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Ask the Estate Agent
8 minutes | Sep 16, 2019
What information must a seller legally declare?
Dreaming about moving into your new home only to discover you have noisy neighbours, non-stop traffic whizzing past, or next-to-no wi-fi signal? Here’s how to do your research… Whether you are looking for a new home to buy or rent, you’ll want to be sure that it’s a relaxing and enjoyable place to live. But what if you move in only to discover that you’re living next to the neighbours from hell? Or the incessant noise from the road drives you crazy? Or that there’s planning permission for an industrial project right on your doorstep? Here we look at the information that a seller or landlord is legally required to give you – as well as the stuff that it is ‘good manners’ for them to pass on to you. So firstly lets look at Sellers are legally required to declare certain information If you are buying your new home, the seller is required to disclose certain pieces of information to you – and if they fail to do so, they could end up in court. For example, a seller must tell you about a ‘defective title’ if there is no way you could reasonably find out before exchanging contracts. This might, for example, include a right of way across the property that isn’t on the title deeds. What about the Seller’s Property Information Form? Sellers are also required to fill in a Property Information Form (or TA6) which gives the buyer lots of information that they would otherwise be unable to find out through surveys or the standard searches. This includes: Information on boundaries – including those between you and your neighbours Details of any disputes or complaints with neighbours Notices of development or planning permission of properties nearby Alterations and building work ever done on the property (including details of planning permissions and building regulations approvals – or the absence of) Information about guarantees and warranties Buildings insurance details Information about environmental matters, such as flooding, energy efficiency and Japanese Knotweed. Details of rights and informal arrangements, such as access or shared use. Information about parking – including whether the property is in a controlled parking zone or local authority parking scheme. This form is part of the pre-contract documents, so it’s legally binding. This means that you, as the buyer, can make a claim for compensation if the seller deliberately tries to conceal something – even after the sale has gone through. Other information may be provided by the seller As part of the conveyancing process, the seller’s solicitor should provide certain additional information to your solicitor. This includes details such as where the gas and electricity meters and stopcock are located, and what fixtures and fittings will be left as part of the sale. However, there is certain information the seller’s solicitor is unlikely to provide, such as the strength of the phone signal and what day the bins are emptied. On these matters, the key is to collect the information yourself and don’t be afraid to ask those questions while you can. Landlords also have some legal obligations If you are renting, there are certain legal obligations on the landlord that can’t be ignored. This includes the safety of the electricity and gas supplies, fire safety throughout the property, protection of deposit funds, and the landlord’s responsibilities for maintenance and repair. In addition, there are certain issues which fall under the ‘Consumer Protection Regulations’. These include: Planning activity Off-road parking What furniture and other items are being left and Public rights of way – if a right of way goes through the grounds of the property These regulations are all-encompassing and require both landlords and agents to tell tenants all ‘material’ information necessary, in order for the tenant to make an informed decision. The law is...
15 minutes | Sep 9, 2019
What questions should I ask an estate agent when selling my home?
Making sure to ask estate agents the right questions before signing up to their services is vital when you’re selling your home. It will mean you’ll avoid any nasty surprises, such as unexpected fees or lengthy tie-in periods, and give you confidence that you’ll be able to sell as quickly as possible and for the best possible price. So here are the questions that every home seller should ask the estate agent: What are your fees? Typically, you’ll find estate agents charge a percentage of the sale price and they should state these inclusive of VAT and provide an example breakdown of the fee. For example, if you sell a property for £300,000, the fee may be 1% plus VAT, amounting to £3,600 (1.2%), including VAT. But you may find that percentage fees are far greater than this, depending on the agent, and can be as much or more than 2.5%. Check this is the only fee payable to the agent and that you won’t face paying this unless they successfully sell the property for you. What about other costs? Will you pay for a ‘For Sale’ board, for example, or professional photographs and floorplans? Find out any extras and any costs associated. Remember that you’ll need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before putting your house on the market and these are normally charged at around £60 – £120 pounds but check for your area and property size with your agent or local EPC surveyor as you can easily have these done yourself by a local EPC registered surveyor. What kind of contract do you use? Estate agents offer several different types of contract and it’s important to be aware of which you’re signing up to. Sole selling rights This is a fairly rigid form of contract, meaning that the particular estate agent you’re signing up to is the only one allowed to sell your home during the contract period. Even if you find your own buyer, you’ll have to pay the agency fees. Sole agency If you find your own buyer, you don’t fork out anything to the agent. But if you decide this agent is not working out and turn to another who then sells the property in the contract period, you are still tied into paying the first agent. Multiple agency These contracts allow you to market the property with several agents, but typically demand a higher fee. This was traditionally as a result of you having more exposure to potential buyers. Now with most buyers using a website such as Zoopla, the higher fee reflects the risk that Agent B might sell the property, so Agent A’s marketing goes unrewarded. What’s your tie-in period? An agent’s contract will often include a tie-in period, depending on the type of agreement you’re entering into. Typically, this spans around 12 weeks, with a 14-day notice period. If another agent sells the house during this time, you’ll have to stump up fees to two sets of agents. Tie-in periods can vary dramatically between agents, from zero weeks to 20, in some cases. How will you market my property? The most important thing is that the Estate Agent takes the time to listen to what you are looking to achieve and then discuss a marketing strategy that will achieve that goal. You also want to make sure the estate agent’s descriptions are honest and help point out the great features of the properties they are selling. The photographs are even more important. Prospective buyers are drawn in visually, so having high quality pictures is a must. Ask to see specific examples, or search online yourself for a better idea. For those reducing numbers not searching online, check how the agent will market the property in its local branches and local press. Again, ask for specific examples and think whether these would appeal to you if you were a buyer. How long do you take to sell properties like mine? There are a number of factors that can affect the time it takes to sell a property, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any insight. Ask for past examples...
12 minutes | Sep 2, 2019
How to negotiate the best price when buying a property
No matter what we buy, we all want to find the best price and clearly when buying a property this is one of the most important factors. Buying a home is the most expensive purchase you will ever make in your life, not to mention the most important, so it is essential that you find the best value for money deal. Given that there are two (at least) parties involved in a property deal, the buyer and seller, there is an opportunity to negotiate and arrange for a better deal. The seller is also likely to want to negotiate and obtain the best deal for themselves, but there are ways in which you can strengthen your negotiation position as a buyer. Research the market One of the strongest tools you have at your disposal when it comes to negotiating the best price is market knowledge and data. You need to make an informed offer, and this means you need to review the market and ensure that you are offering a suitable bid for the property. If you bid below the expected value, your offer will be dismissed quickly If you bid more than the expected value, your offer may be accepted quickly but you will pay over the odds If you bid at the expected level, you will remain in the running, but the seller may not be in any great rush to accept your offer. The more you know about the market, the better placed you will be to make an attractive offer, and this can stand you out from any other interested parties. Know what the average is – not just price but condition When it comes to researching the market, don’t just find out average property prices and values and stop there. You need to know what the average type of property is like in a local area. i.e specification, age, general condition. Once you know what the average property is like and why the average price has been comprised, you can make an informed judgement on how the property you are interested in compares to the average property. Does it deserve a premium for instance because its been renovated or extended. Ensure that you are in a stable financial place Before you make an offer for a home, make sure that you are in a position to do so. Some interested parties will make an offer more out of hope than expectation. Therefore, arrange for pre-approval on a mortgage and make sure that your finances are robust enough to allow you to make the best possible offer. When you are confident that your finances are stable, you enter negotiations with greater confidence and more leverage. A position of confidence will appeal to property owners, which can only be of benefit to you, if you’re looking to negotiate the best price. Make sure that you are ready to move If you can show that you are ready to move quickly, you will strengthen your negotiating position. Many prospective buyers have caveats attached to their offer or there may be potential delays attached to the deal. If you have sold your home, you don’t own a home, or you are in a position where you can move home without too much notice, a seller is more likely to take your bid seriously. Appoint a solicitor Being able to move quickly is a very appealing trait to have when buying property. You can show that you are serious about the deal and that you are keen to process the offer by having professional assistance lined up. When you appoint a solicitor, you indicate you are ready to progress the deal and for a vendor looking to sell, this is a highly attractive feature that will stand you out from other interested parties. Are there aspects of your offer that you can use to leverage a better deal? It may be that aspects other than the price you bid for a property is the strongest aspect you can bring to the negotiating table. Many vendors are concerned about deals collapsing due to a break in the property chain, so if you are not part of a chain, this could be appealing to the vendor. If all other things are equal, a bid from an interested buyer that carries a much smaller...
