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Movelawyer Guides

Read through our guides where you will find useful guidance and advice

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a House?

02-03-2018

It’s all too easy to forget something important during the property transaction process, so make sure you ask yourself these ten questions before you sign the dotted line!

 

1. Do you understand the key terms?

Getting to grips with house buying terminology before you make an offer is a good idea because it can help make the transaction faster and smoother.

2. What’s the cost of buying?

The expenditure incurred by buying a property is not limited to the deposit; other costs include paying stamp duty, conducting a house survey, appointing conveyancing solicitors, hiring a removal company and perhaps furnishing your new house. It is important to take into consideration these ‘extra’ costs when deciding your budget.

3. Have you sold yet?

It is nearly always more lucrative to sell before you buy, so it is a good idea to have your own property on the market before you begin shopping online for a new house. It might be easier said than done, but it is definitely important to not fall in love with a house before you have a buyer otherwise you may lose your dream-house to someone who has the funds ready.

4. Do you have a mortgage ‘agreement in principle’?

An ‘agreement in principle’ (AIP) is a written statement confirming how much you can borrow from your lender. Having an AIP increases your likelihood of securing the house you have made an offer on as it shows the seller that you are a serious buyer and have the necessary finances.

5. Have you viewed the property at different times?

A quiet and cosy house at 10 AM can be filled with music blaring from the neighbours at 8 PM in the evening, so it is a good idea to view your potential new house on numerous occasions and at varying times of the day.

6. Have you checked out the neighbourhood?

Location, location, location! We highly recommend that you check out the neighbourhood before you commit to a property. This can involve talking to the local residents, going to local parks, shops and cafes, checking out local schools, and even Government’s Planning Portal to find out if any large-scale building works are planned that could possibly lower your enjoyment of the area and affect the price of your desired house in future.

7. Have you done your research on how much to offer?

You can get an idea of what would constitute a reasonable offer for your desired house by using online property searches (e.g. Rightmove and Zoopla) to find out how much similar properties in the local area have sold for or are currently on the market for. If you’re looking for an opportunity to renegotiate on the purchase price, the findings outlined in the report from your house survey might prove useful as it will indicate any structural problems and their cost of repair. You can also choose to have a valuation included in the survey in order to ensure that you are not offering more than the property’s market value.

8. Have you asked the seller to take it off the market?

When making an offer for your desired property, you can make the offer on the condition that the house is taken off the market. This is highly recommended as it prevents you being ‘gazumped’ – someone else makes a higher offer than you and the homeowner sells them the property despite already accepting your offer

9. Are you using only professionals?

You will need to employ a conveyancing solicitor to deal with the paperwork and legal aspects of the property transaction, a surveyor to survey the property, and a removals company to ensure the safety of your belongings when moving into your new house. While it may be tempting to view the Mortgage Valuation as sufficient, it is important that you commission an independent survey from a RICS surveyor for a thorough inspection of the condition of your desired property. At movelawyer.co.uk we only partner with respected and highly experienced companies so you can be confident in your choice of professionals.

10. Are you communicating?

Make sure that you’re communicating during the property transaction process; ask questions on anything you’re not sure about, keep up to date with the progress of the process, and make sure that you’re reachable – it isn’t advised to go on holiday between putting an offer down on a house and the completion date.

 

One last tip: Enjoy your new house!

 

# before buying a house, questions to ask

What You Need to Know About Exchanging House Contracts?

07-02-2018

There are many stages within the process of purchasing a house, but it is only after the exchanging of contracts that you are under a legal obligation to purchase the house and will be required to pay for any costs which were incurred by the home-seller. By exchanging contracts, the buyer and seller both commit themselves legally to the sale of the property, and failure to complete by the agreed date can be costly.

By the time you reach the stage of exchanging contracts, your conveyancing lawyer should have carried out three main searches for your new home.

Local Authority Search

This search usually consists of two parts:

-Checking the local land charges register – This will inform you as to whether your desired property is a listed building, has trees with a preservation order, or is in a conservation area or a smoke control zone.

Searching for cautionary elements about the property – Elements such as compulsory purchase orders, proposed tree preservation orders, plans to build a motorway near the property, or disputes over the land or boundaries.

2. Water Drainage Search

-This search will provide details such as whether your desired house is connected to: a public or private water supply, private disposal facilities, a septic tank, or a public sewer. It will also outline how the property is billed for its water supply and wastewater disposal – either rateable value or water meter. If the property is near to or affected by water mains or public sewers, the report will also confirm this.

3. Environmental Search

-This is carried out by a specialist company that will check whether the land is likely to be contaminated (as defined by the Environmental Protection Act 1990) and that there are no known environmental hazards to the property, e.g. flood risk.

