Buying and Selling your Home
The sale and/or purchase of property tend to go hand in hand but it is always worth considering even before the property is on the market what to do if you get that offer and what steps need to be taken to successfully proceed to completion. This article is equally applicable to the first time buyer as it is to the experienced home mover. As in many areas, preparation is the key to success.
Preparing to Sell
Before you enter the market
Consider the following tips:
- Timing – Spring (February – March) and Autumn (September) are the key times to sell your property when traditionally demand outstrips supply and therefore prices are usually at their most buoyant.
- De-Clutter and De-Personalise – Potential buyers need to imagine themselves living in your house, so get rid of ornaments and personal photographs. Minimise – put your things including large furniture into storage. Pay particular care to the the hallway, the bathroom (hide all your products) and the kitchen (clear the surfaces of appliances, jars, tins, etc).
- Freshen Up – a fresh coat of neutral paint, new tiling or carpets and a couple of new kitchen doors can do wonders to smarten up a tired-looking property.
- Clean Up – it is still essential that the house be spotless. Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms but include the garden.
Instructing an Estate Agent
Always try to get 3 agents round to value your property. Don’t necessarily go for the one with the highest valuation, or the one that you may also buy through. Often the high valuation is to induce you to sign a long sole agency agreement but in a couple of weeks that same agent will advise you to reduce the price because of lack of interest (i.e. the price was too high in the first place). Lowering your asking price does not always assist you in the market so before accepting what the agents say do your own homework – use the internet ( e.g. mouse price, zoopla) to find out what the market is like and what similar properties have sold for recently. Challenge the agent on their figures.
Many agents will also often try to tie you into a 12-week exclusive contract – negotiate the minimum time possible, so that if you are not happy with the service, you can change or go multi-agency. You’ll want someone you can relate to personally and who is very active in the local market. Always try to negotiate on agents’ fees and ensure you have the final fee agreed in writing.
Estate Agents’ fees are cheaper if you sell sole-agency rather than multi-agency. Therefore it is often better to start with one sole agent for a period of at least 4 weeks giving them the best chance (and motivation) to sell your property fast. If this does not produce a result then you can consider swapping agent or trying the multi agency route.
Always opt for the board up option with the agent.
Instructing your conveyancing solicitors or lawyers on your sale
This is where we (hopefully) come in. Preparation is key, so it’s a good idea to instruct your solicitor to do your conveyancing early. We can send you the forms and obtain copies of your title deeds so that a draft contract is ready to sent whenever a buyer is found. But you also need to dig out copies of all planning and building regulations consents, guarantees, FENSA, Gas Safety and other certificates relating to your property. These may seem like minor matters but often the buyers lawyer will not exchange without sight of such documents and if missing they can hold up exchange.
Don’t be pushed into accepting the lawyers recommended by or who work closely or fast with the agent because of their “relationship” with them – often this is no more than another sales pitch by the agent who will get paid by the recommended lawyer for every new client. In some cases the relationship stems from the fact the law firm is even part of the same group or company (for example Bairstow Eves and Abbotts are required to recommend Countrywide Property Lawyers part of the same group). Because of the referral or shared fees the costs you pay for the lawyer is often higher than if you came to us and obtained a quote directly. These firms are often not ones the agent would recommend if there was a real choice.
What are the costs of selling your home?
The costs associated with a sale are relatively straightforward and easy to quantify. From the sale price you will deduct:
- your mortgage amount taking care to include any redemption penalties (unless these are being ported to the new mortgage on your purchase)
- your estate agents fees. Remember the agents never seem to warn you about VAT being added to their percentage fee (1%, 1.5%, 2% or what ever rate you agree). It will however be in their small print.This will increase the cost by 20% which is the current VAT rate.
- your legal or conveyancing fees – please see our conveyancing quote site for an instant conveyancing fee calculation – www.convey-quote.co.uk .
- if the property is leasehold there will also be a adjustment of the ground rent and service charge meaning any arrears will be paid off from the sale proceeds and any credit paid in advance will be collected from the buyer.
Tying in a purchase or vacating early?
Given the current economic climate, many sellers are opting to hold off buying until their sale has completed – either moving into rented accommodation or back in with parents. Whilst there are significant advantages to this approach many sellers find that the rental market is not as flexible as they might have wanted – generally all property is let for a minimum period of 6 months and for some people finding properties which will accept the family pet or smokers narrows the market considerably. You may also find that the rental property is smaller that your present home and additional storage is required. All of these costs together with the double move add up. Even living back with parents – does cause strain also especially when the period is not as temporary as you would have wanted.
