Tough negotiations can save thousands of pounds

Tough negotiation and reduced fees can save buyers as much as £24,750 on the average property price of £163,000, reveals the annual &#39Cost of Moving&#39 survey from The Woolwich.

Over one-third of house buyers negotiated between 6% and 15% off the asking price. In addition, the cost of moving from a £150,000 home to a home worth £200,000 has fallen by £300 from £5,523 to £5,202 this year.

Andy Gray, head of mortgages at The Woolwich says, “More than ever it seems that a hard-nosed stance can pay dividends when negotiating on both price and fees for moving house. House buyers should not be afraid of taking a tough position because, despite the optimism felt by estate agents for the coming year, it is a buyer&#39s market at the moment.”

The survey shows that Londoners are the best at driving down the asking price of properties up for sale – one in two Londoners negotiated between 6-15% off the asking price, which on the average cost of a London property means up to £37,500 can be saved. There is less room for manoeuvre in Yorkshire and Humberside where only one in 10 homebuyers negotiated between 6-15% off the price.

The Woolwich offers the following advice to help drive down the cost of moving:

• Research, research, research…

• Make sure you know the market value of the property you are viewing.

• What have similar properties been sold for in the area?

• Check newspapers in advance of looking for a property.

• Advise estate agent if you are chain-free, cash buyer and prepared to move quickly

• Get your mortgage arranged before you bid for a property and maken it known to the estate agent – it might make the difference between them choosing you over another bidder.

• Is there anyone else about to make an offer on the property?

• Check how long the property has been on the market for.

• Never offer the asking price straight away but don&#39t make it so low that the seller doesn&#39t think you are serious.

• Use the &#39Cost of Moving&#39 guide from The Woolwich to negotiate with estate agents and solicitors on your moving fees.

The survey revealed that moving fees vary significantly between the North and South. The average fees to move from a £150,000 home to one costing £200,000 are down 6% to £5,202 across England and Wales but those in the South lose out with London buyers paying over £6,000 compared to their northern counterparts who pay an average £4,700. Buyers in East Anglia and the South-West also pay more than the national average with fees of around £5,800 and £5,900 respectively.

The survey also reveals good news for both buyers and sellers as estate agents are showing greater optimism in the housing market, with 42% remaining optimistic for the coming year.

However, they do predict that the rate of house price growth will soften compared to 2003 – 35% think that house prices will increase from 5% to more than 10% compared to 50%in 2003 and 28% thought they would stay the same.

The North leads the way with predictions on house prices with almost half of estate agents expecting increases from 5% to more than 10% compared to 30% in the Southand 40% in the Midlands.