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Half of pandemic homebuyers fear they overpaid for their property

Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

The Stamp Duty holiday drove up house prices as well as demand, and some buyers feel they rushed into their purchase amid the homebuying frenzy

Half of UK homebuyers who bought during the Covid pandemic regret how much they paid for their property, research suggests.

On top of financial regrets, almost all pandemic purchasers felt rushed into buying their property meaning they missed problems while viewing, according to the study by Aviva.

Among the most common issues were poor plumbing, damp or mould, noisy neighbours and busy traffic.

Aviva surveyed 2,200 UK homeowners including 500 people who had agreed a sale since March 2020. It found more than two thirds of house buyers (68 per cent) felt under pressure to buy quickly when purchasing their latest property, rising to 94 per cent who bought during the pandemic.

In most cases, people made the decision to buy a property after looking at their prospective home for less than an hour.

The survey found people spent 40 minutes viewing their property before opting to buy – although this figure was slightly higher for those buying during the pandemic, taking typically around 46 minutes. Fifteen per cent of viewers felt confident of their decision after less than 20 minutes.

People who bought quickly, did so for a number of reasons. A third (34 per cent) of those who bought during the Covid pandemic were mostly swayed by the stamp duty holiday – although 32 per cent also stated they didn’t want to miss out because properties were selling so quickly.

A similar number (30 per cent) said they had lost out on other properties because they hadn’t made an offer quickly enough.

Regionally, people were most likely to feel the need to buy quickly in London, where 85 per cent of buyers said they felt under pressure. This compares with just 52 per cent of people in the north east who said the same.

Shockingly, the study discovered many buyers didn’t actually see their new home ‘in real life’ before choosing to buy it. Between March 2020 and June 2021, only around two fifths (42 per cent) viewed their property in person, instead relying on video viewings, photos and written information.

While the pandemic has undoubtedly had an impact on physical viewings, the Aviva study suggests the number of people seeing properties in person was already falling. Before February 2017, more than four fifths of buyers saw their new homes in person. However, the Aviva study suggests this had fallen to around half between March 2018 and February 2019.

People who bought during the pandemic are most likely to have paid over the asking price for their property. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) who bought between March 2020 and June 2021 said they agreed a figure over the asking price. This compares to just 8 per cent in the 12 months prior to March 2020.

Owen Morris, managing director, personal lines at Aviva, said: “The housing market is moving at an incredible pace, with multiple buyers for properties in many parts of the country. This is inevitably influencing how much people are paying for their homes and how quickly they are making decisions.

“But our research reveals many people are finding problems with their properties only when it’s too late. These range from more minor irritations, such as the need to decorate, to more worrying problems such as crumbling brickwork or a risk of flooding.

“It can be easy to fall in love with a home on first viewing, but we’d urge people to do their homework and proceed with caution when making one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives.”