House prices are rising according to the latest monthly report from Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Great news for property owners sitting pretty, not so encouraging for would-be first-time buyers.
The house price rise is pretty much country-wide, and includes the Midlands, Wales, the South East and London, but also Northern Ireland and Scotland, where gains were strongest.
Experts aren't getting over-excited, with many saying its a knee-jerk reaction to the Brexit deal having finally been 'done', and that it may not last.
However, if you're determined to buy your first property or move up the ladder this year and having already set about finding a mortgage, we reveal the secrets to bagging a bargain property that you might like to use to your advantage.
If you are a first-time buyer this is one thing that's really in your favour. If you're a homeowner, it's a riskier move to sell and move into a rental property. However, if you've found a buyer for your home and are really sure the price is right, and renting a smaller, affordable place in the meantime is doable, it might just be worth it.
What's so good about being chain-free? You're immediately more attractive to sellers (and therefore their estate agents). You're also less likely to be gazumped. And, most importantly, any sensible seller who's not awash with other offers should be tempted by your offer, even if it's lower than they might have originally wanted.
2. Get your mortgage pre-approved
Doing all your research in advance and having your mortgage pre-approved, at least in principle, means you're ready to move quickly, too. That will really suit some sellers. And of course if you're chain-free you can offer to go at whatever speed your seller wants, within reason.
3. Get the art of haggling spot on
Why are your vendors selling up? If theirs is a treasured family home that they've raised their children in and they're downsizing just because, it's unlikely they'll appreciate hard-nosed negotiating. Expect a 10 per cent drop. If you can get them lower than that you've done well.
If your vendors are in a hurry (we hate to say it but: financial difficulties, divorce, death), they may well be happy with a lower offer. But tread carefully, and sensitively... it's not unknown for people to cut off their nose to spite their face (metaphorically) and refuse to sell to someone they don't like.
Buying a new build from a developer? Buying from someone who's moving up the ladder themselves and have found the home of their dreams? Property unrealistically priced compared to similar ones in the area? You can be more aggressive with your negotiations.
In other words, find out why your vendors are moving and treat each case on its own merits.
4. Don't give the game away
It pays to have a game face. Don't say to the estate agent (in particular) or to the vendor 'this is my dream house, I must have it'. But also don't criticise the property to the owners... Instead, remain as neutral as you possibly can with your comments and expressions.
5. Politely point out the shortfalls
We say 'be neutral' but if there is a really obvious drawback to the property (which is not a deal breaker for you), such as a small kitchen, or a very dated bathroom, a crappy boiler or a broken roof, don't be afraid to point this out, tactfully, and suggest that your offer will have to reflect it. It never hurts for the agent to know (or be under the impression) that you are a canny buyer.