“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. 

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!

The Enemy: Japanese Knotweed

What is Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is a weed that spreads rapidly. In winter the plant dies back to ground level but by early summer the bamboo-like stems emerge from rhizomes deep underground to shoot to over 7ft, suppressing all other plant growth.

Why having Japanese Knotweed at a property is a no go…

It’s pretty self explanatory, but from a Mortgage perspective, most surveyors will note Japanese Knotweed as a negative find at a property and will deem a property unsuitable for Mortgage purposes due to the aggressiveness of it. However other surveyors will note Japanese Knotweed as a problem and insist that it is seen to and removed by a specialist before giving the property a value.

Loopholes

Not all home owners know that their property has Japanese Knotweed, which means potential buyers won’t know either and if not noticed when a survey is done on the property, good news, you’ve got away with it. However when you decide to move on and the weed has grown out of control and is noticeable, you may find it very costly and difficult to get the property off of your hands.

It’s not a good idea to hide the presence of knotweed

Whilst it may make the sale easier, the TA6 form now has a specific question about knotweed.  Concealing the presence of knotweed could prove to be an expensive mistake, as the buyer may have a case for misrepresentation and against the seller and report the acting agent to the authorities for breach of CPR regulations. 

What can be done… 

Removal

  1. The two main knotweed removal methods are herbicide treatment and physical removal. 
  • Herbicide Treatment is lower in cost but takes at least one growing season, often more. It’s the least disruptive method, but not suitable where there are plans that result in substantial disturbance of the the ground e.g. construction or landscaping works.
  • Physical Removal such as Environet’s Resi-dig-out™. This eco-innovative removal method can be completed any time of the year, and takes a matter of days. 

2. Don’t buy that property if Japanese Knotweed is present. Do your due diligence.