How to Guide: Dealing with Solicitors and ensuring your Property Purchase is dealt with in a timely manner

Over the years we have discussed putting in the ground work to ensure that your credit is up to par and you have the right processes in place to save more than you spend.

We then went on to discuss the Mortgage Application process, affordability and the difference between a Mortgage Broker and going straight to a High Street Bank.

In the midst of the above we discussed the valuation process, covenants and the enemy of progress that is known as Japanese knot weed.

We’ve briefly touched on making an Offer on a property and ways in which you can justify offering 5 to 10 thousand pounds less than the asking price.

Today we are going to focus on the last leg of the property acquisition process – Solicitors!

It is so easy to get tangled up in a tumbleweed of legal jargon and be scared away by the legal process, but it is quite simple, especially with Residential purchases.

Below are my top 3 tips to dealing with solicitors and ensuring your case is dealt with in a timely manner.

  1. Fill out all questionnaires and property packs following the instructions of your solicitors to a T. If it says to use block capitals and black ink, do it! If for whatever reason the solicitors forget to do something later on down the line, they can turn that delay back around on you and claim that they were waiting for “correctly filled out forms”.

2. Reply to all emails in a timely manner responding to ALL questions. If you need to do a little bit of research, do it. Don’t reply to an email in parts. Respond answering all questions in one go. Be very specific and over share if you think any detail will help. Delays often occur when solicitors have a response to question 1 & 3, but are waiting for a response to question 2. This may come weeks later and get lost within the email thread.

3. Searches. These need to be done promptly as some can take up to 6 weeks to come back. Some solicitors require some sort of payment before carrying out any searches as these are non-refundable and will need to be paid for whether the transaction goes ahead or not. Pay the fee and get the ball rolling from day 1.

There are so many other details we can dive in to, but the top 3 have sometimes been the difference between someone completing on their purchase in 7 weeks and someone completing in 7 months.

“Movers are more likely to benefit from the Stamp Duty holiday than first time buyers”.

Original picture: Woburn Sands area

It’s no secret that we are in a pandemic. The Government has been updating us quite frequently regarding new procedures and initiatives to help the economy and those who are going through a really hard time.

One of the initiatives that was announced was the Stamp Duty holiday. This was a bid to boost Britains housing market.

What this means is that someone who decided to sell their home and buy a new one would no longer have to pay stamp duty on the new property providing it cost them £500,000 or less.

This initiative doesn’t do much for first time buyers as they haven’t had to pay stamp duty on the first £300,000 of their first property for some time, however, previously they would of had to pay 5% on the excess amount between £300,001 – £500,000. 

As soon as this initiative was announced, the housing market picked up massively. The boost most definitely took place!

Home owners used this opportunity to save thousands of pounds. 

To give you an idea of how great this initiative is, check out this example:

Someone sells their house for £350,000, moves and buys a house for £400,000 as they want to upsize and have enough equity to do so. In 2019 and even up to 8 July 2020, they would of had to pay £10,000 in stamp duty. 

Fast forward to now, this person would pay £0 stamp duty hence the urgency in the housing market.

Many people are trying to move, upsize, downsize and the rest of it before the end of March 2021. April 2021 is the beginning of a new financial year and looking at the deficit the country is currently in due to furlough, bail out funds and the rest of it, we are all going to pay with the potential increase of taxes and the return of stamp duty!

We also have another issue on our hands. Due to the property demand being high, many are prepared to pay a lot more for certain properties in the way of a bidding war…

This is a discussion for next week. 

How to Guide: Starting a New Job remotely

It’s that season. Lockdown, COVID and redundancies. But it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom. 

Some have found better opportunities, progressed and attained better paid jobs saving more (on travel) whilst working remotely. 

Others were made redundant and forced to finally kick start their passion or made huge U turns in their careers they were previously too scared to do – 👏🏾 you’ve got this!

The field you work in will determine your onboarding, training and use of numerous systems.

Today I will be focusing on those who work in fields that doesn’t require physical labour and are able to work remotely.

5 Tips to starting a new job remotely – learn quick and stand out:

  1. Research the company. Understand it’s infrastructure, values and whose who

  2. Be bold. Add relevant people on LinkedIn. Diarise catch ups so that you can get to know as many people in the company as possible. Don’t get lost in the matrix or simply be an employee number at HR.

  3. Screen record! If you’re being taught a new system or process, screen record it! This will enable you to watch it back as much times as you want and use the video in real time when you’re carrying out the task. This limits the amount of time you bother people and will help you to be more efficient.

