Buying property can often feel like you’re taking one step forward and then two steps back.

Hurdles turn up when you least expect them, but a little preparation can go a long way. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to overcoming common setbacks encountered on the home-buying journey. We’ll also help you put together a savvy buying strategy that’ll put you back in the driver’s seat.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Common setbacks in home buying

Navigating through the property market, especially in a bustling and competitive environment like London, can present a myriad of challenges for prospective homebuyers. 

Understanding these common setbacks is the first step towards developing a robust and adaptive home-buying strategy. Let’s delve into some of the prevalent issues faced by homebuyers in and around London.


Financial challenges

  • Unexpected costs: The journey from property interest to ownership is often dotted with unforeseen expenses. These can range from additional survey costs and legal fees to adjustments needed post-property survey. It's crucial to have a financial buffer to get through these unexpected expenditures without derailing your purchase.
  • Mortgage approval issues: Securing a mortgage can be a complex process, with lenders scrutinising your financial health, credit history, and the property’s value. A minor oversight or an unexpected change in circumstances, like a shift in employment status, can lead to mortgage approval challenges.


Property valuation discrepancies


A common setback arises when there’s a significant discrepancy between the offered price and the property’s valuation. Lenders may be reluctant to approve a mortgage for a property valued lower than the purchase price, necessitating either a renegotiation with the seller or additional financial input from the buyer.


Legal and regulatory hurdles


Working through the legalities of home buying can be a daunting task. Issues such as disputes over property boundaries, unresolved planning permissions, or complexities in leasehold agreements can stall the buying process, requiring additional time and resources to resolve.


Property condition and survey issues


A detailed property survey may unveil issues like structural defects, damp, or necessary repair works. These findings can be a setback, prompting further negotiations or even leading buyers to reconsider the purchase.


Bidding wars and lost bids


In a competitive market like London, bidding wars are commonplace. Losing a bid, especially on a property you had set your heart on, can be disheartening and disrupt your home-buying dreams. It’s essential to remain resilient and continue the search, keeping in mind that the right property will align with your strategy and financial plan.

Adapting your strategy: practical steps

Embarking on a home-buying journey, especially in the vibrant yet challenging London market, necessitates a strategy that is not only well-planned but also adaptable to the many potential setbacks. 

Here, we explore practical steps to ensure your home-buying strategy remains resilient and effective, even when confronted with unexpected hurdles.


Reassessing your budget

  • Considering additional costs: Always allocate a portion of your budget to cater to unforeseen expenses, such as additional legal fees, survey costs, or immediate repairs and modifications to the new property. A financial buffer ensures that unexpected costs do not derail your purchase or strain your finances.
  • Re-evaluating mortgage options: If initial mortgage applications are unsuccessful or less favourable than anticipated, consider exploring alternative lenders or reassessing your mortgage type and terms. Speaking with a mortgage advisor can provide insights into options that may align better with your financial standing and property aspirations.


Expanding your property search

  • Exploring different locations: While certain areas of London may be your initial preference, expanding your search to alternative locations might unveil hidden gems and potentially more affordable options without compromising on amenities and lifestyle.
  • Considering different property types: Be open to exploring various property types, such as considering a flat instead of a house or vice versa. Different property styles might offer unique advantages and sit well with your living requirements and investment goals.


Utilising professional assistance

  • Hiring an estate agent:Working with a seasoned estate agent, especially one with expertise in the London market, such as Petty Son and Prestwich, can provide valuable insights, access to a wider range of properties, and assistance in working through the complexities of buying a home.
  • Consulting a financial advisor: A financial advisor can guide you through budget management, mortgage applications, and help devise strategies to navigate through any financial setbacks encountered during the buying process. Here at Petty’s, we always recommend David Cade of Clarity Financial Management, but feel free to do your own homework before committing.


Legal preparedness

  • Understanding property laws: Equip yourself with a basic understanding of UK property laws and regulations to pave the way to a smoother transaction and safeguard against legal complications.
  • Ensuring legal documentation is in order:Employ a solicitor early in the process to manage legal documentation, conduct necessary searches, and handle the conveyancing process, ensuring that all legal aspects of the purchase are meticulously handled.


Moving forward: developing a resilient buying approach

The path to homeownership, particularly in the dynamic London market, is seldom without challenges. 

Developing a resilient buying approach not only helps get you through potential setbacks but also empowers you to make informed and strategic decisions throughout your home-buying journey. 

Here are key aspects to consider in cultivating a robust and forward-looking approach.


Embracing flexibility in decision-making

  • Adaptability to change: The ability to pivot your strategy in response to unexpected challenges or new opportunities is crucial. Whether it’s adjusting your budget, exploring new locations, or considering different property types, maintaining a flexible approach ensures you can navigate through the ebbs and flows of the property market effectively.
  • Balancing emotions and logic: While emotional investment in a property is natural, ensure that it is balanced with logical and strategic decision-making. This involves objectively assessing each property and situation, preventing emotional biases from overshadowing rational judgement.


Continuous learning and staying updated with the market

  • Market trends and analysis: Keep abreast of the latest trends, property values, and developments within the London property market. Making use of online resources, attending webinars, and subscribing to property newsletters can provide valuable insights and keep you informed of market dynamics.
  • Leveraging technology: Sign up for property apps and online platforms to streamline your property search, compare market prices, and explore virtual tours, will ensure your property search is efficient and comprehensive.


Building a support network of professionals

  • Engaging with experts: Building relationships with professionals such as estate agents, solicitors, and financial advisors creates a reliable network to help you push through various aspects of the home-buying process.
  • Participating in forums and communities: Joining local forums and communities provides a platform to interact with fellow homebuyers, share experiences, and gain insights into the local property scene, enhancing your knowledge and support system.


Developing a resilient buying approach allows you to work through the complexities of the property market with confidence and adaptability, ensuring that your path to homeownership in London is strategic, informed, and robust.

Regardless of where you are in the home-buying process, you’ll need the right people by your side. 

We hav been helping buyers just like you find their next home for well over a century, and we’d love to assist you as well. Speak to a member of our friendly team today to find out how we can help you make your property dreams come true.

Article By: Jenny Wagstaff

As a Director of Petty’s, there isn’t much Jenny doesn’t do: Lettings management, HR duties, general business admin...the list goes on! When she isn’t handling the day-to-day stuff, you’ll find her in the theatre or enjoying afternoon tea somewhere swanky.

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