Here are some of the most common questions you are likely to want information about when moving home.
Where should I buy my new home?
Many buy homes purely on impulse or on first reactions. Some buy just because its cheap or low priced. Some (particularly developers) like to give discounts as a way of securing the deal. Given that its likely to be the largest purchase you’re likely to make, its important that you do as much research including online to get as much information as possible. The best advice is to see as many houses as possible. This will give you a good feel for what’s available in your price bracket. Before you even look at properties take a little time to decide which town, village or area is for you. If you are local you will have a fair idea of transport links, schools, major planning proposals, local amenities and the like, but if you are new to an area it is definitely worth researching these things. Contact the local authority administration office which should be able to help or refer you to the appropriate department. If you are concerned about personal and home security, contact the local police as they will tell you if you are about to move into the home from hell! Remember location, location location.
What should I buy and what is important to consider?
Everyone has different priorities. Most of us are constrained by how much we can afford so cheap, low priced or discounted properties can be very appealing but other considerations should include how future proof it is (as a rule of thumb most people move once every seven years), the costs of maintenance as older buildings can cost more to upkeep, access and parking facilities – can you park near your home? Are any facilities shared such as driveways? Can you use your home for business purposes? Can you keep pets in the property?
It would surprise you how many see a property just once then buy it with little information to hand. You should always visit a house at least twice before putting an offer in. Make sure to see it in the daylight and at night, during the week and at weekends. A property which appears highly desirable on a first visit can be otherwise at a different time of the day or week. A quiet street during the week can become a nightmare later in the evening.
Where can I find homes for sale other than my local estate agent?
Most of us will venture to the local estate agent when searching for a new home. This may extend to the local property paper. However, don’t forget to trawl online to get as much information as possible. Most estate agents will be listed with rightmove.co.uk which is the largest property portal around. They contain links to many other useful sites so you can do most of your research without even venturing out. It’s also worth driving or better still walking around an area for for-sale boards as many sellers now market their homes themselves as it is a simple and inexpensive way to sell.
How do I know if the price being asked is fair and reasonable?
Today, its very easy to find information about out what the seller paid for a property – just go online and visit houseprices.co.uk and see for yourself to see whether the property really is as cheap as you think! Even if that isn’t listed, you should be able to find out what other properties in the area have sold for. Also obtain sale details and view as many similar houses as possible regardless of their condition. Use this as a rule of thumb only as other considerations such as the condition of the property may have affected the price.
Take notes on each house’s good and bad points: Is it cheap? What discounts are being offered? Can I lower the price? What size and shape are the rooms? Will I get my furniture in? How modern are the services like heating, electricity and plumbing? When were they last serviced? Will I need to decorate? Are the windows double glazed? Does the house smell of damp? Are the bathroom and kitchen fittings in need of replacement? Does the roof look well maintained? This will help you compare properties as once you’ve seen a few it will get confusing otherwise!
You should also employ the services of a surveyor to carry out a valuation. This is particularly advisable for unique properties that differ from others on the same street.
What should I be aware of about new build homes?
Buying a new house is not that different from buying a more established property. One possible advantage is that you should not have many repairs in the first few years. The house should benefit from a National House Building Council, Zurich or equivalent 10 year guarantee. Otherwise you must ensure there is an architect’s supervision certificate and the architect’s professional indemnity insurance. If there is no 10 year guarantee for the property or architect’s certificate then you will have a major problem obtaining a mortgage for it – in fact, you would be well advised to walk away at this stage to save you costs. If you are paying cash for the house remember that if you try to sell it during the first ten years a prospective purchaser will still have problems obtaining a mortgage without these guarantees or architect’s certificate.
You should also remember that it is illegal to live in a house without a completion certificate from the council. Normally builders will have the property approved by the council building control officer then once the officer has indicated that the property meets the Building Regulations the builders will invite you for a pre completion inspection. This will enable you to check with the site agent any matters which have not been finished. Normally you cannot delay payment of the price if there are snagging jobs which are incomplete on the date you move in provided that the council officer has approved the property. The builder still will be under a continuing liability to sort out any snagging problems for a period up to two years after the property has been completed. If issues with the builder are not resolved amicably you should contact the NHBC, Zurich or equivalent guarantee provider to act as an arbitrator.