  4. Use a diary, notepad or virtual sticky note to bullet point your tasks. Add to the list as new things pop up and cross them off as you complete them. Use a scorecard system. What is urgent? What is time sensitive? What can be done tomorrow?

  5. Take your breaks! It is so easy to start early, eat on the job and finish late. Don’t do this! Work life balance is important and overworking will quickly turn what you thought was your dream job in to something you resent, not to mention the risk of burn out. Whilst it’s important to perform, it’s also important to work smart, not hard. Use spreadsheets, put forward innovative ideas that eradicate those mundane tasks and know that you’ve got this! Believe in yourself! 

Starting a new job remotely can be daunting, but I promise you that if you do my top 5 tips, the whole experience will be a lot easier!

All the best and congratulations on your new role! 

If it doesn’t happen now, it never will…

Sometimes we put an irrational amount of pressure on ourselves to achieve our financial goals. When we aren’t feeling at our best, we beat ourselves up, especially when we unconsciously compare ourselves to our ‘age mates’ which at times can feel like they are winning this invisible race society has created.

Make no mistake, I don’t question the happiness of those people who have posted their version of success on social media (which at times could be glitter not gold) however, what I question is our ability to asses whether we are allowing said news to contribute to the ridiculous amounts of pressure we put on ourselves, all because:

“I’m almost *insert age here* and I’m not married”

“I’ve been working my butt off, but can’t seem to save” 

“I Should be further ahead in my career at my age”

“I should be buying my 1st home by now”

“I  *insert negative self talk*

Social media has amongst other things created urgency to achieve things simply because everyone on our feeds are sharing their wins all at the same time.

Once upon a time in what we now call the dark ages (before facebook) we didn’t really have exposure to so many other ‘lanes’. Of course we would hear about other people’s successes, but it wouldn’t be so in your face.

What’s your point Joseph?! In short I’m pretty certain we as a society have become impatient. We are a generation that thrives of INSTANT gratification. 

This is by no means a message to bash social media or encourage you to go off grid, but actually the key message I want you to take away from this is to stop. Take a breather. Stop putting yourself under the wrong kind of pressure. I guess it is a longer way of saying trust the process, and stay in your lane. 

Task:
Think about the thing that is distracting you from your lane, realign yourself and go at your pace. 

P.S. the more time you spend worrying and beating yourself up the less time you are spending on achieving your dreams. You’ve got this! 

London working, outside London Living: 5 Steps to making it outside London.

Today we are going to be discussing something that is very close to home for me – the big commute!

It’s no secret that London is the place to be in order to receive a quality salary. This tends to be because salaries incorporate the extortionate costs of zone 1-3 travel and the general cost of living. Let’s not forget that London is the heart of the UK. London is home to the Bank of England, the worldwide beloved Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament to name a few! 

Throughout my career from retail right through to the financial sector I have always met people that lived in areas I had never heard of either on the outskirts or far out of London. They’d always express how affordable it was to maintain a high quality of life, whilst commuting to London and still having a considerable amount of disposable cash.

I have had the experience of renting in London for around 6 years and the most I have spent on rent is £1,200 per calendar month for a 1 bed apartment and then an additional £500 on bills & groceries. That’s a whopping £1,700 to have a roof over my head and food in my stomach. Let’s not forget that we haven’t even discussed the cost of travel, luxuries and unexpected miscellaneous expenses. I’d say my monthly expenses were not too shy of £2,500 – crazy!

Living outside London I have realised that I am able to keep the same quality salary, whilst reducing my outgoings, in turn being able to save more and invest elsewhere. Not to mention that the house prices are extremely affordable. I went from paying £1,200PCM on rent, to under £500 on my monthly Mortgage. 

Thinking about making the big move?

Here’s some tips and things to consider… 

5 Steps to making it outside London:

  1. Drive. Get your driving licence so that you don’t have to depend on your partner, taxi’s or public transport. Honestly, public transport is shocking! You can expect a bus every 30mins. 


  2. Commute. Live somewhere that is within walking/cycle distance of the train station. If you live far from the train station, you will have to drive, pay for parking or a taxi and this is counterproductive.


  3. Flexible working. The current climate has meant that the hands of many employers have been forced to be more flexible with their employees. Not commuting in to the office everyday can take some pressure off both financially and physically, this also allows you to recharge your batteries, in turn making you a lot more productive. 