It is imperative that you have searches carried out on your desired property because you are duty bound to know of any restrictions and planning issues which relate to the property. When your property lawyer returns to you their findings, if you are content with the information they provide, they will draw up a contract and you will be able to arrange dates for the exchanging of contracts and for completion.

Before contracts are exchanged, it would be a good idea for you to obtain an independent survey on your property in order to reveal any fundamental problems with its structure (such as woodworm or damp). Although your mortgage lender will expect you to pay for a mortgage valuation, you should not view this as sufficient for ascertaining the condition of your desired home because this valuation only allows the lender to know whether it will get its money back if you default on the mortgage payments.

You should consider having an independent survey from a RICS chartered surveyor, and here at movelawyer.co.uk, we can provide you with instant survey quotes from reliable surveyors in the Midlands who have been accredited by the RICS.

If there are any issues raised by your surveyor, you will need to discuss them with the seller of the property. There are two conventional routes available: they either agree to accept a lower offer price from you, or they carry out the necessary repairs as a condition of the sale. If you both choose the latter, it is a good idea to have this agreement confirmed in writing as part of your legal contract.

So long as your lender is happy with their mortgage valuation, you can expect to receive a formal mortgage offer, and this will include the full details of the loan. There is a lot of technical terminology in the terms of agreement, and your conveyancing lawyer can help you read through the contract and explain any areas you don’t understand.

At the point of exchanging the contracts, you will also need to pay your deposit on the property – this is usually 20-25% of the purchase price. After the contracts have been exchanged and the deposit paid, you are legally committed to purchasing the property and to the agreed terms of the seller. At this stage, your conveyancing lawyer will also help to arrange buildings insurance for the property as you are now legally responsible for it.

There is also additional information available from Land Registry.

 

 

# exchanging house contracts, local search

Conveyancing: What You Need to Know?

30-08-2017

Conveyancing is the legal transfer of a property from one owner to another, and an experienced property lawyer is needed to help guide you through the process. As a home-buyer, your conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer will act on your behalf and ensure that you receive the title deeds to the property and its surrounding land.

Conveyancing encompasses all of the legal and administrative work that is needed to ensure that a house purchase is valid under law.

Standard Conveyancing Practice

It’s only once contracts have been exchanged between the buyer and the seller that a house purchase is legally binding. Prior to the exchange of contracts, both parties are able to withdraw from the transaction: even after accepting a (potential) buyer’s offer, the homeowner can sell the property to someone else who makes a higher offer; and even after having an offer they made accepted, the buyer can withdraw their offer without being required to pay for any costs incurred by the home-seller. At the exchange of contracts, a deposit – usually 10% of the purchase price – is required; if you decide to pull out of the house transaction after the exchange of contracts, you may lose the deposit you paid.

What Will Your Conveyancer Do for You?

Technically, you could deal with your own conveyancing, but it is a detailed and complicated legal process which we recommend be left in the hands of a qualified and experienced property lawyer. The tasks completed by your conveyancing lawyer include:

- Liaising with the homeowner’s solicitor in order to receive a contract pack

- Requesting and obtaining a copy of your mortgage offer

- Carrying out the required ‘searches’ for your desired property, and analysing the results of these searches

- Arranging the exchanging of contracts and the setting of a completion date between you and the home-seller

- Transferring the signed transfer deeds to the home-seller’s conveyancer

- Requesting payment of the mortgage advance from your lender

- Transferring the deposit to the seller’s conveyancer

- Submitting a tax return and paying the required Stamp Duty Land Tax to HMRC

- Forwarding the documentation concerning the ownership-transfer to the Land Registry

- Forwarding the title deeds to your mortgage lender

How to Find a Good Conveyancing Lawyer?

Buying a house is likely to be one of the biggest and most important financial transactions you will make in your life, so it is crucial that you hire an experienced and qualified property lawyer for your conveyancing. At movelawyer.co.uk, we only partner with property lawyers who have been regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) or the Council of Licensed Conveyancers. When you receive your quote from movelawyer.co.uk, you can rest assured that the conveyancers and conveyancing solicitors we recommend are professional and experienced.

 

 

# conveyancing, what you need to know

What’s a Home Survey and Why Do I Need One?

16-08-2017

Buying a house is likely to be one of the biggest and most important financial transactions you will make in your life. It is crucial that you to seek advice from an experienced and qualified property surveyor so that you can rest assured that the property you are purchasing is a sound financial investment.

Having to add unexpected repair costs – which can quickly prove to be expensive and time consuming – to your property purchase expenditures is the last thing you want. By getting a house survey from a chartered surveyor, you will receive expert advice on the structural nature of the property and will be made aware of any faults with the house; this will aid you in your decision to proceed with the purchase.

