Plain sailing through the property waters

Here Ian Gray, Head of Residential Property at Morton Fraser, gives his top tips for navigating the residential property market ...

Residential Property; what is it? Well quite simply put it's the properties that people reside in; hence the term 'residential property'.

This covers a wide spectrum of people, including: owner occupiers, landlords and tenants. Again each of these groups cover quite a spectrum; single individuals, couples at various stages in their relationships, various family scenarios, just good friends buying or renting together and business partners. With such a variation of circumstances, can the property market be approached in the same way?

Nobody, no matter how knowledgeable they are, can guarantee the state of the market but you do want the process to run as smoothly as possible. There are aspects of buying and selling residential property that you can control so everything goes as you anticipate.


My five simple tips for navigating the residential property market are as follows:

Understand what you are paying for

Fee quotes and Estimates. Whether it's from ESPC members, or other Estate Agents, quotes and estimates are all worded differently and include (as well as exclude) different items. A removals firm's quote can vary from firm to firm; one may cover differing things to the next, such as packing and insurance. Be really sure that you understand what's included and that you're comparing like for like!

Never assume

This really ties in with my first point and is an easy trap to fall into. 'I thought the agent would do this' or 'I thought the seller would provide that' and 'What do you mean there is an additional cost if I want you to…' Sadly we see and hear this all the time. Don't just assume, check!

Read the small print

This seems simple and we all ignore it (particularly when on-line) but make sure you are aware of little things in the terms of engagements or contracts that you are signing. For example some landlords are unaware that they have signed a contract with a Letting Agent that states that if they sell the property to the tenant the Letting Agent gets a commission.

Ask questions

If you have the slightest doubt about who does what, how a process works, what something means or how much its going to cost, please ASK!! Your ESPC Agent/Solicitor will be happy to clarify the situation. Many people I speak to say 'I was embarrassed or too scared to ask it seemed such a silly question'. In this environment we are the experts and it's our job to know the answers. There are no silly questions and I would urge you; if in doubt, ask!

Business is business

This is the culmination of the previous 4 points. No matter who you're dealing with; whether an ESPC member firm, a removal firm, building contractor, family friend or a relation, please remember that it is business. Formalise the process be, clear what you and they are agreeing to and formalise the deal. This will cover everyone's backs when things change; the point of contact you were dealing with may leave the company or there could be a change in personal circumstances. Formalise the agreement.

About the author

Ian Gray - Portrait 170With over 30 years of experience in the residential market, Ian Gray heads up Morton Fraser's Residential Property team. As a Chartered Surveyor with passion for property and a background in valuation and surveying he also has a true interest in people. He has accordingly developed a reputation for giving sensible and honest advice to ensure that clients achieve the best deal for them.