The following is a concise guide to the process of buying a house in England and the professionals you will need to use.
You can help yourself to lower the stress by following a few simple rules:-
Because of the ‘credit crunch’ securing a mortgage deal before you start looking for a new home is essential, for most people a mortgage is the biggest financial commitment. An ‘in principal’ letter is provided by the mortgage lender stating that they are prepared to lend a certain amount subject to approval of the property.
After deciding you are going to buy a new home and finding out how much you can afford, it is worth sitting down to consider what you would like from your new home. The following are all worth thinking about:-
Find out about the area you are planning to move to, remember you can change the house but not the neighbourhood so just because you can afford a bigger house in a not so nice area it might not be right for you. Consider yourself living in the area. Will you feel:-
Watch out for high crime areas or electrical sub stations nearby or a shared access. In addition check parking availability. Choose a property with a light and south/west aspect if possible.
Houses come in all shapes and sizes, but some are more suited to the way you live. Open plan living spaces are great for entertaining but if you need a quiet space which is easy to heat it is probably not for you. Traditional Victorian and Georgian buildings can offer fabulous spaces but are going to need more maintenance than a new build. Consider if this home is for life or just a stepping stone; it may be cheaper to extend than move again, is there space to build an extension on the side or in the attic? How many cars do you have; a double garage is so much easier than having to move one car out of the drive to get to the other behind it in the garage!
A few more important issues to consider when looking for your perfect home include:-
New homes are built to the latest building standards and benefit from a 10 year warranty. A new home will probably be better insulated and should require very little maintenance. You will always be at the end of the buying chain and if you part exchange there is no chain at all. You may also be able to specify your own features if you buy the house at an early state of construction.
New homes tend to be more expensive and have smaller rooms. They are also often closer to neighbouring properties. High density of most new estates usually restricts the number of parking spaces especially for visitors. Other issues include:-
House builders often place strict limits for exchanging contracts, usually from reservation to exchange in 28 days. If you already have a mortgage in principal letter and a solicitor this should be an easier process than buying an older property. You will need to make your selection of the builder’s options and extras as early as possible.
On or before the completion date your builder will give you a home demonstration, you should inspect your home for any defects.
After you move in if you have any problems you should follow the builders’ customer care procedure.
You must ask the builders the right questions before you sign the reservation form. House builders have a legal obligation not to make misleading or false statements. Ensure you ask about discounts, part exchange, the location of social housing, the completion date and what specifications and choices are available. Useful information includes the level of Council Tax, postal address and postcode and the site manager’s professional credentials, who is responsible for walls, fences and boundaries and any adjacent public spaces.
What is Conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the term used to describe the process of legal and administrative transfer of ownership of land and buildings from one owner to another. The process of Conveyancing starts after an offer has been accepted and the buyer and seller have exchanged solicitors’ details.
You can use a solicitor or licensed conveyancer or even do it yourself. But the risks and time involved usually outway the savings and the mortgage lender will usually insist on a solicitor performing the task.
The deeds are very important. Your solicitor should explain any unusual details within the deeds. They will detail any limitations, legal obligations or restrictions that come with the property such as not keeping chickens.
The title plan shows the following details:-
Neighbouring homes can share an access such as a driveway or the hall and stairs in flats. It also covers cases where access is gained to other property via your property. You should know details of any shared access including who is responsible for maintenance.
It is possible that some rights of way and footpaths can run across private property including gardens. It can be very costly to get a right of way removed.
The Title Deeds of new homes will contain restrictions, most of these are limited to the time until the development is fully constructed and sold. The restrictions can include parking commercial vehicles, caravans and trailer boats on the property. Alterations and extensions may not be permitted without written permission of the house builder.
Other restrictions have no time limit and can restrict land use, preventing for example the operation of a business from the property or erecting an extension. These can seriously damage the resale value of the property.
Before making an offer on a property ask a few questions:-
There is not a fixed price for properties. Savings can be made by using the right strategy during the negotiations. The opening offer is very important, usually it is a figure below the asking price depending on market conditions. The price may be adjusted later depending on the survey results.
If the purchase price is above £125,000.00 you will have to pay Stamp Duty, the amount varies depending on the purchase price.
There are a variety of factors to take into account when negotiating.
You can also improve your negotiating position by:-
Once the seller accepts your offer it has to be made formally in writing and subject to terms and conditions. Your offer will be ‘subject to contract and survey’, this means that you are not legally bound to complete the sale until a satisfactory survey has been completed and signed contracts have been exchanged. Also specify the fixtures and fittings to be included and if applicable any work to be completed on the property. Request the property to be taken off the market to reduce the chances of gazumping.
Contact Dale and Co. Solicitors for free independent legal advice before you bid!
If you want to sell your home as quickly and painlessly as possible you first need to know who is most likely to buy your house. Try tailoring the space to match possible buyers without putting off others; if you think a professional couple might be best suited to your house then ensure there is space for an office desk but ensure the second bedroom is a bedroom.
Traditionally the best time to sell a house is February, March and September. During these months demand often outstrips supply so selling is quicker and prices are at their highest.
Remember people want to imagine themselves living in the house. Remove anything which you do not need on a daily basis and put it in the attic, so ornaments and photos and clutter have to go. In addition if you can move large pieces of furniture into storage then it may be a good idea as spacious rooms are more appealing. Hallways should have no coats, boots or other clutter and bathrooms should not have personal items on display. Ensure the toilet seat is down and don’t forget to iron the bed sheets!