What are Home Information Packs?
Home information packs were effectively abolished on 20 May 2010. However it is still a legal requirement to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) within 28 days of your property being put on the market. As part of our conveyancing service we can provide you with an energy performance certificate.
What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a compulsory requirement for all homes whenever built, rented or sold. If you are buying or selling a property, it is a legal requirement to have an EPC. The certificate is a record of how energy efficient a property is and provides ratings ranging from A to G. EPCs allow prospective buyers, tennants and occupiers to see information on the energy efficiency and carbon emmisions from their building, allowing them to consider energy efficiency and fuel costs as part of their investment.
I’ve seen the property, what do I do next?
You should contact your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor fast. We offer a national coverage and are members of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (formerly The Law Society) so you can be assured of a quality conveyancing service.
What does my conveyancing quotation include?
As part of our conveyancing
service, we will tell you our fee, the VAT payable on it together with any third party costs (usually referred to as disbursements) which should be limited to the following: -
Energy performance certificate.
Sale – official copies of your title and bank transfer fee to repay your mortgage.
Purchase – bank transfer fee to pay over purchase price on completion, stamp duty land tax (if applicable), final search fees (also referred to as a priority search and bankrutcy search) and registration fees payable to Land Registry to transfer ownership of the property to you.
Remortgage – official copies of your title, bank transfer fee to repay your existing mortgage, indemnity insurance in place of a local authority search, final search fees (also referred to as a priority search and bankruptcy search) and registration fees payable to Land Registry to transfer ownership of the property to you.
If you have obtained a quote elsewhere (which we would always recommend), if it includes anything else, you should ask why. The chances are you will discover it should be incorporated into the actual fee the solicitor or conveyancer is receiving. Always look at the total cost and any small print. It might not seem quite as cheap once you do!
We’re so confident that we tick all the boxes that we have made it even easier for you to compare our conveyancing service with our competitors by clicking here. You will see firms that are actively pursuing your business. It also includes a google search facility so you can search further afield if you prefer.
Do I need to see my conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor?
Put simply – no. We offer national coverage and geography is never a problem to us. We recognise that most of us have better things to do with our time so we make full use of emails, phones, fax etc to achieve faster communication. Except in exceptional cases you can complete your purchase without meeting us. In all correspondence or emails to you we shall indicate the name, direct phone number and direct email address of the person in our office dealing with your case.
What details do I give to my conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor?
We will request some basic contact information from you on accepting your instruction. We will then send any requests for additional information as fast as possible to you so that you can attend to these at your earliest convenience.
What about my mortgage?
Very few have the cash available to buy a property outright so most will need to borrow funds fro an institutional lender. How much we need or can afford to borrow and the most appropriate type of mortgage are all governed by regulations imposed by government and the various banks and building societies who offer many different types of mortgage products. You need someone to explain all this to you and to ensure that the mortgage product is right for your present circumstances but also with an eye to your future requirements, particularly if you do not view your purchase as your long term home. If you already have a mortgage advisor or have set up a mortgage in principle with a lender simply tell them that we are acting as your solicitors and they will advise the lender to send the mortgage instructions to us. Any offer will be copied to you by the lender directly so you will know when we have the offer ourselves. We are on the panels of all major lenders – not all solicitors are so be wary of instructing a sole practitioner as they are unlikely to be able to act for the lender.
Should I have my new home surveyed?
Yes. Even if you are a cash buyer you should still obtain a survey.
Is there more than one type of survey?
At present most purchasers choose either a valuation report or a homebuyer’s survey. The valuation report the cheapest of all surveys and is required by your lender and obliges the surveyor to visit the property, indicate a market value, a reinstatement value and to indicate any potential problems with the property which could affect the lender’s decision to lend. However this will be for the lender’s benefit so if problems are later uncovered, you are unlikely to be able to seek any legal redress.
