything and the vendor has to consider it. I don’t know how PC or ethical it is perhaps but if I hadn’t I would probably still be renting.”

And estate agents are all too aware of the extremes that some people will go to in order to get the flat they want.

High levels of demand however mean that prices are rising all the time, with bidders having to pay over and above the odds to secure a property.

The average flat price has risen by £2,000 since 2016 – to £198,947 – according to Zoopla, and the city’s housing market is becoming increasingly tough for buyers and renters.

According to JLL buyers can currently expect to pay as much as £230,000 for a two-bedroom flat and predict prices to rise by another seven pc this year.

And it is a trend that shows no sign of slowing down, with city centre agents JLL also predicting prices to rocket by more than 29 pc in the next four years. And it’s not just in sales where prices are soaring, rents are increasing all the time.

JLL say property is selling 70 per cent faster than last year.

In a recent report the firm found that the average property was selling in just nine days – three weeks faster than last year.

Ged McPartlin, sales director of Ascend Properties, said: “The market in Manchester city centre is crazy right now and is super competitive.

“We listed 15 apartments for a client last week across two developments (Vimto Gardens and Smithfield Square) all of which sold within seven days

“We had an open house viewing on each development attracting 25 buyers to Vimto and 36 to Smithfield – 11 of the units sold on the day and the remaining 4 were sold within a week at an average of 10 per cent over the asking price, demonstrating how competitive the market is right now.”

“With the demand in the city centre outstripping supply, the competition is fierce and more vendors are beginning to recognise this.”

But not everyone can afford to keep up with the inflated prices, even in the rental market, some are now turning their back on the city.

Kaylee Lasseter recently moved out of the centre after a year and eight months because her flat in St David’s Court, on Sherborne Street near Strangeways, had increased in price from the £550 they had initially paid.

She said: “Our contract was coming to an end and we decided to look elsewhere as our rent was increased the last time we renewed and you weren’t really getting much for your money in the city centre at the time.

“A few weeks or so after telling the agency we would be leaving I saw it being advertised for almost £200 more than we were originally paying for it.”

Although some people are being forced to move further out, there are dozens more ready to pay the price to live in the centre.

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