Since its creation in 2000, the Rightmove website has had a massive impact on the UK property market and dramatically changed the way buyers carry out their property search. Before this, buyers had to telephone estate agents or physically walk into their offices to obtain details of suitable properties for sale. Now buyers can search (or often browse) 24/7 using their smartphone, without contacting an agent direct. It seems the natural, default way of searching for a new home, but it is easy to forget that it actually hasn’t been around for very long at all.
However, whilst Rightmove can tell buyers what is available, what is under offer (assuming the client has asked their agent to mark it as such of course), and how long a property has been for sale, and when it was reduced in price, there is something it can’t help buyers with, which is the status of that property right now. It can’t tell you how much interest there is in the property, or whether buyers are circling and the window of opportunity to buy it is closing. Only the agent can tell you the current situation.
I do feel that our obsession with the internet and our smartphones is causing many buyers to miss out on properties. They find what they like on Rightmove, perhaps look at it from the outside – or even view it through the agent, and then keep an eye on it online. But the next minute it flashes up as ‘under offer’ or even disappears altogether, a sale have being agreed, exchanged contracts or completed.
In the last fortnight alone I have had several calls from disappointed buyers wondering how they missed out on a property we were selling. Indeed if I had a pound for every time I have heard a buyer tell me they wish they had bought such and such property, or that they missed out on something recently, I suspect I would be floating around the Mediterranean on a large yacht!
One of the most common questions I get asked is ‘how long has the house been on the market’. But given it only takes a minute for a sale to be agreed, there is a very fine line indeed between this question, and then seeing the opportunity disappear altogether. It is almost as if we British only want to buy something once another buyer has appeared on the scene, when that situation is of actually beneficial to the seller.
The moral of this story is please use Rightmove to start your research and search, but be sure to talk to the relevant estate agents, who know the property, and also more importantly the market.