9 minutes | Aug 26, 2019
Top 5 causes of delay in the conveyancing process
An accepted offer on a home is cause for celebration. But, in many cases, the journey to completion can be longer than you bargained for. Watch out for these 5 most common delays. 1. Management companies being slow in returning information on leasehold properties If you’re buying a leasehold property (many flats and apartments and even some houses are leasehold), the transaction may be more complicated than buying a freehold property. This is because you are effectively leasing the property from the freeholder for a specific period, rather than owning it. With this type of purchase, your solicitor will need to obtain information from the freeholder/ and or management company. This includes costs (such as ground rent and monthly service charges), proof of buildings insurance and previous years’ accounts. There could also be additional checks that need to be carried out. What can you do?: Make it clear to your solicitor from the outset that you are buying a leasehold home. Give the freeholder or management company prior warning it will need to provide this information. 2. Buyers failing to disclose their mortgage deposit has been gifted Whether it’s 5%, 50% or any other amount, a mortgage lender will want to know where your deposit is coming from. If all, or even part of it, is a gift – from your parents, say – your solicitor must declare this to the bank or building society. And this means you need to declare it to your solicitor. Most lenders will require a signature from the source of the deposit, confirming the money does not need to be repaid. What can you do? Make sure you give your solicitor clear and accurate information about your deposit at the very start of the conveyancing process. Warn the gifting party they’ll need to sign a letter and potentially provide ID. 3. Delays from third parties in providing answers to outstanding enquiries Your solicitor will go through all the paperwork from the sellers, and raise a number of queries with their solicitor. These could be anything from how to resolve a problem exposed by the survey to a discrepancy on the property deeds. Hold-ups can occur if the third parties required to provide this information are operating on different time-scales. And, even if they are moving fast, particularly complex issues can take weeks to resolve. What can you do?: Keep in regular contact with your solicitor and be patient – they are required to follow a code of conduct and getting these checks done thoroughly is crucial. 4. Local authorities dragging their feet in returning searches Local authority searches are carried out to uncover potential issues that could affect the home you are purchasing, such as nearby planned development or tree preservation orders. Separate Environmental and Water searches, which flag problems like risk of flooding, will also be carried out. Some local authorities will return these searches within a few days, but others could take several weeks. What can you do?: Lodge funds for the searches with your solicitor straight away and request they are carried out as early as possible to reduce risk of delays. 5. Slow or under-resourced solicitors Even if you have an efficient and dedicated solicitor working on your property purchase, this is unlikely to be the case for every other party in the chain. They can often be busy with other transactions or, especially during the summer or Christmas holidays, could simply be under-staffed. This can cause hold-ups which can significantly slow down the time it takes to completion. The fact is, you can only ever move as quickly as the slowest party in the chain. What can you do?: Reply promptly to queries or requests for documentation yourself and, if you have to chase other parties in the chain, make a note of what was said. Get an estimated timeline from your solicitor upfront and, if possible, avoid holiday season. So that concludes this episode of Ask the Estate Agent Podcast. You can...
16 minutes | Aug 19, 2019
A guide to selling a property as an executor
If you are named as an executor in someone’s will, you have a lot of duties and responsibilities placed upon you. It will fall to you to gather in and value the assets of the estate, pay off any debts and liabilities, calculate and pay any inheritance tax (IHT) that is due – and distribute the estate in accordance with the will. In addition, unless the beneficiaries named in the will wish to have the deceased’s property transferred into their names, you as the executor will need to sell it. Selling property as an executor is slightly different from the usual process, so how should you go about it to ensure things run as smoothly as possible? 1. Obtain a Grant of Probate If the deceased owned property in the sole name, when selling property as an executor, you will need to get what is known as a ‘Grant of Probate’. This is a legal document issued by the court which confirms the validity of the will and names the executor who has the legal authority to deal with the deceased’s assets. This includes the legal authority to enter into and sign contracts on behalf of the estate, such as the contract to sell a house. As an executor, you need to be aware that obtaining a Grant of Probate can take potentially 12 weeks or more, so bear this in mind when looking to sell a property. 2. Get the property valued As part of the process of applying for the Grant of Probate, you will need to get a valuation for the deceased’s property – or properties. This should reflect the value of the property at the date the owner died, rather than the actual selling price. You can do this via a surveyor, or via an estate agent. 3. Check the title and deeds At this stage, you should also check the property’s title. You should be able to do this with the Land Registry. You should then get a solicitor to check the title entries to see if there are any restrictions affecting the property – or defects in the title – which may need addressing before the property can be sold. For example, there could be an outstanding mortgage you were not initially aware of even someone else owning a share in the property. 4. Can the executor sell property without all beneficiaries approving? Unless the will states something to the contrary, there are no special provisions made for the beneficiaries to sign-off on a property sale. However, it is always advisable to have open and clear communication from the outset, and a written agreement if necessary. If the home is sold for less than a reasonable market value then disgruntled beneficiaries do have the option to sue to executor, adding additional stress to an already tricky situation. 5. What are your options for selling property as an executor? Put it on the market with a traditional estate agent When you get the property valued as part of the applying for Grant of Probate, you can talk to the estate agent about putting the property on the market. Pros You should be able to get a fair price for the property, and especially if you’re not in a hurry to sell. Cons You will have to deal with the property-selling process, including the to-ing and fro-ing between solicitors and estate agents, yourself. This can be stressful and time-consuming. Use a quick house sale company In recent years, there’s been an influx of so-called ‘quick house sale’ companies which claim to sell your home fast. They do this by buying the property directly or finding a third party buyer very quickly. Pros – The property being sold fast can be an appealing option when you’re trying to dispose of a deceased’s home. – Firms may pay solicitor and search fees, meaning you don’t have to worry about these costs. – You get paid in cash. Cons – These firms usually buy at a discounted rate, which could be as much as 25%. – There is the risk of the price being reduced at the last minute. – Fee structures are not always transparent. – The quick...
20 minutes | Aug 12, 2019
What is the difference between sole agency and multi agency?
