James Coney  

It pays to use a market specialist

James Coney

James Coney

Last week, I put our house on the market.

That is right, as the world slowly emerges from the chaos of lockdown, I am trying to sell one property and buy another one.

Only time will tell whether I am a genius or a total idiot. Of course, it may never happen. (Though realistically, I can not see Mrs C backing down now. She is at Defcon four in her state of preparedness).

I have form on this issue: we put the offer in for this house in December 2008, just as the world was reeling from the financial crisis and it looked as though the lending markets would freeze up forever.

I had only just got our money back from the Icesave collapse, having faced the daunting prospect that the £25,000 deposit we had saved up for six years was suddenly gone.

That felt like a hairy time to move. I used London & Country then to sort out our mortgage, and would use them again at the drop at the hat because of the way they helped us chase mortgages as the market moved quickly.

You can go round and round in circles for hours debating the pros and cons of self-investing against using a financial planner or adviser, but I feel the argument is much more clear cut when it comes to mortgage brokers, and, for that matter, estate agents.

Let us start with the latter. We live in a four-bed house with a good size garden close to the Northern Line in south-west London – I will let you imagine what we are selling it for. 

So the question comes over whether to pay an estate agent with fees of between 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent or Purplebricks at £1,499. That is quite some difference in charges.

I think our house is in good nick and it is in a good location. Finding buyers should be no problem.

But that is my gut talking. My brain tells me that this market is in flux, and anything may happen.

I also know that Purplebricks is as coy with its figures on how many sales fall through as, well, I am with the sale price of my home.

When things freeze up, you need a specialist to push things along. It feels like a gamble, but one worth taking.

And so it goes for mortgage brokers. My preference is for fee-free ones, but having a good experience previously counts for far more, as do recommendations.

Plus in this mortgage market, having someone to nudge along the deals, work out the wrinkles of finances, and, crucially, figure out what you can borrow sensibly is essential.

And that is more so the case when things are complicated; for example, my wife has two regular jobs (sometimes three) – one employed and the others self-employed. I also have a reasonable amount of self-employed work.