Research the Area
Before you decide on a property, research the area. One of the best ways to get a feel for the area is to spend some time there. Although you will likely visit when viewing the property, schedule in some time to explore the area. You may wish to visit at different times of the day as visiting in the morning will help you see what commuting traffic is like and night time will help you see if the local area is noisy or potentially unsafe after dark. If you have children or planning to have children, then no doubt the close proximity of good schools would be a factor to consider.
Get a good solicitor
Buying a property is a significant long-term investment and, with so much at stake, expert specialist conveyancing can make the difference between a safe transaction or a long term liability. The property law team at Emery Johnson Astills appreciate that you have countless practical considerations including pressing timescales. Although it might be easy to view conveyancing as a simple and straightforward exercise, choosing the right solicitor can make all the difference.
Don’t be afraid
View properties carefully, checking for signs of damp, cracks and bad plumbing. If you are drawn to a particular property, don't be afraid to ask the estate agent (or seller if they are at the viewing) any questions you may have.
Choose the right survey
If you are buying a property with a mortgage your mortgage lender will require you to have at least a basic valuation survey, but this will not assess the state and condition of the property. Depending on the age of the property it may be worth getting a homebuyer's report which will highlight any serious problems. You can often arrange for the surveyor carrying out the valuation survey to do a homebuyer's report at the same time. If your property is over 100 years old, you may consider having a full structural survey which examines the structure in a lot more detail. This option is more expensive and must be factored into your finances.
On top of mortgage fees, you’ll have to budget for solicitor fees, valuation fees, surveys, removal costs and stamp duty. At Emery Johnson Astills, we can give a clear indication of solicitor’s costs and often a fixed fee so there are no hidden surprises along the way. This allows you to budget for your new property and focus on shopping for that new sofa or other soft furnishings.
First time buyers are exempt from paying stamp duty up to £300,000.00. If you buy a property up to £500,000.00 you will not pay Stamp Duty on the first £300,000.00 and but will pay 5% on the remaining amount.
If the property you are buying is worth over £500,000.00 you will pay the standard rates of Stamp Duty and will not qualify for first-time buyer’s relief. The standard rates are: -
- 0% on the first £125,000.00 paid (this includes shared ownership properties if the share is under £125,000.00)
- 2% on the property price between £125,001.00 and £250,000.00
- 5% on the property price between £250,001.00 and £925,000.00
- 10% on the property price between £925,001.00 and £1,500,000.00
- 12% on the property price of £1,500,001 and over
If you are buying a freehold property, you are legally responsible for the structure of the property from the point you exchange contracts. It is important you get building cover in place from this date. In terms of contents insurance, it makes sense to get cover before you move in. It is therefore a good idea to shop around for quotes in good time.
You may wish to consider a number of schemes that will assist you in purchasing your dream home. Depending on your situation, you may wish to consider the following schemes -
Help to Buy Equity Loan - If you want to own a newly built home in England, you could borrow up to 20% (up to 40% in London) of the purchase price from the government. You’d only need a 5% deposit and your mortgage would make up the rest.
Help to Buy: ISA - If you’re saving towards your first home, a Help to Buy: ISA will boost your savings by 25% when you save up to £200 a month.
Right to Buy - If you're a council tenant in England the Right to Buy scheme could help you buy the home you rent with a discount of up to £78,600 (£104,900 in London).
Keep your documents safe
Once you complete your house purchase your solicitor will provide you with essential documents for your safe-keeping. It is extremely important you keep these documents safe as you may be asked to produce them if you go on to sell the property. You may have title deeds if your property hasn’t been registered before, but this is becoming quite rare. You should get confirmation from your solicitors that s/he has registered you as owner of the property – your solicitor should provide you with a copy of the registered title showing you as ‘registered proprietor’.
You will also receive essential house purchase documents form your seller and these include things such as guarantees e.g. any recent damp proofing, new appliances, FENSA certificates, records of servicing of boiler, electrical certificates, building control certificates for any extensions or conversion work that has been done at the property. Keeping these documents in a safe place will prevent you from providing unnecessary insurance policies if you go on to sell the property.
Our Emery Johnson Astills Conveyancing Team in Leicester and Loughborough are happy to assist if you are buying or selling a house.
If you require assistance or further information, please contact our Emery Johnson Astills Conveyancing Team on 0116 2554 855 (Leicester) or 01509 610 312 (Loughborough).