Once you’ve decided to sell your home, choosing the right estate agent to help you is a top priority. But one of the big choices you need to make is whether to opt for sole agency, where one firm has the exclusive right to market your home for a fixed period, or multi agency, where you get more than one firm to help you sell. The choice you make will affect the amount you pay in fees and could also potentially have an impact on the amount you receive for your home. Sole agency is the most common type of estate agent contract, and most people start with this arrangement, but here we take a look at the pros and cons of both… Sole agency What does it mean? Just one agent acts for you for a certain period. They receive all the commission on a sale, but if the property hasn’t sold at the end of this period, you’re free to use other estate agents. Pros The charge is usually between 1.5% and 2%, which is cheaper than multi agency. Agents will agree to lower commission with sole agency, as there is a higher chance they will make the sale. If you find a buyer yourself privately, there is no commission to pay unless you have agreed sole selling rights with the agent. It’s an increasingly rare arrangement, but if this is the case, you must pay commission regardless of who finds the buyer. Cons Historically you’d receive less exposure than you would with more than one agency. However, with most buyers using sites like Zoopla, this is now less of an issue. You may end up with lower offers than you would with multiple agents. You will sign up to a ‘lock-in’ period, usually 12 weeks, meaning it will be hard to switch agents if you’re unhappy. If you do sell through another agent while still under contract, you could find yourself having to pay commission not only to the agent who sold the property, but also to the original sole agent. Multi agency What does it mean? You can instruct as many agents as you like. They will all act for you at the same time and the one who finds the buyer earns the commission. Pros More agents pushing your property historically used to mean more exposure, but thanks to buyers predominantly using sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla, this is less pronounced. You may receive higher offers. As agents will be competing against each other, this can speed up a sale. Cons The fee may be closer to 3%. All agents will be competing against each other, potentially making the process quite chaotic. An inherent risk agents may try and get you to accept a lower offer so they secure the commission. As several agents will have keys to your home, the viewing process could be more disruptive. If buyers see multiple listings for your home with different agents they may be put off. Top tips Most people start with sole agency and only move to multiple agents if their property doesn’t sell quickly. While the normal lock-in period with a sole agent is 12 weeks, shorter periods of six to eight weeks can often be negotiated. Multi agency may be the better option if the importance of a fast sale outweighs increased commission. Joint agency is another option. This is where you instruct two agents, who will come to an agreement over commission. ie. It may be shared irrespective of who finds the buyer. It’s a more common option for selling overseas property when you want to appoint a specialist national agent as well as a generalist local agent. The fee for joint agency tends to be around 2%. So that concludes this episode of Ask the Estate Agent Podcast. You can contact us anytime using the links below: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/asktheestateagent (www.facebook.com/asktheestateagent) Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/asktheestateagent (www.instagram.com/asktheestateagent) Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asktheEA (www.twitter.com/asktheEA) Website: http://www.asktheestateagent.co.uk/ (www.asktheestateagent.co.uk) So don’t forget to contact...
15 minutes | Aug 5, 2019
Free ways to cut the cost of your energy bills
While investing to go green can work, it may not be possible for everyone immediately. However, there are some habits you can change that will add up to saving both time and energy. Here are the top 11. 1. Switch off the lights One of the most obvious ways to cut your electricity bill is to switch off the lights as you leave a room. The Energy Saving Trust (EST) estimates you can save £15 a year with this one small action, so why not make it a habit? Estimated saving: £15 2. Cover floors and plug gaps Lack of insulation will only maintain cold temperatures, leading to a corresponding surge in heating bills. If you don’t have fitted carpets, use thick rugs on wooden floors to lock in warmth. While you’re at it, draught-proof your home with old towels under the doors and some sealant or tape on windows and skirting boards. The result will be a discount of around £85 on your energy bills. Estimated saving: £85 3. Nudge down your thermostat Turning down your thermostat by just a single degree can save up to £90 on your annual energy bill, according to the Energy Saving Trust. You’ll hardly notice the difference and it’s all money back in your wallet. Estimated saving: £90 4. Avoid using standby mode When your household appliances aren’t in use, most automatically revert to standby, but this quietly drains energy. You can turn most electrical appliances off directly at the mains, saving yourself around £30 a year in the process. (Note however that digital TV or satellite recorders may need to be kept in standby to properly function.) Estimated saving: £30 5. Time your shower There’s nothing like a long, hot shower in winter. But, do you know how long you actually spend in there? Many of us even let the shower run for a minute or two before we hop under it. Cutting down your shower running time by just one minute will shave an easy £10 off your annual energy bill. And you can save a further £20 just by swapping one bath a week with a shower. Estimated saving: £30 6. Don’t leave the tap running when washing up Washing the dishes can be costly if you leave hot water running. So get into the habit of filling up the sink with hot suds instead. And if you have a dishwasher, don’t press go until it’s full. Estimated saving £15 7. Fill the kettle with what you need How many times a day do you fill up your kettle for tea? And do you fill it all the way every time? It’s estimated that three-quarters of all British households are in the habit of overfilling the kettle. By heating up just the right amount of water you need, you could knock another £7 off your annual energy bill. Estimated saving: £7 8. Switch to a cheaper energy supplier Your current energy provider may not be the cheapest, which means it could pay to switch. It’s important to do your research first, though. Read the fine print on your existing contract to find out if there’s a cancellation penalty. When you are free to leave, use a comparison service to find the best deal for your circumstances. Estimated saving: £403 9. Slide silver foil behind your radiator Putting silver foil down the back of radiators reflects heat back into the room and prevents its escape through the walls. Get the best fit by wrapping foil around pieces of cardboard and simply sliding it behind the radiator. (Note you won’t need to turn this trick if you already have cavity wall insulation.) Estimated saving: £15 10. Leave your oven door open after cooking There’s nothing like a bit of cooking to warm up a kitchen. But when you’ve finished using the oven transfer that heat to the rest of the home by leaving the oven door open until it cools down. Estimated saving: £15 11. Apply for energy-saving grants Five of the Big Six energy suppliers (British Gas, EDF, E.On. Npower and SSE) offer grants for energy-saving improvements to British households, such as loft or cavity wall insulation or even a new boiler, although most of them only under certain...
