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QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER/ASK WHEN VIEWING A PROPERTY
Ask and/or consider these questions when considering buying a property and note the answers. You can directly ask these of the Estate Agent, Vendor, Solicitor or a combination. I’d recommend asking in writing so you have a written response for future reference or at the very least note the address and keep answers individually for each property for future reference.
If you want to be really technical you could even rate each question with a score based upon your personal attitude to the question, e.g. 1 = good 2 = No Impact 3 = concern/bad. That way you can quickly see which property scores highest and that may help you decide between properties.
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So you’ve accepted an offer on your property! But what happens next? The time between initial offer being accepted and handing the keys over to your buyer can be both exciting and stressful, ensuring your understand the basics of the process can help both reduce the stress and save money. Below we set up an overview of the process.
- Sales Administration
Now that a price has been agreed, your Totallymoving Consultant will pass all the details of your sale over to our Sales Progression team and will oversee the process to ensure that the sale proceeds to your plan. Once sold the process begins and our expert team will provide a single point of contact for your buyer, solicitors, surveyors and others as necessary to ensure that the transaction progresses smoothly. Their main duties include:
- Liaising between solicitors to ensure the transaction runs smoothly
- Keeping both parties informed and up to date with the process, including at least weekly calls as necessary to avoid hiccups.
- Liaising with buyers and professional advisers as agreed to ensure that the sale process and all documents are managed effectively.
- Instructing a Solicitor
Appointing a Solicitor (Conveyancer) to help you with the legal challenges and investigations is a prudent step and whilst you may feel confident enough to do this yourself, it is not our recommended course of action. Finding the right Solicitor can be time consuming, as such we have made it easier for you by providing a dedicated search function on our website to enable you to quickly get FREE QUOTES and compare prices. Simply visit http://totallymoving.co.uk/conveyancing-quotes/to get started. Finding the right legal adviser can be the between a successful and reduced stress home move, or a sale being delayed and stressful so make sure you find a person you’re happy with and remember you often get what you pay for! Once you have instructed a legal team please get in touch with your Sales Consultant and provide them with the contact details so we can send them the necessary documents about your move.
- Filling in the Paperwork
Your solicitor will send you various documents to complete and return, including authenticated proof of identification and your current address. Our Consultant can usually assist with the authentication and is available to do so if necessary. Another of the forms will also request details of what fixtures and fittings you intend to include in the sale of the property, such as curtains, carpets and white goods. You should be honest and accurate in what you intend to leave as your buyer will rely upon that information.
Requesting Deeds Your solicitor will request a copy of the property deeds from you or your mortgage lender. I
ssuing of Contracts After you return the forms to your Solicitor they will request Office Copies from the Land Registry and a redemption figure (amount you have to repay your mortgage lender), they will then draw up a contract. These documents form part of the Contract Pack which is then sent to the buyer’s Solicitor for them to review.
Raising EnquiriesYour buyer’s solicitor will review the contract pack and “Raise Enquiries” (if necessary) with your solicitor on any aspects of the contract which require clarification or amendment. The contract pack documents often go backwards and forwards between Solicitors until each party is agreed on the wording and the final version is then confirmed.
It is ALWAYS prudent to commission your own survey and there are effectively 2 types to choose from (ignoring the Mortgage Valuation which is not strictly speaking a survey and should not be relied upon in isolation). If your buyer is purchasing with a mortgage, their lender will often instruct a Valuation Survey, which is simply done to confirm that the property is worth the price they are paying.
Homebuyer Report The RICS Homebuyer (level 2) Report is intended for properties of traditional construction, built after say 1900 (but that depends on the individual property) and in a seemingly reasonable condition. This report is relatively detailed and comprises of a Chartered Surveyor (member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, RICS) completing a visual inspection of the property to identify ‘serious’ defects. A ‘serious’ defect being essentially anything the Surveyor thinks you would want to know about within the scope of the instruction, but usually relates to defects that could impact the normal use of the property (or would do so if not repaired), along with health & safety matters and information about the local area. The Surveyor provides their opinion on the ‘Market Value’ of the property which is NOT the same as its worth to you as a buyer (albeit often the numbers will be the same or similar). A Market Value is an opinion on the date of inspection and as such two Surveyors’ opinions may differ slightly, this is known as the ‘tolerance’ level. The report will consider defects such as dampness, structural movement, an inspection of the drains, roof space, electrical system, gas appliances, windows, doors, walls and outbuildings will be included (amongst other things).
