Homes in Wales bought before viewing in 'mad' housing market

By Will Fyfe
Wales Live

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image captionEstate agent Mel John said times were tough for first time buyers

House buyers are making offers on homes before viewing them in order to gain an edge in a "mad" housing market, estate agents and sellers have said.

Wales has seen the biggest house price growth in the UK, up by an average of 11% in the past year.

Many estate agents claim some properties sell within hours, sometimes with dozens of offers on the table.

But the rapid sales have also left some sellers stuck as they have not had enough time to find new homes.

Megan Davies, 32, a midwife and mother-of-two from Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf, is hoping to find a family home with her partner.

Last month demand for some properties in the town saw people queueing overnight outside an estate agents.

Ms Davies sold her house within hours of putting it on the market and her partner was made an offer on his property before any viewings. However the pair have now been unable to find anywhere to move on to.

"The properties that we've been to see, they're going for £20,000 to £30,000 over the asking price," Ms Davies told BBC Wales Live.

"There's so much competition out there at the moment and Aberdare is just mad, it's just gone mad.

"We've seen a house today that's gone live 15 minutes ago, we were told 'we've got no bookings left'.

"We've gone through agents, we've gone through social media, we've gone through the selling pages for houses, Rightmove etc.

media caption'Somebody just would always pip you to the post'

"I'm at the point now where I think, do we do flyers in the estates that we want to live on? That's the point we're at. There's nothing around. It really does take over your life."

Rhiannon Williams, 30, said she had given up trying to buy her first home near Caerphilly after struggling for months with high asking prices.

"The first house viewing looked amazing on the photos, but when I viewed I wasn't sold by the property. The estate agent said someone had put an offer in on the house and hadn't viewed it," she said.

"I thought that was absolutely insane as the asking price was already the top end for that area.

"I had two viewings booked for this week, both have been cancelled as they have now been sold.

"It's a huge step to purchase your first home, I think the prices are so high at the moment and people are offering over the asking price too, so I don't stand a chance to get on the ladder."

Mel John, an estate agent in Caerphilly, said she had been hearing more stories of practices like "gazumping" - where a seller goes back on a verbal agreement and accepts a higher offer.

"I've walked away from a number of properties where the sellers would have encouraged gazumping, as an estate agent I wouldn't want to be any part of that," she said. "I don't think it's ethical really for anybody to go down that route."

Ms John said the property market boom was great news for many, but she had sympathy for buyers who were frequently missing out.

"There's a lot of buyers out there," she said.

"When a property comes on the market we'll do a block booking of viewings on that property and whoever makes an offer, we'd be looking for their best and final offer.

"Of course it's not nice telling people that they can't buy the properties, that the seller has decided to go with someone else.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionMany people want to move to Wales from over the border, estate agents say

"It is really difficult and especially with young first-time buyers who can only afford a certain amount - which is more or less in the investors price range.

"They're desperate to get on the property ladder and they've got so much competition."

In north and west Wales the current housing market boom has re-energised debates around second homes.

However James Skudder, the director of Country Living Estate Agents in Pembrokeshire, said the landscape among his clients had significantly shifted from second-home buyers, with many now moving over the border to make Wales their permanent home.

"Since Covid has hit, the market hasn't stopped," said Mr Skudder.

"I would say on a daily basis 95% of the enquires are from people outside of the area.

"Pembrokeshire has always had a pull with second-home buyers, whereas now people are relocating for their primary residence.

"What we're finding is if you've holidayed in an area for 20 or 30 years and now you're finding you can work from home - people are saying to each other 'look let's make the dream move we've always wanted to'.

"People are relocating themselves and they're relocating their businesses.

"They're now moving their businesses online because it's an easier way to live and it can bring happiness to the business and the family.

"People have just had an awakening to what's going on surrounding Covid and certainly this is what's helping push the pricing in the area, people being unhappy over working long hours and being stuck in the city. An area like this is being pushed through the roof."

He added: "It's a crazy market, right the way from low end, right up to the premium market."

  • Wales Live, BBC One Wales, 22:35 BST, 26 May

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