17 minutes | Jul 29, 2019
How to keep your property purchase on track
Buying a home can be a stressful experience – but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few handy tips to make it as smooth-sailing as possible. You need to jump through a few hoops when buying a home and even if both you and the seller are keen to exchange contracts promptly, there can be delays. So here are eight top tips for a smooth property transaction. 1. Understand the jargon First of all, get to know the lingo. Arrangement fee? Standard Variable Rate? Mortgage Indemnity Guarantee? There’s a fair share of industry terminology involved when it comes to buying a home, so make sure you understand the key terms before you kickstart your property search. Utilise google and search any terms you come across and aren’t sure about. 2. Consider selling before buying If you’re already a homeowner, think about selling your property before you start looking for a new one. It is easier to buy a home chain-free, but you need to consider where you will live – and storage costs – in the interim. If you’re eyeing a new-build home, then a part exchange scheme may be the answer. It allows you to effectively trade in your existing home as part-payment for a new one purchased from a developer or house builder. This can make the whole process a lot easier and simplier dealing with the developer directly for both your purchase and sale providing the part exchange deal they offer works for you. 3. Get organised Get your ducks in a row. Speak to a mortgage advisor to confirm your budget and get an agreement in principle. Then work out what you can and can’t afford before you arrange any property viewings. Also, have all the relevant paperwork ready before you formally apply for a mortgage. Requirements will vary between lenders but they typically include proof of your income and outgoings as well as proof of your identity and address. Remember that a formal mortgage offer has a shelf life and if you fail to complete the purchase before it expires, you’ll have to start the process again. This is typically between 3-6 months so check this with your chosen lender. 4. Ask the seller to take the property off the market Found your dream home? Make sure one of the conditions of your offer is that the property is taken off the market. It will help prevent another buyer from making an offer the seller can’t refuse. 5. Pick professionals Work with people you trust. You will rely on a raft of different firms, or individuals, during the home buying process. They will typically include a surveyor, solicitor, and removals company. Ask friends and family for recommendations and hire carefully. Listen back to Podcast episode 13 where we discuss in more detail who you should have in what we call your property power team and how to select these professionals. 6. Respond promptly Be ready to review, fill out, sign and return all documents quickly and efficiently. Your solicitor will no doubt send through a lot of information about your property, including local authority searches. There’s no need to rush things. But sitting on the paperwork will only hold up the process. 7. Communication is king Stay in regular contact with both your solicitor and the estate agent to ensure that you are up to speed with the purchase and that it’s on track. It’s a good idea to agree a weekly update between all parties to cut the chances of miscommunication. 8. Be realistic Finally, set a realistic target for exchanging contracts so that everyone in the process has the same deadline to work towards. You can always amend the timescale between exchange and completion if you and/or the seller need to delay moving. So that concludes this episode of Ask the Estate Agent Podcast. You can contact us anytime using the links below: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/asktheestateagent (www.facebook.com/asktheestateagent) Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/asktheestateagent (www.instagram.com/asktheestateagent)...
14 minutes | Jul 22, 2019
9 points to consider when picking a Solicitor
Think you’ve found the solicitor to get you through the trials of the homebuying process? Here are some simple and quick checks you can make before committing. 1. Who exactly will be handling your case? Clarify who’ll be put in charge of your case. And ask whether you will be dealing with just that ‘case-handler’ – or a team of people. If you are assigned just one solicitor, find out what happens if they are sick or on holiday. 2. Does the solicitor pick up the phone? There’s nothing more frustrating than every phone call you make going straight to voicemail, so consider doing a ‘mystery shop’ to ensure your solicitor is on the end of the phone – or at least returns your call within a reasonable timeframe. 3. Do they reply to emails? Ask your conveyancer to provide a rough – but realistic – idea of how quickly they’re able to respond to emails on a typical day. 4. Where are they based? While many aspects of the conveyancing process can now be carried out remotely, it can still be useful for your solicitor’s offices to be local – for example if you need to hand-deliver photo ID or crucial last-minute documents. 5. Can you get hold of them outside of office hours? Find out if your solicitor can be contacted in the evening or at weekends. It might not be necessary but it’s good to manage expectations. 6. What is it likely to cost? Conveyancing is no different to any other service. And, as a paying customer, you have a right to see a full breakdown of the cost – including any VAT. It will only be an estimate but a line in the sand is infinitely better than nothing. 7. What exactly will they will do? You may be totally new to the conveyancing process, or have simply just forgotten from last time, so don’t be afraid of asking questions. It’s imperative you understand exactly what your solicitor will – and won’t – do for their quoted fee. 8. Can they meet your timeline? Ask upfront the estimated length of conveyancing time for the purchase (on the proviso it runs smoothly) – especially if you have a deadline goal in mind, such as Christmas. 9. Do they have the right expertise? Especially if you have an unusual or more complicated house purchase, check the solicitor has the relevant experience to manage your case. So that concludes this episode of Ask the Estate Agent Podcast. You can contact us anytime using the links below: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/asktheestateagent (www.facebook.com/asktheestateagent) Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/asktheestateagent (www.instagram.com/asktheestateagent) Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asktheEA (www.twitter.com/asktheEA) Website: http://www.asktheestateagent.co.uk/ (www.asktheestateagent.co.uk) So don’t forget to contact us with any subjects you would like us to cover or questions you would like answering in the coming episodes and until next time I would like to thank you for listening and goodbye for now. This podcast is brought to you by Liberty Gate http://www.libertygate.co.uk/ (www.libertygate.co.uk) Nottingham’s multi award winning Estate Agency Source: Zoopla
18 minutes | Jul 15, 2019
What survey do I need for my new home?
If you’re buying a home, you’ll want a survey to ensure its bricks and mortar are sturdy and not concealing any nasty defects – but which type should you go for? Buying a new home is a major financial commitment – probably the biggest you’ll ever make. But how can you determine exactly what it is you are paying for? The answer is by commissioning a home buyers survey, also known as a property survey. What is a property survey? In simple terms, a home buyers survey is a health check on a property. And if it reveals any problems, it puts you in a position to ask the seller to fix them before you proceed with the purchase. Alternatively, you may choose to renegotiate the final sale price to account for the cost of fixing them yourself – or you may opt to pull out entirely. Do I need to get a home buyers survey? It’s not a legal requirement to have a home buyers survey on a property you are buying. And, at a time when your bank account feels like a bucket with a hole in the bottom, it may seem like an unnecessary expense. However, a home buyers survey could actually save you money – not to mention a lot of stress – in the long run. It’s a good idea to have a home buyers survey on most types of property, but it’s especially important if you’re looking to buy a home that’s unusual in structure, has a thatched roof or timber frame, is listed, or just very old. You probably won’t need a home buyers survey if you are buying a new-build home, which typically comes with a 10-year NHBC guarantee. However, you may still want to get a snagging survey done, which checks the property for defects and poor finishings such as wonky guttering and bad paintwork. Important note! If you are getting a mortgage to buy your home, the lender will carry out a valuation of the property. But this is not a home buyers survey and shouldn’t be treated as one. The sole purpose of the mortgage valuation is to demonstrate to the lender that the property is worth the sale price before it gives you the green light for the mortgage. Who does the home buyers survey? It’s important to use a surveyor who is a member of a recognised governing body, such as RICS or RPSA, to carry out your home buyers survey. Bear in mind that home buyers survey quotes vary between surveyors as well as properties, so