  4. Opt for a bigger space. Outside London the pound goes a lot further. If you can, opt for a house/apartment with a spare room. Make this your office. Try to avoid working on your bed hunched over on your laptop. And if you can stretch a bit further, go for somewhere that has a garden or a lovely communal outdoor space.


  5. New Normal. Have an open mind. Things are going to be different, try new things. You can’t expect that London ambiance, because after all, it’s not London. 

Image Source: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/02/houses-parliament-are-falling-down

A buyers Market, not a sellers…

It’s no secret that Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the entire world.

Millions have lost their jobs. Off of the back of this, many will have to take payment holidays on their mortgages, some may eventually fall behind on mortgage payments and some may even lose their homes due to repossession. 

What does this mean for the market?

I’m going to focus on 2 things today.

  1. It will be a buyers market, not a sellers 
  2. Lenders will have to recover a lot of unpaid debt and be a lot more frugal with who they lend to

What does this mean for you? 

The person with a home to sell…

  • Now is the time! Sell as soon as possible and sit on the funds. Move in with family, think about short term renting and sit on the proceeds of the sale as in a few months, you will be able to buy a bigger house for a lot less.
  • Fast forward a few months… If you take too long to take the leap to put your property up for sale, you may need to take an Offer much less than what you wished for.

Are you in a chain? There’ll be more about what can do next week… 

 The person with a home to buy…

  • Hold your horses. There are going to be many houses to choose from and many people desperate to sell them so this may work in your favour when it comes to negotiating on price. 
  • You may need to front more deposit than you may have initially planned due to Mortgage products being quite unstable. 90% Mortgages which require a 10% deposit have been pulled and reintroduced week by week. Lenders may also be a lot more picky with who they lend to, request much more information and be much quicker to decline applicants who don’t fit within their risk appetite 

Key take aways

Home Sellers

  • The time is now!

Home Buyers

  • Be patient. Fix your credit & save save save!

All information on my blog is opinion driven based on market trends, statistics and forecasts regarding the current situation. 

*Photo Source https://www.standard.co.uk/news/estate-agents-face-ban-on-for-sale-signs-6781275.html

Questions to ask when viewing a property

1. When was the last time the *electrics were checked? (Particularly important for Victorian/Edwardian houses, not so relevant for New Builds)

2. Has there ever been any water damage to the property? Flood, roof leak etc.

3. How long has the property been on the market?

4. Roughly how much are the monthly property related bills? Water, gas, electric, council tax, Building insurance2, internet

5. How old is the roof? (Particularly important for Victorian/Edwardian houses, not so relevant for New Builds)

6. Have the owners done any renovations within the last 5 years?

7. How long have the owners lived here?

8. How far is the supermarket/train station?

9. What is the parking like? Do you have an allocated spot, drive way or is it first come first served?

10. Whats the crime like in the area? 

11. Does the property have a restrictive 3covenant? If the Agent is unsure, dig!

12. Is there a 4chain? How quickly does/can the owner want to proceed to completion?

Ultimately, the seller/agent has one goal, sell the property! Take what they say with a pinch of salt and do some research of your own. Ask friends that live in/know of the area. Get a feel for the vibe on the street.

Go to your official viewing in the day and once you feel like you are willing to proceed with the purchase, visit the property and its surrounding area in the night to get a real feel for what it’d be like living there. Pay close attention to noise, anti social behaviour, over crowded parking etc. 

1Electrics are particularly important, you can reasonably knock off £10,000 from the asking price of a property if the electrics have not been given the once over within the last 10 years. This is something you will definitely have to get done as soon as possible, this involves checking plug sockets, making sure no wires/cable are frayed and checking that the lights are working properly with no buzzing sound. Worse case scenario you will have to rewire the property. Rewiring a property is not cheap, but if required, is essential for older houses to prevent electrical fault damage which can ultimately lead to fires etc. 

2Building insurance is a necessity and legal requirement for a House. It is not required for a flat as you are covered under the ground rent that you pay to the Landlord/Freeholder. 

3A restrictive covenant can encourage neighbours to be to create harmony and deter anti social behaviour. It can also prevent you from carrying out certain actions like extensions, loft conversions or converting the house in to flats etc.

Obtain copies of the properties title from the official Land Registry website to be sure there’s no surprises.

4A property chain is created when more than one buyer is involved in a transaction. For example, say you are buying a home from someone and they are moving to a new home they are buying from another. That is an upward property chain, meaning that your completion date (when you move in) is likely to be affected by the date when your seller can move into their new home too.

If you’d like to add to the list of questions to ask when viewing a property, feel free to comment below. Happy House Hunting!