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Nick Churton of Mayfair Office takes a look at what property buyers can expect in 2014 and offers some timely words of advice.

2014 looks like it might be a year for the seller. In many parts of the country property stocks are already dwindling and there are pockets with practically nothing available at all. Demand has outstripped supply to such a marked degree that prices are rising. Estate agents often get the blame for pushing up prices. But it is buyers who set the pace. Whichever way you cut it a property is still only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it.

So here are just a few things to take into account if you are keen to move home this year.

By all means keep your eye on the big property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla. But by the time a new property hits those sites it could well be too late – there may be several people ahead of you in the queue. That is because they know what is coming on to the market before it actually does. So it is essential for you to get to know the estate agents in the area and ensure that you stay in regular contact with them. In this market it will be the squeaky wheel that gets oiled. Making yourself known and heard is the best way to keep ahead in the buying game.  Make your estate agent your friend not your foe.

Within reason, in a rising market, dare to buy at a future value rather than the present one. Offer what you think the property will be worth by the time you complete several months down the line. By the time you do move the value of the house may have risen by about one per cent. This means you can sometimes afford to outbid more timid buyers. So don’t be mean with your offer – you could lose a really good property.

Make sure you are in a good position to buy. If you have a property to sell then sell it. At least have it under offer. If you were deciding between one buyer with a house to sell or another who had already sold which would you choose?

Be very careful of gazumping. Outbidding on a property where a deal has already been agreed may seem clever. But it very often leads to misery. First, the original buyer may top your offer. Second, if the owner is prepared to go back on the original deal to take a better offer he could well do the same again with you.  Gazumping is not illegal but many would agree it is far from moral. Take it from someone who knows - avoid gazumping like the plague.

Don’t be too gleeful at the amount you get for your property – the price you pay for the next one you buy could wipe the smile off your face! In other words what you win on the swings you lose on the roundabouts.

This year we will see many more initial asking price offers. Yet some buyers, still believing that they can wait or make silly low offers, will be left behind. So do the best thing that you can do, enlist the help of an estate agent who experienced the market the last time this happened – and preferably the time before that.

But all this still doesn’t mean that sellers can slap on any old price for their properties and expect a stampede. Buyers may be keen but they are certainly not desperate and definitely not stupid.

Happy New Year and happy house hunting.