`Prices are not going to drop'

Rebecca Fowler reports on the two sides it takes to clinch a property deal
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The Independent Online
Oliver Gill is an estate agent's dream; he is a first-time buyer, with pounds 20,000 of savings in the bank, and his eye on three- bedroom flats in Croydon, which is among the areas that have seen the greatest recovery in the market.

But Mr Gill, a salesman of hairdressing products, has bided his time until this year. He watched prices continue to drop alongside interest rates, which have fallen to record levels since November, and he has witnessed the lending institutions clamouring for custom.

"I've been one of the greedy ones. I've watched everything go down and down. I thought I'd sit on what I had, a hefty deposit, and pick my moment. Now there are these magnificent mortgage deals where you can play them off against each other, and it's clear the prices are not going to drop any further, if anything they're perking up."

When he started looking seriously for a property at the beginning of the year, Mr Gill said the flats he saw were disappointing. But in recent weeks he says the quality in his price range, pounds 50,000, has improved significantly and he is currently considering putting an offer on a flat he saw this week.

He said: "To begin with I was going to start at the bottom with a pounds 30,000 flat, but it's all dross, and by going up one level you get a lot more for your money."

Like many first-time buyers, Mr Gill, who has rented since he was 16, was concerned about financial security during the recession. But under the current mortgage deals, he estimates he will be paying as little as pounds 200 a month.

Mr Gill said: "Everyone always thinks about security, but even in the worst-case scenario, with the mortgage deals as good as they are, I could still afford to live there. People's confidence is definitely coming back."

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