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!

What is the difference between using a Mortgage Broker vs. Going direct to the Bank? | Q&A Series

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Reading Time: 7mins

In 2015 my mother gave me some great advice. She knew that I had the desire to get my foot on the property ladder and as I had no idea where to start, she advised me to go to the Bank with my then fiancé and see what we were “worth”.

As my fiancé worked for HSBC at the time, we booked an appointment with a Mortgage Advisor, disclosed our salaries, savings, commitments etc and based on our situation she gave us a flat maximum amount that we’d be able to borrow.

This meant that regardless of what property we found, that’s the maximum Mortgage amount that we qualified for.

I can’t remember what that max lend was, but let’s just say for arguments sake that it was £300,000. This means that even if there were mortgage deals at HSBC where you could get a 90% Mortgage with a 10% deposit and the property we sought after was £450,00, we would have to cough up £150,000 and not the simple 10% deposit of £45,000 that the product suggests. This is due to what we were “worth” and the maximum HSBC was happy to lend to us based on our salaries, credit score etc.

I hope this makes sense.

Here’s where Mortgage Brokers come in to play…

There are numerous High Street Lenders, and I suppose my finance and I could of gone up and down the streets from various bank to the next getting a rough idea of what they’d lend us, but this is extremely tedious and time consuming.

Our next point of contact was a Mortgage Broker which my finance found on Google – Alexander Hall.

We got in touch with a Mortgage Broker who was amazing! He offered an amazing service and until this day, I still remember his name.

The Mortgage Broker took more or less the same information we provided to HSBC and sourced which lender would give us what we were looking for.

“Source” the phrase used to describe the action taken on a system similar to Google for lenders. Most lenders are on this system and the great thing is that some Mortgage Brokers get exclusive rates and deals from lenders. For example the lowest rate at TSB if you were to walk in to a High Street Bank could be say 2.04% however with a broker, they have access to exclusive interest rates like 1.69% for TSB opposed to the 2.04% High Street rate. That’s a huge difference!

To cut a long story short, the Broker found us a lender that was willing to lend us way more than HSBC and we were able to then look for an affordable property, make an Offer and secure a Mortgage.

Round up.

The 3 Major difference between a High Street lender and a Mortgage Broker are:

1. Time

High Street Lender

They tend to have a 2 week wait for you to be able to secure an appointment with a Mortgage Advisor.

Application to Mortgage Offer can take anything from 1 Month – 6 Months.

Broker

For many no appointment is needed. You can get in touch with your Mortgage Broker over the phone/on email with the option to book in a face to face meeting if that’s your preference. However some brokers require face to face interaction like Capricorn Financial and Alexander Hall due to verification etc.

You also have the option to do everything online and through a chat window. Convenient and no need for any face to face interaction or time consuming meetings. Brokerages like Habito and Mojo operate in this kind of manner.

Application to Offer can take anything from 3 working days to 21 days. (I’ve seen case where a full Mortgage Application was submitted and an Offer followed immediately after due to the lender being able to verify the applicants electronically and carrying out a desktop valuation) – rare but possible.

2. Interest Rates

High Street Lender
What you see is what you get.

Dependent on the Bank of England base rate.

Not many options

Broker
Options galore.

You can play with the term length and Mortgage features (E.g cash back, free legal representation, split terms, payment holidays)

The Broker will be aware of when new rates are going to be introduced/when old rates are going to be pulled off of the market.

3. Convenience

High Street Lender
They will require hard copies of documentation

Proof of ID

Proof of Address

Bank Statements etc.

Broker
Hard copies of documentation not required

PDF copies acceptable

The convenience of being able to email across any additional information required from you.

Some people don’t like the idea of using unpopular lenders like “The Mortgage Works” or “Atom”, but if getting value for your money is important to you, I highly suggest using a Mortgage Broker.

Help to Buy: Equity Loan

Help to Buy

Reading time: 3 mins

In this month of October, we have been solely talking about the various Help to Buy schemes available.