it’s best to source a number of different ones first. What types of property survey are there? Professional industry body, RICS offers three types of home buyers survey, which vary in depth of inspection. The CONDITION REPORT What is it? A Condition Report is the most basic survey and usually therefore the cheapest. It will typically take around one to two hours to complete, and a day to return. What will the property survey do? Check the basic condition of the building, services – such as gas and water supply – garage and any other outbuildings. It uses a simple traffic light system which will flag any problems that require attention Provide a summary of issues and risks for your solicitor or property lawyer to look in to. For example, bad electrics, ownership of boundaries and planning permission for extensions or other building work. How much does it cost? Fees are normally based on the purchase price, and start from £300. When should I get one? A Condition Report is suitable for newer properties and homes that are in a general good state of repair. Get one if you will be happy with just a broad-brush overview of the property’s condition. The HOMEBUYER REPORT What is it? A HomeBuyer Report is a kind of middle ground. It’s more extensive than the Condition Report – and typically costs more too. It is offered either with or without a property valuation. It typically takes one to two hours to inspect the property and another hour to complete the valuation. You can expect to receive the HomeBuyer Report within two days. The HOMEBUYER REPORT (survey only) What will the property
8 minutes | Jul 8, 2019
5 differences between buying a property in Scotland and England
Buying and selling homes in Scotland is slightly different to England and Wales. Here are the main differences and how they work in practice. 1. Gazumping is almost unheard of In Scotland, once a seller has agreed an offer price on a property, it is taken off the market. In fact, solicitors in Scotland must decline to act for the seller if they later accept an offer from another party – that is, unless the original offer has fallen through. This means the practice of ‘gazumping’ – where a seller goes back on an agreement in favour of a higher bidder – is very rare in Scotland, although it’s not theoretically illegal. 2. Property is usually marketed at ‘over’ a specified price In Scotland, solicitor firms are often responsible for marketing properties, rather than estate agents. This is because most residential conveyancing firms in Scotland also have an estate agency department. Homes in Scotland are either marketed as offers ‘over’ a specified price, or at a fixed price. If it’s at ‘over’ a given price, interested parties will be asked to give sealed bids and timescales of purchase. The highest bidder will win and will be informed on the same day. If it’s at a fixed price (most common when market conditions are challenging or the seller wants a quick sale), the first person to offer the required amount becomes the successful party. In England and Wales, homes are marketed by estate agents at an ‘advertised price’ which is negotiable and are only financially tied in after contracts have been exchanged. 3. Sellers must provide information upfront In Scotland, almost all residential properties are required to have a ‘Home Report’ before they can be marketed for sale. The only exceptions to this are new-build homes and buildings that have been recently converted into residential accommodation. A Home Report contains a survey, a report on the home’s energy efficiency, and a detailed property questionnaire completed by the seller. By contrast, the only upfront information required in England and Wales to market a home is an energy performance certificate. Once an offer has been accepted the buyer can then choose to organise a survey of the property. Back in 2007, the Government attempted to replicate the Scottish system with the introduction of Home Information Packs. But, after a disastrous roll-out, the packs were finally scrapped in 2010. 4. There is no stamp duty Stamp duty in Scotland was replaced in 2012 by Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT). It applies to homes worth more than £145,000, compared to the £125,000 first stamp duty threshold in England. In Wales, Land Transaction Tax (LTT) applies to properties of £180,000 or more. First-time buyers in Scotland will only start paying LBTT on homes worth £175,000 or more, whereas in England relief is available on the first £300,000 of the value of all properties up to £500,000. 5. The ‘missives’ are legally binding When a bid has been successful, which is reported on the same day it was made, the buyer’s solicitor will confirm their mortgage with the lender, agree an entry date and deal with legal enquiries about the property. But instead of a single contract, a buyer’s solicitor in Scotland will exchange a series of formal letters, known as the missives with the seller’s solicitor. Once the missives are concluded, the deal becomes legally binding and the seller must convey the legal title of the property to the buyer. Failure to do so gives the buyer the right to be released from the contract and claim damages against the seller. In England and Wales, no legally binding agreement exists until contracts are signed and exchanged so either party can withdraw from sale up to this point. So that concludes todays episode Do you think England and Wales should move towards a Scottish system? You can contact us anytime using the...
9 minutes | Jul 1, 2019
Equity release is it right for you?
With half the nation worried about a lack of money in retirement, we consider whether equity release presents a viable option. With almost half of those set to retire this year worried they’ll run out of money in retirement, it’s no wonder people are looking for more ways to increase their income – and sooner rather than later. It’s a genuine concern. It’s predicted that one in 10 men and one in six women in the UK will be living on less than the recommended minimum income when they retire. Despite these troubling statistics, it’s thought that the over 50s are sitting on an enormous £2.8 trillion worth of property in the UK. With this in mind, it’s unsurprising that so many retirees want to unlock some of the cash in their family home to make up for their shortfalls. Equity release is a popular route, though it’s not right for everyone and there are significant risks involved. Equity release schemes have a chequered past and still struggle with their reputation. However modern schemes which follow the guidelines of the Equity Release Council have considerable protections including ‘no negative equity’ guarantees. So What is equity release, and how does it work? If you’re over 55, there are a range of products available for you to release money tied up in your home. The two most common are lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans. 1. Lifetime mortgage The most common option, and essentially where you borrow a percentage of your property’s value. There will be interest on this loan, but instead of having to pay it each month, it’s usually rolled up (added back on to the amount you have borrowed), and then paid off when the property’s sold. This means that the amount you owe would increase every month. 2. Home reversion plan This is where you sell off a chunk of your home to a home reversion company but continue to live there. This can be expensive, because you’ll only usually get a fraction of the value of the chunk you’re selling, and when the property is sold, the home reversion company takes a percentage of the sale. If, for example, your house was worth £200,000, and you sold half of it, you might get just £50,000. If the property value then rose to £250,000 when you came to sell it, the home reversion company would take £125,000. When you could consider equity release 1. If you don’t want to downsize If you can’t bring yourself to downsize, or you’re unwilling to sever the emotional ties with the family home, these schemes could help you free up some cash. 2. There could be tax benefits When your inheritance tax bill is eventually calculated, the mortgage and any interest is subtracted from the value of your property. If you’ve spent the equity or given it away at least seven years before you die, it won’t be counted. So there may be less tax to pay. But remember that tax rules can change and the benefits will depend on your individual circumstances. Where equity release isn’t the right decision In the right circumstances, equity release can work. But for most people, the additional costs outweigh the benefits of your other options, such as downsizing. 1. Interest on interest The interest being added to a lifetime mortgage can have a big effect on the sum you owe to the equity release company. Even at an interest rate of 3.5%, over 20 years, your debt will double. This might not be a problem if the value of your house rises faster than the rate your equity release mortgage increases by, but there are never any guarantees. These costs will impact the value of the inheritance you leave to your loved ones, so talk to those affected before you make a decision. If you’re unsure about a financial decision, you should seek advice. 2. Means-tested benefits The money you release could mean you’re no longer entitled to means-tested state benefits like pension credit and council tax benefit. So, you’ll need to know what you stand to lose, as well as gain. 3. You could miss out on future...
