It's really important for us here at Thornton Jones to stay involved and when the subject is relevant to our business we take part in The Law Society's #SolicitorChat which is a weekly Twitter discussion. Recently, Jess Taylor, one of our brilliant Conveyancing Solicitors, provided answers to these five key questions on the subject of 'Advice for house hunters'.
Affordability must be first on your list. “How much can I borrow” is a common question and knowing this as well as “what are my monthly mortgage repayments” will ensure that when you look for a new home you know how much you can afford now and in the future. Speak to a Financial Adviser to ascertain affordability and a Mortgage Broker to find a mortgage that best suits your circumstances. After a successful application for a mortgage you’ll receive a Mortgage Principle. At this point you are able to seriously view properties.
Once you’ve found a property and your offer accepted you can instruct a solicitor to undertake all of the legal activities. When the essential checks have been completed your solicitor will liaise with all other solicitors in the chain to agree a completion date.
A solicitor will carry out all of the legal tasks relating to the purchase of your new home ranging from Title Searches (to identify any anomalies with the land or building) to searches like Water and Drainage (to ascertain whether a drain, for example, runs beneath the land and whether it’s adopted or whether and repairs fall to the land owner). Your solicitor will liaise with all relevant parties in the process as well as your lender and will ensure that all of the ducks are lined up in readiness to complete on the transaction which is when the purchaser can go ahead and collect their keys!
As the new owner of the land and property, your solicitor will ensure that the Title relating to the land and property is updated to reflect the new legal owners.
Although DIY conveyancing is a possibility, most (if not all) lenders will insist on representation by a solicitor therefore DIY conveyancing is likely to be reserved for cash buyers only. The risks of DIY conveyancing can be major, and could lead to you purchasing a property which becomes unsaleable in the future or which you cannot use for the purposes you intended. The cost is not only a financial one but can also be emotional and distressing.
If, when doing your own conveyancing, you do make a mistake it is you who will be liable and not a solicitor. It’s unlikely that a DIYer will have the appropriate insurances to cover any errors whereas solicitors are both regulated and have insurances in place.
It’s common place for delays to occur when buying and selling property especially where there is a chain. When delays do occur there are things that home buyers and sellers should be aware of. Mortgage offers are valid for a limited time only so be aware of when it expires and speak with your Mortgage Adviser should the delays mean the offer will expire. An application to the lender may be required to extend the offer. Certain searches are also subject to expiry. If the delays are significant it may be necessary for your Solicitor to re-apply for the searches and as such you will need to pay for these searches to be performed.
If delays are due to your need to self-isolate because of Covid-19 then don’t soldier on. Remember that safety is paramount. Speak with your Conveyancer to keep them and everyone in the process up to date.
The Stamp Duty holiday is due to end on 31st March and it should be accepted that the process of buying and selling homes, especially where there’s a chain, can result in completion occurring after the holiday. As such purchasers should budget for this worst case scenario.
With the ave. property price hitting over £250k in 2020, the SDLT bill after the holiday could be £2500 or more. However it should be noted that during the SDLT holiday period, the ave. property price has increased by over £14000 which wipes out any SDLT holiday savings.
Stamp Duty is likely to be here to say so it’s just one of those things you must budget for when buying a property. The SDLT holiday only has limited application for investors and stamp duty and is not payable by first time buyers (up to a max. limit).