A coat of magnolia paint is an effective way of smartening up a home quickly. New light carpets are also loved by potential buyers, (no big patterns). Other quick fixes which can make all the difference include:-
If you have not got time or simply prefer not to redecorate, ensure your house is clean. Especially kitchens and bathrooms. You may consider using professionals to clean carpets, windows and the oven.
The front garden is the first impression and the back garden is often seen as an extra room. Both should be tidy, with the grass cut and children’s toys hidden away in the garage. Make the garden look like a great space for relaxing or entertaining.
First impressions count. If more people like a property then it is likely to sell faster. Here is a checklist of great little things you can do to make the best possible impression.
Leave this to the agent if possible.
If not, let a family member show viewers round. Do not crowd or clutter!
Your agent will be able to help. Listen to their advice as the highest offer may not be the best offer. Press for as much information regarding the buyers circumstances as possible, the key points are as follows:-
Your estate agent is the middleman between the buyer and you. You should not contact the buyer directly. Ask for the offer to be made in writing and ensure that the agent has all the background information on the buyer’s ability to move quickly. Compromise on both sides is key to securing a deal. Market conditions, how much the buyer loves your property and completion all dictate the amount a buyer is prepared to offer. You need to consider how quickly you need to move, the present market conditions and the size of your moving budget. Carpets and curtains are unlikely to fit your next home so use them as bargaining tools to maintain the asking price while giving the buyer something extra. Once a price has been agreed your solicitor will send a draft Contract to the buyer’s solicitor who will conduct the preliminary searches. You will need to agree on a date for a survey to be done on your property by a surveyor, a date for exchange of contracts and a proposed date for completion.
The exchange of contracts can only occur when the following criteria have been met:-
Once the Contracts have been signed by both parties (i.e. the buyer and the seller), a deposit of usually 10% of the purchase price will then be transferred by the buyer’s solicitor to the seller’s solicitor when Contracts are exchanged. [A completion date is then agreed between all parties.]
Usually the faster you get to completion the greater your chances of a successful transaction. Many of the factors which determine the speed of the transaction are out of your control, but selecting a good solicitor and estate agent will help, by ensuring the buyer is in a position to purchase your house when they make an offer. On completion the residual monies, usually 90% of the purchase price, will be transferred from the buyer’s solicitor to the seller’s solicitors’ account. Once your solicitor confirms the money has cleared in your account they will infirm you to release the keys – congratulations you have sold a house!
If you have a mortgage, you Bank or Building Society may hold your Title Deeds. The Title Deeds are your proof of ownership of the property and your solicitor will need to send a copy to the buyer’s solicitor during the initial stages of the conveyancing process. At Dale & Co Deeds are stored for free.
The buyer pays Stamp Duty; the amount is dependant on the purchase price.
On the completion date, which will be agreed mutually by all parties via your solicitor.
If you are selling your main home you do not usually need to pay Capital Gains Tax. Your solicitor will advise you on this.
Contact us for conveyancing fees as soon as you decide to sell a property. We will advise you fully to help you anticipate your moving house costs. We can even help you find an estate agent.
The second stage of selling your property. Once a Buyer has been found for the property we produce a Contract Package which includes copies of the title deeds and the contract. This is sent to the buyer’s solicitor so that they are fully aware of all details of the property.
When the buyer is happy with the Contract package and search results and has finance organised, the contracts can be signed by both parties and a completion date agreed.
The contacts are exchanged and become legally binding. The buyer will pay the deposit. If you are buying a property this deposit can be used towards your purchase.
Next we will approve the transfer deed. You need to sign this document before completion so that the title to the property can be transferred to the new owner.
The final stage of your property sale. On the completion date the remaining money is paid by the purchaser and we forward the title deeds to their solicitor. With the proceeds we will pay any outstanding balance from the sale – such as our fees, Estate Agents fees and any mortgage outstanding. Any remaining money will be returned to you or used towards a purchase.
Remortgaging enables you to switch mortgage if you find a better deal or to change the length of your mortgage term. This can make substantial savings and can allow you to borrow more money.
The remortgaging process itself is usually straightforward but can be costly, so you will need to carefully consider your options before switching lender. Conveyancing, surveys and any redemption or reservation fees need to be taken into account.
Research your new mortgage carefully and contact Dale and Co. Solicitors Lincoln Conveyancing Team to discuss the necessary legal arrangements.
The difference between the value of a property and the amount left outstanding on its mortgage is known as equity.
Equity can be transferred when an owner (or joint owner) of land or property wishes to transfer their ownership to someone else, for example through divorce proceedings or as a gift. It is advisable that a Solicitor is instructed for a Transfer of Equity to ensure that any liabilities are disclosed.
Contact the Dale and Co. Property Conveyancing team for a Transfer of Equity quote.
If a mortgage will continue after the transfer, permission must be obtained from the lender.
This can be a good time to reassess your mortgage and check that you have the best deal. Your lender may require you to attend an interview or write a letter to explain the reason for the transfer. They may need proof that the amended owner(s) can afford to pay the mortgage and can issue conditions to the change, which your Solicitor will ensure are carried out. A mortgage lender has absolute discretion to approve or refuse a Transfer of Equity request.