11 minutes | Jun 24, 2019
9 top tips to being a good landlord
This guide will help you be a model landlord – and stay on the right side of the law. There’s an ever-growing labyrinth of dos and don’ts in the private rented sector. So if you’re a landlord – or considering becoming one – it’s important to stay on top of your legal obligations. So to help you get started in the right way here are nine top tips for landlords. 1. Find out if you need a landlord licence First things first. Check with your local council to see if you need a landlord licence to rent out your property. Legislation was introduced in 2006 and some areas have implemented selective licensing to clamp down on rogue landlords. 2. Stay on top of tenant checks That means rigorously referencing new tenants to make sure they are reliable. This includes checking their credit eligibility, getting references from their previous landlords and ensuring they have the right to lawfully live and rent in the UK. You risk a fine or even a jail sentence if you fail to carry out Right to Rent checks in England under the Immigration Acton 2014. However, this may change as Right to Rent has been challenged in the High Court as a breach of human rights so watch this space but remain compliant in the meantime. 3. Protect your tenant’s deposits You must protect tenants’ deposits safely in a government-accredited scheme within 30 days of receiving it. And once you’ve done that, you’ll need to give your tenant the Deposit Protection certificate and Prescribed Information. You’ve got a choice of three schemes: Deposit Protection Service (DPS), MyDeposits or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). Since the June 1, 2019 when Tenant Fees Bill landed, the amount of deposit you can take from a tenant is capped at five weeks’ rent or six weeks’ if the rental costs are more than £50,000 a year. 4. Provide a valid EPC Make sure your property is up to scratch in terms of its energy performance – and hand a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to your tenant. As of April 1, 2018, your property must be rated at least ‘E’ in the EPC. If you’re rumbled arranging a new letting without ensuring your property is up to this standard, you may be fined. In addition, since April 6, 2018, you risk being banned from managing your property. That would mean your local council would take control of your property and collect the rent. But you would still be liable for the mortgage and any other costs, such as maintenance. 5. Do your safety checks You are legally required to have all gas appliances in the property checked by a Gas Safe-registered engineer every year – and provide tenants with a Gas Safety Certificate within 28 days of the annual check. But that’s not all. Fire alarms should be fitted on every floor of the property from the start, and carbon monoxide detectors must be in any room where solid fuel, such as wood or charcoal, is used. Test both alarms on the first day of the tenancy. You must make sure that your rental property in England is fit for human habitation. If you fail to comply with standards set out under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, your tenants can take legal action against you. 6. Draw up a tenancy agreement It’s not a legal requirement but getting a tenancy agreement drawn up and signed by both you and your tenants is really crucial. Make sure it’s an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement as that’s the type of contracts that renting rules and legislation applies to. 7. Carry out regular inspections – with permission It’s a good idea to regularly check the state of your property. But you are legally forbidden from entering without the tenant’s permission. It’s best practice to give your tenants 24 to 48 hours’ written notice – and this should be stipulated in your tenancy agreement. 8. Get the right insurance A good insurance policy will cover loss of rent, damage, legal expenses and liabilities. Remember that most standard building insurers do not provide
11 minutes | Jun 17, 2019
The Tenant Fee Act 2019 and what you need to know
The Tenant Fee Act is now in force from the 1st June 2019. The Tenant Fees Act sets out the Government’s approach to banning letting fees for tenants. The key measures of the Act include: Tenancy Deposits must not exceed the equivalent of five weeks’ rent (unless the annual rent exceeds £50,000 in which case deposits are capped at six weeks’ rent). Holding Deposits will be capped at no more than one week’s rent. The amount that can be charged for a change to a tenancy will be capped at £50 unless the landlord demonstrates that greater costs were incurred. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 is amended to specify that the letting agent transparency requirements should apply to third-party websites. Alongside rent and deposits, agents and landlords will only be permitted to charge tenants fees associated with: A change or early termination of a tenancy when requested by the tenant. Utilities, communication services and Council Tax. Payments arising from a default by the tenant where they have had to replace keys or a respective security device, or a charge for late rent payment (not exceeding 3% above the bank of England base rate). A breach of the fees ban will be a civil offence with a financial penalty of up to £5,000. You can see all the government guidance on the Tenant Fee Act by https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tenant-fees-act (clicking here.) New How to Rent Guide and Section 21 Form It’s also worth noting that the government released a new updated version of the Right to Rent Guide as well as a new Section 21 Form to factor in changes from the Tenant Fee Act. Please see links to the updated documents here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/806216/6.5707_MHCLG_How_to_Rent_v4.pdf (How to Rent Guide) https://www.gov.uk/guidance/assured-tenancy-forms#form-6a (Section 21 Form) So that concludes this episode of Ask the Estate Agent Podcast. You can contact us anytime using the links below: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/asktheestateagent (www.facebook.com/asktheestateagent) Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/asktheestateagent (www.instagram.com/asktheestateagent) Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asktheEA (www.twitter.com/asktheEA) Website: http://www.asktheestateagent.co.uk/ (www.asktheestateagent.co.uk) So don’t forget to contact us with any subjects you would like us to cover or questions you would like answering in the coming episodes and until next time I would like to thank you for listening and goodbye for now. This podcast is brought to you by Liberty Gate http://www.libertygate.co.uk/ (www.libertygate.co.uk) Nottingham’s multi award winning Estate Agency
6 minutes | Jun 10, 2019
Can I give my property to my children?
Considering gifting a property to your loved ones? Make sure you understand the financial implications first. Before giving a property to your children, make sure you understand the rules, and any costs involved. Otherwise, what could be a wonderful gesture can leave a bitter financial taste. There may be a number of reasons you want to hand over your property. You may have another home to live in or be moving into care, or you might want to help your children on to the property ladder. It may also form part of your estate planning, with the aim of slashing the amount of inheritance tax (IHT) you’re liable for over the long-term. The good news is that rules state that you can give your property to your children – even if you’re currently living in it. But there are potential costs, and it’s important to understand what these are. 1. The impact on inheritance tax (IHT) If you gift a property to your child to cut the value of your estate for IHT purposes, this is a so-called ‘potentially exempt transfer’. If you die within seven years of making the transfer, then the property will be considered as part of your estate value for IHT purposes. But if you live for seven years or longer, there will be no IHT to pay on the value of the property, and you’ll have managed to reduce the overall value of your estate. 2. If you remain living in the property In this case, gifting a property is considered a ‘gift with reservation of benefit’. This means that you keep the right to benefit from the property, ie. live in it, and it will form part of your estate on death. That’s even if you live for more than seven years after gifting the property to your children. You may be able to get around this particular rule by paying rent to your children, if you want to take your property out of your estate for IHT purposes. But it’s important to seek professional advice, as the rules can be complicated. 3. Falling foul of other rules If you give a property to your children, the council may consider this a “deliberate deprivation of assets” – or, in other words, a way of avoiding paying for potential care home fees. The council may think you are trying to hide wealth tied up in your property to avoid paying for care later down the line because whether you are liable to pay for care, depends on the value of your assets. In this case, the transfer of ownership may be reversed, and you find the property is back in your name. 4. And remember… You will no longer be the legal owner of the property if you sign it over to your children. There may be issues further down the line, if you regret the decision, or there’s a family dispute. In theory, you could be asked to leave your own home by your own children, if they want to rent or sell the property. Though, of course, you’d hope this wouldn’t happen. Also, if your child is married, and you sign over your home, and they then divorce, bear in mind that their ex could have a rightful claim over the property. There are plenty of scenarios you may want to factor into your decision-making, before giving a property away. Seek professional advice before gifting a property to children, or anyone else, including on tax and other financial issues that may arise as a result of this. So that concludes this episode of Ask the Estate Agent Podcast. You can contact us anytime using the links below: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/asktheestateagent (www.facebook.com/asktheestateagent) Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/asktheestateagent (www.instagram.com/asktheestateagent) Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asktheEA (www.twitter.com/asktheEA) Website: http://www.asktheestateagent.co.uk/ (www.asktheestateagent.co.uk) So don’t forget to contact us with any subjects you would like us to cover or questions you would like answering in the coming episodes and until next time I would like to thank you for listening and goodbye for now. This podcast is brought to you by...
