Martin Roberts discusses getting on the property ladder
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Finding the perfect home is an exhilarating feeling. Everything seems picture perfect, from brilliant finishes to modern installations, clean carpets to well-sized rooms. But new research by MoveStreets has found that an incredible 71 percent of buyers encounter “catfish properties” – finding that the home they viewed was not like the one they had seen advertised online or in an estate agent.
When a dream property fails to live up to our expectations, it can be a particularly sore moment.
Some travel long distances in the hope of viewing the house they saw online – only to be greeted with something that does not match what they were hoping for.
Wide discrepancies between advertising and reality in the world of home buying and selling are so ubiquitous that they’ve become normalised for sellers and expected by buyers.
“Catfish properties” are a common phenomenon, but with a bit of know-how and experience, you can stop yourself from having your dreams dashed when it comes to viewing.
CEO and Co-Founder of MoveStreets, Adam Kamani, told Express.co.uk: “House hunting can be as stressful as it is exciting and it can take a considerable amount of time and effort to find your ideal home.
“So it’s understandably disappointing when you turn up to a home that could be ideal but turns out to be far from what was advertised online.
“It’s important to remember that an estate agent is paid to sell and any worthwhile agent will invest in making sure the property photos are top-notch and the description does a great job of selling both a property and the wider area – even if they do have to exaggerate the truth a little.
“The best way to avoid disappointment is to check out the floor plan first and foremost.
“This will give you an accurate picture of the true layout and size of a home, but all too often we overlook this when surfing online property listings.
“Utilising other resources on a local area can also help you build a better, slightly less biased opinion to the one portrayed on a property listing and, if possible, go and get a feel for a certain area yourself as there’s no substitute for personal experience.”
Check for distorted photos
Distorted photos are a key way sellers can make their property look more attractive – from making rooms look bigger to removing unsightly items.
Some can even go as far as photoshopping in furniture – to check for this, look to see if shadows accurately match up. If they don’t the furniture likely isn’t real.
The best way to check for distorted images is to request high-resolution images from the agent, then pour over them closely.
Does the sky look uneven? This could mean power lines have been removed or the background has been changed.
Do the walls look unusually clean? They could have been brightened or the colour could have been changed completely in post-production.
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Check the floorplan
An accurate floor plan will give you the best idea of the size you’re looking for.
The research conducted by MoveStreets found the biggest gripe was that the property itself was far smaller in real life versus how it appeared in the photos used on its online listing.
This is compounded by wide-angle lenses used in photography – while this is common practice that gives the buyer an idea of the room as a whole, don’t base your judgement on the size of a room off pictures alone.
Do your research on the area
How much do other properties in the area of your dream home go for? Have you verified that the property is actually where it says it is? If it says it’s not far from a bustling hight street, just how far away is said high street?
Asking yourself, and your estate agent, the right questions will help you sus out if the property in question is really all it’s cracked up to be.
An estate agents job is to maximise profit on behalf of the buyer, so if you’re doubting what your agent is telling you, get a second opinion.
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