Comment: The stress of moving in a seller's market

Property viewings are allowed to continue during the latest lockdown - but face coverings should be worn. 

The average UK mover takes between 30 minutes and an hour spread over two viewings before they're ready to make an offer. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Remember when deciding whether to purchase a property could involve multiple viewings spread over several weeks?

Oh, those glory days! Those days are gone.

These days the average UK mover takes between 30 minutes and an hour spread over two viewings before they're ready to make an offer. 
And compared to the St Albans and Harpenden markets, that seems like absolutely ages. 

We had one half-hour viewing before making an offer on our current home last year, and that felt like loads of time compared to some of the frantic open houses we'd attended previously. 

In the time we spent looking, it was common for popular properties to be viewed in 10-15 minute increments over the space of a few hours. 
Inevitably, these slots would overlap at either end, with rival parties trying to avoid each other (and eavesdrop on each other) while also getting a half-decent look at the house they were potentially wanting to purchase.  
Brilliant from a seller's point of view, but rubbish for buyers.  

U-See Homes quizzed over 1,000 people who'd bought a new place in the last six months to reach their conclusions, confirming that the days of three or four viewings are long gone in most parts of the UK. 

Simon Dempsey, who heads up marketing for U-See Homes, said: “We know that homes are going under offer incredibly quickly in current market conditions and we’re now starting to see a shortage of stock entering the market to satisfy the over- whelming buyer demand."

Locally, we've been seeing that for years, particularly where family homes are concerned.  

A shortage of supply puts buyers in a frustrating position: obviously a decision of this magnitude takes time, but with so many rival parties jostling for so few homes, decisions have to be made at speed.  

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I remember buying our first home in 2003, a sort of halcyon era in which a week of dithering could occur before a second viewing was even booked in. It's hard to imagine that now. 

With the first phase of the stamp duty holiday reaching its conclusion next week, it will be interesting to see if the anticipated levelling off of demand occurs. 

We can but hope. Because regardless of their individual positions, I think all movers would favour a less frenetic environment in which to make what could be the biggest — and most expensive — move of their life.