Point to note: whilst the Surveyor does not necessarily need you to be present during the survey (keys can be obtained from your Property Consultant if necessary), it is prudent to make their life as easy as possible for instance ensuring roof space areas are clear, garages and outbuildings openable, windows/doors openable, etc..
Building SurveyThe buyer may also choose to undertake a more in depth survey which will examine the condition of the building in more details and provide them with a more comprehensive report. The RICS Building Survey (level 3) Report is suitable for any property, however due to the additional cost of such a survey is usually more appropriate for older type or more unusual buildings, or those that require more in depth discussion such as where development plans are being considered or the building is a Listed Building say. If a survey requested, our Property Consultant or Sales Admin Team will provide the Surveyor with your contact details to enable the Surveyor to liaise directly with you to arrange a mutually convenient time, alternatively if you prefer you can ask us to manage that aspect for you. The type of survey being carried out will dictate on how long the surveyor will spend in the property and can vary dependent upon defects found or the complexity of the building You should however, as a ‘rule of thumb’ allow around 30 minutes for a Mortgage Valuation, 1-2 hours for a Homebuyer Survey and 3-4 hours for a Building Survey. If the survey does highlight any defects or matters for further consideration or negotiation of price, then our Sales Consultant may be able to assist you with that aspect.
Searches are the colloquial name for further investigations, These can be done by your Solicitor and/or our Sales Admin Team and their purpose is to ensure there are no known problems in the area which may affect the property in the future. The Searches are usually completed without requiring any further information from you. The standard searches are:
Local Authority Search The Local Council holds various information and enquiries are made of them to obtain that, these can include outstanding enforcement notices, development plans that might affect the property or surrounding area, etc. The Local Council will usually take around 5 working days to resolve these enquiries and whilst cash buyers can opt out of the process this would increase risk and the Solicitor would likely highly recommend you don’t do so.
Drainage and Water Search This search is intended to confirm whether the property has mains water and drainage, and is completed using information provided by the particular utility provider. Usually takes three – four days.
Environmental Search This search examines the historical and current records to provide an indication of whether your property might be built on or near contaminated land. Although this search does not involve any on-site tests on the land, it can indicate whether further investigation is necessary such as if the land was built on a former landfill site or other known problem. This can be done electronically and completed within 48 hours.
Coal Mining Search There are large areas in the UK where such searches are required for mortgage lending purposes, albeit any purchaser is well advised to have such as search in areas where historic mining activity has taken place. The search is carried out to help ensure the property is not in danger of possible future problems resulting from being located in or around a former coal mining site. This is done by contacting the Coal Mining Database and can be completed within 48 hours.
Chancel SearchChancel repair liability requires landowners to pay for the repair of the chancel (the part of the church containing the altar and the choir) of an Anglican parish church. When local rectors owned land in the parish, they were responsible for repairing the chancel using money produced from the land, usually in the surrounding area to a particular church but can extend further afield in some cases. This is an optional search, and indicates whether the property has any liability to pay for repairs to a parish church. There have been some very large amounts payable by landowners and whilst an optional search, it would be prudent to clarify these matters.
- Contracts & Transfer
If the Searches are clear the solicitors will send a copy of the property contract to you and the buyer who will be asked to sign and send back.
- Completion Date
The Property Consultant or Sales Admin Team will work with you to set a date for completion, this will of course involve agreement of the date between you and the buyer. If there is a chain of property transactions involved (which can seriously complicate matters), the Property Consultant and Sales Admin Team will coordinate sales with the aim being to complete all transactions simultaneously so that no one is left homeless!
- Exchange of Contracts
You’re almost there! The ‘Exchange of Contracts’ is the point at which you and your buyer are legally bound to complete the process and failure to do so can result in either party being subject to financial penalties if they choose not to do so. The Exchange of Contracts legally binds you and the buyer to sell and purchase the property respectively. This is done by the solicitors over the telephone and, as a general rule of thumb, completion is often set for a week after exchange has taken place but can be set at any point agreed between parties and acceptable to those involved. If you have not already done so, this is the point which you should definitely start to plan your move (albeit you should have done this many months previously) to ensure that the property will be clear of any possessions which are not included in the sale before the completion date.
Completion is the point at which the title (ownership) of the property is transferred from you to the buyer and from which point they take full possession of the property. The buyer’s solicitor will ensure that the sale proceeds are sent to your solicitor who will confirm it is received so that either you or if we are dealing with this aspect for you, your Property Consultant/Sales Admin Team can ensure the keys are ready for collection by the buyer. Keys should not be released unless/until you are certain that funds are transferred and the sale has been confirmed (preferably in writing by email at least, but usually over the phone) by your solicitor. Funds usually transfer mid-afternoon and once confirmed you will be notified.