However if you are moving to a new area renting often gives you the time to familiarise yourself to the area and discover whether it is where you would want a permanent home. Being in temporary accommodation also puts you in a very good position when making offers and negotiating on your new home – not only are you a “non-dependent” buyer but also you often can be flexible with the dates.
Preparing to Buy
One of the essential components of your purchase is sorting out how it will be financed. Will you able to meet the cost of the new property from sale proceeds of an existing one, or do you have available capital? If not then you will most likely need to take a mortgage out over the property and it is important that mortgage funding is in place before you make an offer.
Before you approach your mortgage adviser you need to have an idea of what you need to borrow. For this you need to know the costs of selling and the costs of buying. The sale costs are noted above. The purchase legal costs however can be more complicated to calculate because of the stamp duty, searches and other fees which need to factored in. You can use our fee calculator to work out these costs – www.convey-quote.co.uk. This has been calculated using the search fees for the Havering area search i.e. covering Romford Upminster and Hornchurch where we are based but we can act outside these areas – just email us for a specific quote.
To this figure you will need to factor in the mortgage application fee, survey fee,removal costs as well as the cost of any works you need or wish to do to the new property.
It is wise to speak with an independent mortgage advisor (IFA) or your existing lender to find out what level of borrowing is available and what conditions might be attached to that borrowing. The IFA should be offer advice on the whole mortgage market whereas your existing lender will normally only provide options in relation to their own products and you will not receive “advice” even though you may see a”mortgage adviser” at your branch.
In general the assessment criteria is tougher the higher the loan to value so if you are borrowing near your limit it is essentially to check your figures first. However even in the current economic climate we are seeing some 90% loan to value mortgages available, although more attractive deals are offered with a larger deposit. Assuming you do meet the initial criteria, you will receive an agreement in principle confirming that the lender will consider lending to you at a stipulated rate, based on the information you have provided. However, this is not confirmation that the mortgage is in place, as the lender will need to carry out to carry out a full assessment before a formal offer of loan is issued.
Finding the right property
It may seem obvious but before making an offer consider carefully whether this is the right property for you.
- Always visit the property on more than once, preferably at different times of the day.
- What is the area like – drive around and check on line for information.
- Is there parking – if on the road what is is like at different times of day, are they permits/restrictions.
- Is the garden facing in the right direction – south facing is best.
- What are the schools like – check the Ofsted reports.
- How long is your commute likely to take – make sure you test is at rush hour.
- If the property needs upgrading and modernisation get a builder to give an estimate.
- Ask the sellers about the property and why they are moving. Ask about the neighbours and problems – if the property is a repossession or the owner has died – speak to the neighbours.
- If you are buying alone take along a friend or family member to give a second opinion.
Instructing your conveyancing solicitors or lawyers on your purchase
This is where we (hopefully) come in again. Again it is important to have your solicitor lined up to progress with the purchase – you can mention in your offer that you have your legal representative ready to proceed. This may convince the seller you are a ‘serious’ buyer. We provide detailed written quotes – see www.convey-quote.co.uk and can assist you if you have any queries.
We have over 60 years experience in the Havering area in dealing with buying and selling property. We are part of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme.
We attach the Legal Ombudsman guide “Using a conveyancing lawyer: Ten helpful tips” for your information.
Making your offer
Market conditions dictate the level of the offer you need to make. If there is competition for the property it may be worth making an offer which beats the competition but later on when the survey is received you will have the opportunity of reducing the price if the valuer discovers faults or indicates the property is overvalued.
Get a proper survey
Once the offer is accepted we always recommend carrying out a full survey as quickly as possible. Remember the seller is selling ‘as seen’ so ‘buyer beware’ i.e. any faults with the property are yours to rectify after you complete whether you know about them or not. If the property has major faults then it is often better to walk away from the deal at an early stage. But a survey can also help you renegotiate on the price if there are minor faults like damp or woodworm and also ensures that you are not paying over the top for the property if the asking price is out of kilter with the ‘market value’.
There is more to selling and buying a new home than just acquiring the bricks and mortar. This is not intended to be a complete guide but it gives you a flavour of the matters you need to consider. If we can help you with this process please get in touch. For further information on residential conveyancing quotes for buying or selling please call Mark Sadler on 01708 757575 or email email@example.com.