5 tips for house-hunting in a hectic market

Amy Hamilton-Chadwick
5 tips for house-hunting in a hectic market
Property finders have strategies that you can use to help you find real estate.

The housing market is running red-hot right now and listings are scarce almost everywhere in New Zealand.

With so few properties available and a frenzy of enthusiastic buyers, it can be extremely tough to find a house that’s within your budget.  

But professional property finders have strategies that you can use to help you find properties that other buyers have overlooked.

You just need to be willing to work a little harder, be open-minded and not follow the herd, says Mark Honeybone, director of Property Ventures, who started his career in property as a full-time finder.

He has five tips for homeowners feeling frustrated with the current lack of listings: 

 

1. Look at old listings  

A house that’s been on the market for six months in a market this hot? There’s definitely something wrong with it.

But it might be something you could fix. Or maybe the vendor is finally ready to consider a more reasonable price.

And other buyers will be put off by the length of time the house has been for sale.  

 “I once bought a property in Kaikoura that had been on the market for about 18 months,” says Honeybone.

“The vendor eventually got fed up and just wanted to get rid of it, so I got a bargain.”  

Old house

Would you be willing to go for a less desirable old house that's been on the market for a long time?

 

2. Hunt for private sales 

“Vendors who are too tight to pay agents’ fees often don’t like working with purchasers and don’t like too many people looking through the house,” says Honeybone.

“That’s to your advantage because fewer people have seen the house.” 

Because they’re not in touch with the market, these vendors may also have surprising price expectations – which can go in either direction.

But it’s possible to get a great deal when a private seller just wants the quickest, easiest exit clause on offer.  

You won’t find private sales listed on some property websites, so make sure you’re including a site like TradeMe Property in your searches, which allows private vendors to list their houses.  

 

3. Find the properties nobody else wants 

First-home buyers tend to want the same houses: clean, tidy and liveable, ideally on a smallish section with a freehold title.

If you’re tired of missing out on those houses, it might be time to consider the homes far fewer people are interested in: poorly-presented, cluttered, weirdly configured, badly run-down, on a cross-lease.

These properties can have amazing potential for improvement if you have the imagination to see it.   

“There’s not that many buyers looking at those properties – so figure out what everyone’s buying in your market, and look at everything else.”  

Photo of woman renovating

If you find a house that's slightly run down, you can always do a bit of renovation

 

4. Ask about houses that aren’t for sale 

Door-knocking or mailbox dropping is an old-fashioned way of finding out whether that house you like might come on the market.  But it still works.

Honeybone says he knows plenty of people who have bought homes and investment properties by putting a note in the letterbox: “It’s still a good way to find a house.”  

 

5. Make sure agents remember you 

Foster strong relationships with the best agents in your area (those who don’t sell mainly by auction) and speak to them regularly about what’s on the market.

This keeps you in touch with prices, and it means you’re top of mind when they hear about a brand-new listing.  

“Be persistent – talk to agents about what you want and then call them every few weeks. When we find an opportunity, we remember you and we’ll call you.”   

You can get a good deal in any market 

Photo of real estate agent

Make sure to keep in touch with real estate agents.

You should know your local market, understand current values and have an idea of what renovations might cost. That research, plus having your finance lined up, means you can be ready to move fast when you find the property you want.  

“The market is really hectic right now which does make it tough,” Honeybone says.

“But I’ve done all these things and they do work. If you put in more effort and do more research than other buyers, I think you can get a good deal in any market.”  

 

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