We realise it can be stressful spending a huge sum of money when you don't really know what is happening, or if you are unsure of what the next steps are. Our tips will help put you in control and will make buying your home the great adventure it should be.
Not all conveyancers/solicitors charge the same. Neither are their services identical. At the budget end of the spectrum, there are firms whose charges are fixed regardless of the purchase price. Be warned though, cheapest is not always best!
Choosing a conveyancer
Buying a property is one of the biggest transactions that many people make in their lives. Always ask your conveyancer for an estimate of his/her costs before instructing them to work for you and remember you often get what you pay for. The best way to find a good conveyancer is through recommendation. Personal recommendation by friends, or by other property professionals such as (if you know and trust them) your mortgage advisor or estate agent. Prospect Residential are conscious of which solicitors perform and continually, to work closely with those who deliver the best service coupled with excellent local knowledge.
Where I’m buying or local to me?
Selecting a solicitor whose office is close to where you are purchasing can sometimes be beneficial. Local knowledge can on occasion prove invaluable and prevent you from making an expensive mistake. On the other hand choosing a local conveyancer to where you currently live allows you to visit them and deliver documents/deposit etc by hand; where speed is of the essence this can be most helpful. Just make the choice that suits you best.
Please visit our Mortgage page for details of our recommended advisors.
Look out for up-and-coming areas such as those for which new travel links are planned. There are literally dozens of recent examples of how planned travel links have helped property prices in those areas outpace the rest of the country.
Schools can also be important to your family, use this link to check out those that are local to where you might like to live. Annual league tables of school exam performances are available on the www.bbc.co.uk/education web site.
Where you work will heavily influence where you will want to live. Each of our property details features a map facility which allows you to plan your journey to or from the property location. For more information on local public transport follow this link http://www.tfl.gov.uk/
New or Old?
Whether you buy a new or old home depends largely on personal choice. Although new homes can often be 5-10% more expensive than second-hand homes of a similar size, there can be some strong reasons for buying new. For example
(a) There should be no question of having to change windows or kitchen or bath equipment for many years.
(b) Central heating and wiring systems etc should be bang up-to-date.
(c) There are no chains involved.
(d) Also modern building regulations require high standards of energy efficiency - so fuel bills should remain comparatively low forever.
On the negative side, new homes tend now to have very small rooms - squeezing in two bedrooms where once there would have been one. Land values dictate the need to squeeze as many homes as possible onto a given area of land.
Older Homes can feature:
(a) More Character
(b) Many have larger rooms and higher ceilings
(c) Tend to be more individual – not on estates.
On the negative side, older homes can be draughty, will require more upkeep and many may possibly be more expensive to run.
Leasehold or Freehold?
If you are looking to buy a flat or maisonette, then you will almost certainly buy a leasehold property.
When you buy the leasehold interest in a property you are buying a contract to occupy it for a specific length of time. Buy Freehold, and your purchase could be forever - if you live that long. Most leases are for an initial term, usually of 99 years or 125 years but sometimes 999 years. For many shorter-term leases that have been running a while, there may be issues to consider, such as: is there sufficient time left in the lease for a mortgage lender to consider the property suitable security? How long do you intend living there?
If the residents themselves own the Freehold interest (usually through a company of which each would be a director), then the length of the lease becomes much less of an issue because at the end of the term they can simply grant themselves a lease extension or lease renewal.
Recent legislation makes it possible for groups of residents to combine and form their own company and buy the Freehold interest from the landlord – effectively becoming their own landlord. This is generally a highly desirable thing to do in these circumstances.
The definitive resource for finding property to buy. We maintain our website daily allowing you to keep a close eye on property movements in the area in which you are seeking. We also have the benefit of additional links from our website. Please feel free to e-mail us with other suggested links. The links shown below would be a good place to start.
The main resource for home-hunters and sellers alike. In a very busy market houses are often sold simply by making a telephone call. Agents who operate this way may not be exposing their clients’ properties to a market that’s wide enough to achieve the best price for their vendor. And they certainly won’t help you find a suitable property to buy unless you are one of the people they contact. If an agent is not mailing you when suitable property comes to the market, then hassle them so that your name will be on top of their call-list!
In a fast-moving market, estate agency advertised homes are sometimes sold prior to the advertisements being printed. Classified ads and estate agency ads need to be read every week if you are using these as your only means of locating a property to buy.
A useful indicator of homes that are for sale, but do remember that many sellers have a dislike of boards and many developments have head leases preventing them to be erected outside of their properties. Consequently, if you rely only upon boards then you might miss the ideal property. We advise using boards in conjunction with the other methods if you want to make certain that you have the best opportunity when the perfect home comes onto the market.
Questions to ask
Don’t be frightened to ask questions. Homeowners are often better placed than agents to answer some of these – only the owner can tell you what the neighbours are like or how bad the traffic really is. Here are some of the things you might want to know about. Remember that an agent answering a question must be honest. It is a criminal offence for an agent to say, write or otherwise imply any information that might be misleading.
Why is the owner selling?
How long has the property been on the market?
Has there been a survey?
Do you know of any structural problems?
What work has been done to the house? When? Do you have guarantees/receipts?
If there has been structural work, did they need/obtain Building Regulations Consent?
Particularly if they extended, did they check whether planning consent was needed and did they check whether they might have breached any covenants by extending? Did they obtain Building Regulations consent?
What is being left – carpets/curtains/kitchen equipment etc?
When will the property be vacant? Has the owner found somewhere to move to?
What are the neighbours like?
Have there been any other offers?
What is the Council Tax band?
What are the running costs?
Never take it for granted that extras like carpets & curtains are to be included in a sale, always ask.
If the property has been on the market for some time and is slightly over your budget, don’t be frightened to try a lower offer. The seller can only say no – or yes!
Make what you feel is an appropriate offer – if you offer too low, then the seller might not feel inclined to allow a second offer. Be realistic and ensure you try to research comparable property.
If you are offering to the limit of your budget, then say so – but only if you mean it!