The homebuyer’s report is recommended as a minimum and is longer than the valuation report. It’s major benefit is that the house purchaser who instructs it would normally have a claim against the surveyor for an error in the report. If the property is old (typically more than 100 or so years), you should opt for a full structural survey.
Is my offer to buy binding?
Until contracts have been exchanged, nothing is binding and either party is free to walk away.
What conveyancing costs do I have if the matter aborts?
You will have to pay the surveyor’s fee and possibly any mortgage arrangement fees. We do not charge you for the service we provide although if any third party costs such as search fees have been incurred, they will be payable.
How do I know what I am buying?
We will examine the title to the property you are buying carefully and send you a report in plain English once our enquiries are complete. This report should provide a plan of the property and a note of all the conditions which may affect your enjoyment of the property.
What sort of conditions are there likely to be?
Most houses have restrictions on business use, parking of vehicles, keeping pets, altering the property without council permission, construction and maintenance of boundary walls and so forth. Normally the public utilities like gas, water and electricity companies have rights to maintain their pipes and cables on your property provided they repair any damage. You will also be required to insure and maintain your home, and not to use it for a purpose which would be a nuisance to neighbours.
Are there any differences if I’m buying a flat?
There are special restrictions to protect other flat owners and by default yourself. Certain parts of the building shared by flat owners should be held in common ownership by all the flat owners in a building. These are normally the foundations, outside and division walls, the roof, gutters and down pipes, common entrance , close and stairs, back courts, and bin areas. Sometimes even attics are common. This can be important if you are buying a top floor flat. Also, in an age where premium space is hard to find, we have encountered some developers who reserve the right to build on top!
How are these common areas managed and who pays for their maintenance?
Normally managing agents are employed to co-ordinate repairs to these common areas under the direction of a majority of the flat owners in a building. The title deeds will indicate what share each owner pays to maintain these common areas and payment of the managing agents fee. If a flat owner fails to pay his share then they can be sued by the other flat owners. To maintain the value of all properties in the building it is in everyone’s interest for these common repairs to be done and paid for. It is not uncommon these days for the flat owners to purchase the freehold of the building and even manage the property themselves.
What will my mortgage offer contain?
All lenders’ mortgage offers run to several pages and sometimes include booklets which can complicate matters. However you should always read the offer carefully.
Will there be anything for me to sign?
Yes. There will be a contract, mortgage deed and transfer. Occasionally, there are other forms but we will advise you based on your particular circumstances.
When do I pay my deposit and how much will it be for?
Once we are ready to exchange contracts, we will ask for a 10% deposit unless you are seeking more than 90% of the funding from your mortgage.
How is the purchase price paid?
Once we have an agreed completion date, we will ask for any shortfall in completion monies from you. On completion, we will send a same day CHAPS payment to your seller’s solicitor. They in turn will repay any existing mortgage on the property.
How do I get the keys to my new home?
Only once funds are received will keys be released. They are normally held by the estate agent. Typically, you should have them by about 3.00 p.m. so be wary of arranging removals vans too early. Due to uncertainties with the banking system, the exact time cannot be guaranteed. We will always prioritise completions so that you can move in as fast as possible.
What should I look out for once I’m in my new home?
Always check the fixtures list you have been provided with against what’s actually still in the property. Report any discrepancies to us immediately so that we can take the appropriate action. Also check the meters and notify the relevant utilities provider including the local council office so they can issue the relevant council tax notice.
What happens to the title deeds?
There is no longer any physical title deeds for properties any more. All records are online in computerised format at Land Registry. In exchange for the price the seller’s solicitor will send us a Transfer Deed which we will register on your behalf and once dealt with, pass on the information to the lender.
How are the financial matters finalised?
We will finalise this as fast as possible and usually within a week of completion as there is a large amount of post completion work for us to carry out even after you’ve got the keys.