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Useful information for home movers
You may have moved several times before but we thought it might be useful to give you the benefit of our conveyancing experience anyway so that you can hopefully avoid any problems along the way.
Work out how much you can comfortably afford
Before you trawl the streets, go online or pick up yet another property newspaper, work out how much you can realistically afford to pay for your new home. Be wary of cheap or discounted properties. Get as much information as you can. You'll only have problems if after finding your dream home that you discover that you just can't afford to buy it! It may sound obvious but with house prices and interest rates on the up, even a delay of a month or two can make all the difference.
Generally speaking, if you are buying a house on your own, you will be able to borrow somewhere around three and a half times your annual salary. If you are buying with another person then the general rule is around three times your joint income. There are many lending institutions out there. Just go online and visit www.moneysupermarket.com to see for yourself. There is a myriad of information on there. Each lender will differ and income multiples vary quite widely. Always have it firmly in your mind that you must be able to comfortably afford to repay your borrowings. Remember interest rates can go up as well as down. Would you be able to afford your mortgage repayments if they increased?
Decision in principle
You might need the help of an independent financial adviser or mortgage broker to help you track down the best mortgage for you. Alternatively you might want to do this yourself online. It's a minefield for the unwary and our advice would be to seek specialist advice. Very often independent financial advisers and mortgage brokers make their living from finding the best deals out there. Not all of them are good. We have contacts in this area if you require it.
Once you've found a suitable lender, you'll need a "decision in principle" from them. This is usually as a result of a brief application made and the lender gives a decision based on key facts. It is not a mortgage offer so does not mean that they are bound to lend to you once a formal application is made. It is however a good indication to you (and the seller of a house) that you can afford it.
Choose your home carefully
The best advice we can give you is to look at as many houses as possible. Go online and search information sites such as www.rightmove.co.uk. Get a feel for what you like and of course what you don't like. There are so many houses out there that it will be problematic to find one house that fits your criteria exactly. Also, your dream home may not even be on the market. Also, don't disregard houses that look dreary. If you've ever watched TV in the last few years then you'll have seen the amazing makeovers that can be done. It's not for everyone though!
Also check the location of the property you are buying in. Remember the saying "location, location, location". This will affect the price you pay and ultimately the price you can sell for in years to come. Factors such as schools, transport routes etc all have an effect so choose carefully. Again, go online and carry out as much research for information as possible to avoid problems down the line.
Make an offer
We believe that there is also a house for everyone! You may think that the asking price is what you must pay for the property. That may be the case if the property is particularly desirable and there has been alot of interest in it. If however the seller is keen to sell, you should consider making a reduced offer. There is never any guarantee but unless you ask, you may never know! Pitching the offer too low though is likely to offend so always bear this in mind to avoid any problems here.
So you've found your home and the offer has been accepted. Great. You now need to get on with your formal application for a mortgage. The forms are nearly always lengthy and require you to provide alot of information. There is a very good reason for that. The bank needs to ensure that their investment in you is secure. They will be looking at ensuring that you are good for the money and that the property is one which will represent a sound investment for them. After all, if you don't repay the mortgage, the bank will want to reposess the property and sell it to repay the loan.
Once the mortgage application is lodged it will be checked. If everything is satisfactory they will instruct a surveyor to value the property. This is done for the lender's benefit - not yours. Many people make the mistake of simply relying on the bank's valuation as confirmation that the property is sound. This may not necessarily be the case. The valuation will have been carried out by a brief look at the property and its surrounding area.
Unless you are buying a newly built home (which is backed by an NHBC or similar guarantee), our suggestion would be to obtain a homebuyer's valuation. This usually costs around £350 but is usually money well spent. First of all, it is done for your benefit. This means that if you find that there was an error made in the report which causes you financial loss, you may be able to make a claim. Secondly, the report is more thorough than a mere valuation. It should uncover most things although it will not cover everything.
If the property is particularly old, say over 100 years of age or you think there may be structural issues (i.e. cracks running up the walls inside and/or outside) then a full structural survey is advisable. This is more expensive as you can probably imagine (around £750) but again we think money well spent.
Once you've agreed to sell or buy your new home, you'll need to find a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor to deal with the conveyancing service for you fast.
You would be forgiven for opting for the cheapest or lowest priced solicitor you can find or one that offers great discounts. After all, don't they all just offer the same fast conveyancing service? Wrong! Don't forget you are after all about to make the biggest investment of your life and money is perhaps in short supply. You should always ask many questions before making your choice of conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor. Is the firm experienced in offering conveyancing services? Do they offer a quality conveyancing service? Do they offer national coverage? Will they do it fast? This doesn't however mean that the most expensive conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor will give you the best or indeed fastest conveyancing service. Confused?
We can take care of the conveyancing service for you. It's fast as it usually takes somewhere around 6 and 8 weeks from receipt of a draft contract to completion compared to the national average of about three months. This does depend on everyone else in the chain moving fast though as well.
For a more detailed look at this, click here.
Once you've set a moving date, you should contact at least three removal companies to help you move house. If you leave this too late, you're unlikely to be in a good position to choose the best removals company. In fact, there is probably a very good reason why a company can move you at short notice!
Always ask for a quote and details of client testimonials. This cuts down on the chances of choosing a removals firm that is poor. Speak to the removals company. Ask lots of questions. If you don't feel comfortable - try someone else. At the end of the day, you are inviting their employees into your home, and entrusting your home to them. It is probably too late when a rusty van turns up with someone that looks as if they haven't lifted anything heavier than a coffee table before!
Remember, price isn't everything. There is an old saying which goes along the lines of "pay peanuts and you'll get monkeys!". However, that's not to say that the most expensive will necessarily offer you the best service. If you can get a recommendation, this will again cut down the chances of you being ripped off or using an unreputable removals company. Also watch out for cancellation charges in the contract. They can be quite a nasty surprise unless you look out for them.
Make sure that a proper inventory (list of items in your house) is drawn up. A copy of this should be given to the removals company. It may be required later!
Don't forget to enquire whether the removals company offers insurance. It is always wise to invest in this. You'll need to find out what the insurance covers and perhaps more importantly, what is doesn't cover. Also look out for any excess on the policy. However, don't forget that your existing household insurance may already cover this so don't waste money unecessarily.
The timing of the move is critical. You should liaise with your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor to seek advice as to when keys are likely to be made available. This is more than likely going to be after 3.00 p.m. so don't make the mistake (as many do) of expecting to be able to move in first thing in the morning otherwise you'll have a long wait!