The Help to Buy initiative was a way of assisting young first-time buyers acquire their first home. At a time where it almost seemed impossible for the millennial to own a property in the ever changing and increasing property market, the government stepped in to lend a hand.

However, there is a catch. Nothing in life is free and that’s why it is important to know the pros and cons of any scheme you commit to.

These scheme consist of the following:

Help to Buy ISA

Lifetime ISA Post due 29th October

Equity Loan

Shared Ownership

Mortgage Guarantee Scheme Withdrawn November 2016

 

What is a Help to Buy Equity Loan?

 

The Government lends you up to 20% of the cost of your newly built home, so you’ll only need a 5% cash deposit and a 75% mortgage to make up the rest.

This scheme is available to First-time buyers and Home movers.

For example:

Purchase price: £200,000

Your contribution to the deposit: £10,000

The Governments contribution to the deposit: £40,000

Mortgage Amount: £150,000 75% LTV

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You won’t be charged loan fees or interest on the 20% loan for the first five years of owning your home, however you will have to pay £12 management fees each year.

After 5 years, you will have to start paying back the 20% you initially borrowed, plus interest and your monthly Mortgage payments

ALERT

Things to bare in mind:

  1. Interest kicks in after five years, and could amount to a chunky sum over time.
  2. The Government will take the same percentage of the sale price as you opted for when you took out your equity loan (regardless of how much the loan was originally for) when the property is sold.
  3. You can repay part or all of the loan early, but the Government will only accept this if it’s a minimum of 10% of the property’s current value.

Selling your property

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Home Mover

Reading Time: 2 mins

Selling your property can be basic, however with so many different schemes and second charges, there are multiple factors to consider.

Today we are going to focus on a basic sale.

You are either:

  1. A home Mover
  2. Deciding to sell and rent going forward/move in with family.

“I’m not too sure about when, but I know that I want to sell my property this year”.

“I’ve got my eyes on a property, I’m ready to make an Offer, but I haven’t even put my property on the market yet”.

“I want to move, but I haven’t got my eyes on a property just yet, they’re just not ticking all of the boxes”.

My answer to all of the above is to get in touch with the local Estate Agency’s in your area and put your property up for sale.

Once it’s up, you can always take it down if you change your mind. The longer you procrastinate doing nothing, no one is viewing your property, no one knows you’re considering selling up and once you see a property you are interested in and tight deadlines follow, you’ll be anxious and overwhelmed with the process.

STEP 1: Contact local agents and explain your situation

STEP 2: Get them round to view your property and give you a rough idea of what your property is worth, what properties in your area have been sold for of late

STEP 3: Understand the agents charge policy. Some charge 1% of the sale price, other 0.5%, 0.25% etc and there are a variety of packages including pictures, Zoopla listings etc that you need to be aware of

STEP 4: Solicitor – find one. Just like with a purchase, you’ll need a solicitor to act on your behalf. They will liaise with the buyers solicitors to arrange particulars of the contracts, exchange and completion dates.

STEP 5: Funds – Once the sale is done and monies are received, your solicitor will pay off your existing Mortgage and the excess will be yours.

STEP 6: Buying a new home – The excess funds will be used as a deposit towards your new home. That’s why it’s important to sell and buy simultaneously.

OR

STEP 6: Renting/Moving in with family – The excess funds will be wired to the account of your chance savings, current, bond etc.

FAQ’s

What about Tax?

Private Residence Relief. You don’t pay Capital Gains Tax when you sell (or ‘dispose of’) your home if all of the following apply: you have one home and you’ve lived in it as your main home for all the time you’ve owned it. you haven’t let part of it out – this doesn’t include having a single lodger.

What if I bought my house under a government scheme or have a second charge in place?

Consult a solicitor. One that specialities in properties sold under your scheme/second charges before you put it up for sale. You need to understand the process, legalities and personal cost to you.