Mortgage Valuation vs. Chartered Survey

Although a mortgage valuation will be carried out by the lender, it is important to remember that this valuation is solely for their benefit as it ensures that the property is worth what is being paid for it and, hence, that the mortgage will be secure. A mortgage valuation is not sufficient for you as a buyer because it will not inform you of any structural issues with the property that could be costly for you to fix and, hence, would influence the offer you make on the house – if you should make one at all.

Your chartered surveyor could spot construction or condition problems in the form of dry rot, damp, cracked chimneys etc. Minimising the risks by utilising a chartered surveyor’s local knowledge and technical expertise is a worthy investment to make during your property purchase as you commit yourself legally and financially to your desired house.

Types of Surveys

Home surveys are regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and there are three types of home surveys available for buyers to choose from:

1. Condition Report

Recommended only for relatively new properties which are conventionally constructed, this is a basic condition survey that will identify only the significant or urgent property defects.

2. HomeBuyer Report

As well as outlining any defects or issues that could affect the value of the property, this survey includes recommendations for repair or maintenance and will advise on how urgently these repairs are needed.

3. Building Survey

This survey identifies all the defects in the property, comments on what they could mean and the possible costs of remedial work. The most detailed report available, it is highly recommended for buyers purchasing an older or run-down house, or a house on which they plan to perform extensive renovations or conversions. With this type of survey, your surveyor will also offer you advice on how to maintain and prevent possible future damages to the property.

It is advised that you search for a chartered surveyor in the region in which you are buying a house. At movelawyer.co.uk, we supply instant survey quotes from reliable surveyors in the Midlands who have been accredited by the RICS.

Advice on Repair Work

If you are buying a particularly old house, you may wish to choose a chartered surveyor that specialises in older properties. If you are planning to make any alterations or conversions to the house, your surveyor will also be qualified to advise you concerning this matter and is likely to have knowledge of local planning issues related to your desired property and its surrounding land. If your chosen survey type is the Building Survey, the survey will be tailored to your individual property and the plans you have outlined for it.

Opportunity to Renegotiate Price

If there are any issues raised by your surveyor, you will need to enter into discussion with the seller of the property. There are two conventional routes available: they either agree to accept a lower offer price from you, or they carry out the necessary repairs as a condition of the sale. In the case of the latter, such an agreement would require a legal contract and would need to be confirmed in writing. Whichever route you decide to take, your RICS survey report will provide you with the expert information needed to negotiate confidently.

Peace of Mind

A house survey should prevent you from having any nasty and expensive structural surprises once you move into your new home. It is your responsibility as the buyer to organise a detailed and independent survey in order to see if there are any structural or construction issues with the property.

# home survey explained, why do you need one

Buying at an Auction: A First-Time Buyer’s Guide

16-08-2017

Although it requires extra effort, buying a repossessed home at auction can be a more affordable way of getting on the property ladder because property auctions can offer value for money to first-buyers. Here are 7 pieces of advice to help you get started.

Do your research

Before taking your first step into the world of property auctions, arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. The auction houses in the area you are looking to buy will probably have mailing lists, and signing up to them is a good idea. There are auctioneers’ websites online which have legal packs of properties available; browse the internet for these sites and download the packs that catch your eye.

If you know anyone that has purchased property at an auction before, it’s worth asking them about their experience because they could have helpful advice to pass on to you.

It’s also a good idea to go and see the auction process at least once before you go there intending to buy a property. A auction house can be a fairly competitive environment, and going for a visit in advance will make you more familiar with how the auction works and help you feel less out of your depth.

Find a mortgage

Most people need a mortgage in order to finance a property purchase, and if you fall into this category, it would be sensible for you to begin arranging this as soon as possible and ideally before you find your potential house. We recommend that you get a mortgage ‘agreement in principle’ as this will help you in three ways:

1. You can set your budget and know which properties you can afford

2. You will be able to bid with confidence because you know that you have the funds to back you up

3. Once you do make the winning bid, you’ll be able to get things moving quickly

A requirement of the auction process is that your lender is able to complete within 20 days, so it is important that you get a mortgage deal where the lender can do so.

View the property and appoint a surveyor

Make sure you visit any property that you are considering purchasing, and, if possible, do so at different times of day so you can make sure that it is truly right for you. It is crucial that you hire a charted surveyor to look at your desired property for you because they will be able to alert you to any structural issues with the house and also provide you with an independent opinion on the true value of the property; with this information, you can confidently choose what your maximum bid will be.

Be prepared for some DIY

When purchasing any house, there are likely to be some things you want to change, but buying a repossessed property greatly increases the likelihood that you’ll need to do some work in order to get the house into top condition. The good thing is that any renovations you make are likely to add value to your home, and you can determine a budget for your restoration work by asking your chartered surveyor whether the property is likely to have a maximum price (e.g. due to location).