12 minutes | Jun 3, 2019
What every landlord should know about Right to Rent
Landlords are currently responsible for vetting their tenant’s legal right to rent in the UK under a Government scheme. Here’s how it works. Right to Rent, a government scheme which makes landlords responsible for checking their tenant has a legal right to rent in the UK, is ‘in breach of the Human Rights Act’, according to a recent High Court ruling. The Home Office has been granted permission to appeal, which could take several months. As things stand, landlords and lettings agents will need to adhere to Right to Rent rules. So here’s a rundown. What is Right to Rent? Right to Rent is a set of rules which puts the onus on landlords to check their tenant (or lodger) has the legal right to rent in the UK. It was introduced in England by the Government as part of The Immigration Act 2014 to clamp down on illegal migrants. When did it start? Right to Rent applies to all tenancies that started on or after 1 February, 2016. How do I know if I’m officially a ‘landlord’? In the Government’s own words, a landlord is someone who, “lets accommodation for use by one or more adults as their only or main home”. If you take in lodgers, sublet an existing rental property or even act on behalf of a landlord, this means you too. What if I use a lettings agent? If you use a lettings agent to let your property, Right to Rent checks will be their responsibility. However, this must be agreed with the agent in writing or you could still be held responsible. What type of tenants should I check? Any and every potential tenant aged over 18, regardless of whether they are British and even if they are not named in the tenancy agreement. All tenancy agreements are affected, not just Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements (ASTAs). Who has the right to rent? There are two groups of people that have the right to rent in the UK; those with unlimited right to rent and those with a time-limited right to rent. Here’s the difference: Unlimited Right to Rent: This group includes British citizens, EEA (European Economic Area) nationals or Swiss nationals. It also refers to people who have the right of abode in the UK and those that have been granted indefinite leave to remain, or have no time limit on their stay in the UK. Time–limited Right to Rent: Anyone who falls outside the above categories will have a time-limited right to rent (so long as they also have valid leave to enter or remain in the UK for a limited period of time. Time-limited right to renters also include people that are permitted to enter or remain in the UK as a result of Acts of Parliament, European Union Treaties and Immigration Regulation Who does not have the right to rent? In short, anyone seeking residential accommodation who requires permission to be in the UK – but does not have it. If you find the potential tenant does not have the Right to Rent, you must not offer them accommodation. How do I make a Right to Rent check? By walking through the following Right to Rent checklist: Confirm that the tenants will be using your home as their main residence. Gather original supporting documents from your tenant to verify their identity and their right to rent in the UK. Documents could include a passport or driving licence and birth certificate – and/or, if the tenant is time-limited, a residence card, visa and/or immigration status. More details around the documents you need, as well as a printable checklist, are available in this https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/492734/6_1193_HO_NH_Right-to-Rent-Guidance_v8.pdf (Home Office user guide). This https://www.gov.uk/government/news/right-to-rent-checks-what-they-mean-for-you (Home Office video) may also help. You will need to check all documents are valid in the presence of the tenant. Record the date you made the check and keep all copies of the documents for at least 12 months after the tenancy ends. If the tenant has an...
8 minutes | May 27, 2019
Rent your spare room tax-free
Got a spare room and in need of a little extra income? Using the Rent a Room scheme to get a lodger could be worth considering. What is Rent a Room? Landlords typically get taxed on income they earn from renting property. But under the Government’s Rent a Room scheme, householders could earn an income from letting spare rooms – and receive tax relief on it. Do I have to be a homeowner? No. Rent a Room is available to both homeowners and tenants with furnished accommodation. If you’re a tenant, you can still sublet spare rooms under Rent a Room, but make sure your own lease agreement permits it first – as many will not. How much can I earn before I have to pay tax? You can earn a maximum of £7,500 tax-free each year from letting furnished spare rooms. If you let jointly with others, the relief is split. So, if you arrange with your partner to have a lodger for example, you can earn £3,750 per year from him or her before having to pay tax. You can top up your rental income by charging for additional services, such as cleaning or laundry. But remember that all income received from letting spare rooms during the tax year will be taken into account under the Rent a Room scheme. What accommodation is covered by Rent a Room? The tax exemption under Rent a Room is available for a room or an entire floor – so long as the accommodation is furnished and within your only or main residential property. So long as you meet the criteria, you can also apply Rent a Room to furnished space in bed and breakfasts and guesthouses. Rent a Room doesn’t apply if you are renting space, such as an office, but not living there. And you cannot take advantage of the relief if your property has been converted into flats. Do I have to join Rent a Room? If the total income you receive from letting your spare rooms each year is less than the Rent a Room threshold, then your tax relief is automatic. You don’t have to do anything. But if it’s over the threshold, you must complete a https://www.gov.uk/self-assessment-tax-returns/who-must-send-a-tax-return (tax return) to HMRC. You have two choices here: 1. Opt into Rent a Room Claim your relief on the first £7,500 on your tax return. 2. Opt out of Rent a Room Don’t sign up to the scheme and instead record your income and expenses on the property pages of your tax return. How many people does Rent a Room impact? There are thought to be 19 million empty bedrooms in homes across England alone, according to Matt Hutchinson, director of flat and house share site, SpareRoom.co.uk and apartment share site, SpareRoom.com in New York. And freeing up just 5% of these rooms would accommodate almost a million people – equivalent to a city the size of Birmingham. So that concludes this episode of Ask the Estate Agent Podcast. You can contact us anytime using the links below: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/asktheestateagent (www.facebook.com/asktheestateagent) Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/asktheestateagent (www.instagram.com/asktheestateagent) Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asktheEA (www.twitter.com/asktheEA) Website: http://www.asktheestateagent.co.uk/ (www.asktheestateagent.co.uk) So don’t forget to contact us with any subjects you would like us to cover or questions you would like answering in the coming episodes and until next time I would like to thank you for listening and goodbye for now. This podcast is brought to you by Liberty Gate http://www.libertygate.co.uk/ (www.libertygate.co.uk) Nottingham’s multi award winning Estate Agency
11 minutes | May 20, 2019
Tenants beware of growing rental fraud
Prospective tenants are being warned about a fraud scam that cons people into paying an advance fee to rent a property. The National Landlords Association says it’s been contacted by several individuals who have fallen victim to the scam, where fraudsters have used NLA branding and fake letters from NLA representatives to make their approaches appear authentic. NLA chief executive Richard Lambert says: “Rental fraud is one of the uglier aspects of private renting. Tenants, no matter where they are from, should not send payment to advertisers before they are certain it is genuine and should contact their university who will have a list of reputable landlords and letting agents. “If you receive official correspondence from a ‘landlord’ and are worried it might be a scam, often a good clue is that it will be written in poor English. Tenants should also remember they can check if a landlord is an NLA member or accredited by visiting http://74n5c4m7.r.eu-west-1.awstrack.me/L0/http:%2F%2Fwww.landlords.org.uk%2Fmember-verification/2/01020169e393ad04-9335ec75-d0ea-46bf-b27b-66305ea5cedb-000000/tWUCpgPQUDcX5EcOES6khin1rd8=104 (www.landlords.org.uk/member-verification) “Any tenant that falls victim to such a scam should contact the relevant authorities in their own country and alert the police in the UK via http://74n5c4m7.r.eu-west-1.awstrack.me/L0/http:%2F%2Fwww.actionfraud.police.uk/1/01020169e393ad04-9335ec75-d0ea-46bf-b27b-66305ea5cedb-000000/wwBxGa9D3kyPmGYs8aigYPQtGLg=104 (www.actionfraud.police.uk).” The NLA is reissuing guidance to prospective tenants about avoiding online rental fraud which was drafted in conjunction with the National Union of Students and the National Crime Agency 1.Do not send money up front to anyone advertising online, make sure they are genuine first and view the property if you can; Beware if you are asked to wire any money via a money transfer service, criminals can use details from the receipt to withdraw money from another location; To use only government approved deposit schemes; Contact the organisations the landlord claims to be associated with in order to verify their status. Tenants wanting to check whether a prospective landlord is a member of the NLA or accredited should ask them for their membership number, then go to http://74n5c4m7.r.eu-west-1.awstrack.me/L0/http:%2F%2Fwww.landlords.org.uk%2Fmember-verification/1/01020169e393ad04-9335ec75-d0ea-46bf-b27b-66305ea5cedb-000000/uSXL5zVYU2pxE9ZAMWIOBF3XPto=104 (landlords.org.uk/member-verification;) Overseas applicants needing to secure accommodation before they arrive in the UK should first seek the help of the employer or university they are coming to; Get paperwork and proof: ask for a copy of the tenancy agreement or safety certificates to confirm that the “landlord” has a genuine legal connection with property Please, please take your time to do your due diligence and research the landlord or letting agency you are looking to deal with before handing over any money. The incoming compulsory redress scheme membership will give you further security and another way to check you are dealing with a reputable landlord or company but until then if it doesn’t feel right or check out just walk away. So that concludes this episode of Ask the Estate Agent Podcast. You can contact us anytime using the links below: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/asktheestateagent (www.facebook.com/asktheestateagent) Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/asktheestateagent (www.instagram.com/asktheestateagent) Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asktheEA (www.twitter.com/asktheEA) Website: http://www.asktheestateagent.co.uk/ (www.asktheestateagent.co.uk) So don’t forget to contact us with any subjects you would like us to cover or questions you would like answering in the coming episodes and until next time I would like to thank you for listening and goodbye for now. This podcast is brought to you by Liberty Gate...