Ways To Increase The Value/Saleability Of Your Property
As we all know, property values rise and fall over time and can do so quickly without notice. To help reduce the risk of being adversely affected, albeit it’s worth noting nothing is guaranteed of course, we’ve compiled a list of some things that may help you to improve the equity in your property. Remember the highest price, ceiling price, achieved was previously different than today, as such it can be influenced to a greater or lesser extent by your own actions.
- Kerb Appeal. First impressions count when selling a property, in particular if the agent’s details have a photo of the front of your house which they should!. So tidy up the front garden, paint/point or otherwise improve the front facing walls and even paint or clean the driveway, you’ll be surprises at the impact such simple measures can have.
- De-clutter your property and in particular ensure that the house is clean, tidy and smells sweet when potential buyers are visiting.
- Tidy the gardens and include some garden furniture to brighten up the garden areas and show how the outside space can be used. If it’s quite small, how about painting a wall or other feature with a landscape, this can create the feeling of space where space is limited.
- Improve outdated features by modernising, albeit bear in mind if it’s a character property then some buyers will pay more for period features. However if removing a disused chimney breast adds more space, then consider such things or opening up rooms for instance can also be a relatively simple solution. Building Regulations should of course be complied with for any structural or such works.
- Enlarging rooms, such as having an open plan kitchen/lounge is a popular feature at the moment and with the addition of natural lighting, such as a lightwell, can create a very useable and attractive space.
- If you’re renting the property out as a single let, why not change it to an HMO or micro flats? If you already have an HMO, who is it let to and can you improve the tenants to say professionals who may pay more? Can you change the lending criteria, i.e. to a commercial mortgage based upon income rather than bricks and mortar to release equity? Again Local Authority consents may well be required for such changes.
- Change the use of a property. Commercial to residential or even vice versa could work and in particular as there is a very favourable Planning regime at the moment and furthermore Stamp Duty Land Tax rules can also be different for mixed use properties, potentially saving money on the dual home tax liability.
- Add period features back into your property or ensure that those present are in a reasonable condition and look authentic.
- Lease length can be a major factor in value of leasehold properties, if less than 80 years the marriage value of a flat can increase the extension costs significantly. Always act early and seek professional advice, it can save you thousands!
- If there’s DIY works been carried out, then change these to make them look professional and ensure that testing certificates can be provided, along with any local authority consents, to give the buyer comfort as to the quality of the works.
- Convert, convert, convert, whether garage into habitable rooms or loft conversions, such works can significantly add value if done correctly and in compliance with regulations, the opposite can apply if not!
- Extending a property can add value, but as with any works ensure you have carried out a cost-benefit analysis as sometimes extending doesn’t increase value above the cost of the works, or might even be less than.
- Use internal space better, such as having good quality fitted wardrobes, cupboards beneath stairs, etc…
- Illumiate!. Dark rooms don't improve saleability.
- If you can’t afford to replace the whole kitchen, then at least spruce up what you have, replacing just the doors and a worktop can have a profound effect.
- Be a smart Vendor (seller) by using sales techniques and considering the pshcology of potential buyers. For instance, 4ft "double" beds, fresh coffee and aromas in the house all add ambience. Have a viewing plan, i.e. start in a specific place, follow a route and have positive messages to discuss along the way, following which end on a high note at the best place in the property.
- If you know of major problems don’t try to hide them, be honest and get them sorted, it can save you time and money later should a Surveyor find these and your potential buyers pull out. Honesty is always the best policy!
- Give the decorations a spruce up just before the sale, cover marks, scratches and light damage during these works.
- If you have parking spaces available in an area where parking is a problem, then highlight the fact and time the viewings around traffic being lighter!
- Adding energy saving devices can produce additional income streams and/or savings, being attractive to purchasers. But again remember the installation costs and regulations required.
- Gone is the outside loo visit, thank God. People’s expectations have changed, as such having an en-suite, cloakroom and/or additional bathrooms can increase the amenity and value.
- Simply moving a bathroom from the ground floor to the upper floor can be a very attractive change to potential buyers.
- Technology expectations are changing so move with the times. Having sufficient outlets in good locations, network cables hidden and/or speakers in rooms are all attractive to potential buyers.
- Is there any development potential? If so do you want to sell it with the property or carve it off and sell/develop separately? BOGOFF is a great way to pay off the mortgage and provide additional funds for your next purchase, worth considering if you’re lucky enough to have the available space!
- Split the title and/or property. Do you need less space and have a detached property say? Could you split into flats, semi-detached, etc.. and thus create value that didn’t exist before?