Appoint a conveyancing solicitor

Make sure that you use a reliable property lawyer as your conveyancing solicitor will examine the legal pack in order to ensure that the property is not unmarketable and that there aren’t any problems which could cause issues when you later wish to sell the property. There are law firms which specialise in speedy transactions, so tell your conveyancer that you will be buying at auction and have them tailor their service to suit your needs.

At movelawyer.co.uk, we provide you with instant conveyancing quotes, and we only partner with conveyancing solicitors who have been regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) or the Council of Licensed Conveyancers. When you receive your quote from movelawyer.co.uk, you can rest assured that the conveyancers and conveyancing solicitors that we recommend are professional and experienced.

Stick to your budget

The auction atmosphere can often be competitive and pressured and may tempt you to spend more than you planned, but one of the most important rules of auction bidding is that you never bid beyond your means. Sticking to your budget and not allowing your emotions to rule you in the moment will ensure that you can afford to put down the 10% deposit you will need at the end of the auction.

Remember…

It is possible that not every property at the auction ended up there due to repossession as some homeowners choose to sell at auction in order to have a quick transaction. Although it is possible to save money by buying at auction, not every auctioned property will automatically be a bargain.

# Buyers guide, buying at an auction

What Are Conveyancing Searches?

16-08-2017

If you are going to buy a property, your conveyancing solicitor will carry out searches with the local authority and other parties on your behalf.

These searches are enquiries which uncover additional information about your desired property and typically include aspects such as the quality of the ground which the property is built on and the details of water supply and wastewater disposal facilities. The searches carried out by your conveyancing lawyer could potentially highlight planning or structural issues that could affect the property’s value or incur repair costs in future, so they need to be carried out before you exchange contracts with the home-seller and legally commit yourself to purchasing the property.

 

Local Authority Search

This search usually consists of two parts:

- Checking the local land charges register – This will inform you as to whether your desired property is a listed building, has tress with a preservation order, or is in a conservation area or a smoke control zone.

- Searching for cautionary elements about the property – Elements such as compulsory purchase orders, proposed tree preservation orders, plans to build a motorway near the property, or disputes over the land or boundaries.

Each Local Authority has a different set of fees, and Local Authority Search costs can be fixed or unfixed, so it is important that you check this in your conveyancing quotes.

 

Water, Drainage and Other Property Searches

These searches will provide details such as whether your desired house is connected to: a public or private water supply, private disposal facilities, a septic tank, or a public sewer. It will also outline how the property is billed for its water supply and wastewater disposal – either rateable value or water meter. If the property is near to or affected by water mains or public sewers, the report will also confirm this. It is highly recommended that you apply to the local water company responsible for your desired property and ask them for confirmation that they are responsible for maintaining the property’s drains, sewers and piping.

 

Environmental Search

This is carried out by a specialist company that will check whether the land is likely to be contaminated (as defined by the Environmental Protection Act 1990) and that there are no known environmental hazards to the property, e.g. flood risk and landslips.

 

Although the three searches listed above are those typically carried out, depending on the location of your desired property, your conveyancer could recommend that you carry out some of the following non-routine searches:

- Commons registration – This search should be carried out if you are buying agricultural land, property in a rural area, or property which borders with common land or a village green

- Mining search – This search is required if your desired property is situated in an area of previous or current mining history as this puts it at risk of being built on unstable ground

- Land charges – If you are dealing with unregistered land, this search should be carried out, detailing any bankruptcy proceedings attributed to the owner of the land. If there are any restrictions on the use of land, estate contracts and mortgages, this search will also highlight this.

- Chancel repair liability – If you buy and live in a property within the parish of a parochial church council, you may be liable to contribute towards the cost of repairs to the church. Since October 2013, all parochial church councils in England and Wales have identified and registered any land bound to chancel repair liability; this information is kept by the Land Registry and stored on the Title Register database.

- It’s quite probable that your conveyancing search will flag up things about your desired property that you had not previously considered, so it is very important that you discuss the results of the search with your conveyancing lawyer. It is also a good idea to seek the opinion of others who have knowledge of the buying process and the local area.

 

Buying a house is likely to be one of the biggest and most important financial transactions you will make in your life, so it is crucial that you hire an experienced and qualified property lawyer for your conveyancing. At movelawyer.co.uk, we only partner with property lawyers who have been regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) or the Council of Licensed Conveyancers. When you receive your quote from movelawyer.co.uk, you can rest assured that the conveyancers and conveyancing solicitors we recommend are professional and experienced.

 

 

# Conveyancing searches, what are property searches