16 minutes | May 13, 2019
How to spot investment property with potential
Searching for a home where you can add value, but not sure what exactly to look for? As a buyer looking for a new place to live, you may well be keen to find property with potential – after all, our homes are an investment. But how do you go about doing this? Here’s our guide to spotting opportunities for adding value to your home. 1. Home extensions Extending property is a great way of adding value in a tried and tested manner, so keep an eye out for a home which can be built out. Many Victorian and Edwardian terraced houses have a side return – a dark and often under-used strip of garden. This can be a great area to extend into, to create a bigger and highly-desirable kitchen. Also look for properties with a nearby outhouse which can be joined up by a link extension. Don’t forget to look up and down too, as there may be space for a loft or basement conversion. 2. Homes where you can add a storey If a property already has a single-storey extension, look at whether there’s scope for adding another storey. This could give you space for an additional bedroom and bathroom – one of the most effective ways to boost your property’s value. Do some research during your viewing to see if any of the neighbours have done something similar, as this could set a helpful precedent. Also seek expert advice from a builder on whether the existing extension is strong enough to support a second storey. 3. Homes on plots that can be extended Don’t be too quick to dismiss a home where the plot is too small for the size of property. Check out the possibility of purchasing adjacent land. If you are able to do so, this could mean a dramatic increase in the value of the property. Also note that small homes on bigger plots have lots of opportunities for improvement. 4. Homes where you can create open-plan living Building an open-plan kitchen-living room is a highly desirable way of adding value to your home, so look out for places with a small kitchen that is beside a large dining room or living room. Do a bit of detective work right away to work out whether the wall is internal or load-bearing. It will cost more to remove the wall, as structural support will be needed to replace it, if it is load-bearing. If in doubt, arrange a visit with a surveyor or structural engineer. 5. Homes where you can improve layout Spend time scouring the floor plan to see what changes can be made. A badly laid out property that can be re-configured can offer potential. 6. Homes that require new kitchens and bathrooms Pay close attention to homes which need the kitchen and bathroom ripping out and starting again. They are two of the most valuable rooms in a property. A brand new kitchen with the latest mod cons and oodles of storage, or a sparkling new bathroom suite with flashy taps, power shower and glass screen could add some serious extra value onto your home. 7. Homes where you can add a downstairs toilet A property where you can install a ground floor WC can offer decent potential – and will appeal, in particular, to those with young children, people who like to entertain, as well as older couples who may struggle with stairs. Think as creatively as you can, as you may not need to knock down walls or build an extension to fit a downstairs toilet into the property. You may be able to fit one in in a large cupboard, in a space under the stairs, or by syphoning off a portion of a room. 8.Ugly homes While an ugly home can be a turn-off at first sight, it’s worth looking beyond initial impressions to see if the place can be given a facelift – and especially if the property is in a good location. A ‘good’ location could mean, for example, it is an area known for its good schools or transport links. You may be able to make some relatively simple cosmetic changes to an ugly property, such as new windows, painting, cladding – and planting climbing plants. All these steps can make a dramatic difference. 9. Homes that are...
10 minutes | May 6, 2019
Should you sell your property at Auction?
Selling a property at auction could help you shift your home quickly, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everybody. Should you sell your property at auction, and if you do, will you make more profit than going a more traditional route? These are key questions, but before you consider an auction as an option it’s vital to understand the consequences – once the hammer falls, you can’t change your mind, and the sale is binding. Here’s what you need to know, and how to go about it. Why sell at auction? An auction sale may appeal if you’ve got to make a quick move, for example, you need the cash urgently to pay off other debts. Properties for sale at auction will be there for a number of reasons, such as bankruptcy, or repossession. Alternatively, they may have particular issues that could prove problematic for mainstream buyers, such as a short lease. If you have a property with such an issue that you’re finding hard to shift, selling at auction may offer a solution. What types of property sell at auction? All types of property are up for sale at auction. However, this way of selling often attracts more unusual properties. Auction houses are known for attracting buyers looking for a property project, or a property that may not typically be on the market. The cost You’ll pay around 2.5% of the price you finally receive for your property to the auction house, although it depends on which one you use. You may also pay for advertising costs, if required, even if the property isn’t sold. The costs of selling at auction may be higher than using an estate agent, so do your sums before signing up your property. Once a sale is agreed, you’ll also need to fork out for a solicitor, as you would with a standard sale. Finding an auction house Essential Information Group (EIG) at http://www.eigpropertyauctions.co.uk (www.eigpropertyauctions.co.uk) offers a useful database, which is a good starting point. Contact those auction houses you may be interested in, and ask to receive details of properties for sale, to get an idea of how your property will be marketed. Ask any questions you might have, and it’s also worth visiting some auctions, which are free to attend, to see how the sale process works. How your property is valued Your property will feature a guide price and a reserve price, which are not the same. The guide price will typically be less than the property actually sells for. It’s the price that potential buyers will see, giving an idea of what the property is worth. The reserve price is set by the seller, and it’s the lowest price they are willing to accept. This may be kept secret, between you and the auctioneer. The reserve is not usually set too high, but if your property is expected to appeal to bidders, it could receive a high reserve price. If offers are lower than the reserve price the auctioneer will withdraw the property from sale. It’s important to think carefully about the price you’re comfortable with, as once a sale is made, you cannot change your mind. How your property is marketed The auction house will market your property in the weeks leading up to the auction, and it’s up to you to ensure it’s looking its best to attract potential buyers. You can choose to publicise your property yourself if you wish, perhaps through social media, and by spreading the word that it’s for sale to family and friends. The sale process The bid with the highest offer that’s accepted is your buyer – and you are legally committed to selling the property to them. Once the hammer falls, you will receive 10% of the cost of the property before the buyer leaves the auction, with the balance to be paid in full within 28 days. So it’s a speedy process, and you need to be prepared to move quickly. A buyer in need of a mortgage should have this in place if they are seriously bidding on your property, with the lender able to complete their application within three weeks of the sale. So...
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