28 Mistakes Most People Make Moving House - Handy Checklist

  1. Not instructing a solicitor early enough

When buying property, most people often only decide to instruct a solicitor once they have found a house that they are seriously interested in buying.  However, instructing a solicitor from the very beginning means that the solicitor is able to provide advice on the property market in general, the specific area the buyer is interested in and the level of price likely to be obtained for different types of property in that area.  They will also be able to provide useful advice on the processes and procedures involved in buying a property.

  1. Not taking time to choose the right solicitor

A sensible way of choosing a solicitor is by personal recommendation.  For example, a friend or family member or work colleague may be able to recommend a particular firm they have recently used.  Alternatively, we would recommend appointing a local solicitor. Whilst it is possible to appoint a solicitor in any part of the country, the local solicitor will have valuable local knowledge and will be readily accessible for face to face meetings.

  1. Not taking the time to understand the legal terminology. For example, "conclusion of missives" or "Exchange and completion"

Conclusion of missives and completion are the key dates in any transaction. Conclusion of missives is the date when contracts for either sale or purchase are finally agreed between the respective parties.  At this point a binding contract comes into existence meaning neither party can withdraw without incurring liability for the breach. Both parties agree a completion date which is normally 4 weeks after completion of missives.  This is the date when you will move house.

  1. Not knowing when and if you can withdraw.

Always remember that you can withdraw from a transaction at any time before missives are concluded and that there is normally NO obligation to pay any fees or outlays of the other side. NB The Rules on this may be different where you are physically located and where you are buying, so please check this with your solicitor

  1. Not checking the likely timescale of the transaction at the outset.

It is important that you check with your solicitor the likely timescale of the transaction. On average it can take a minimum of 6 weeks from submitting a successful offer.  This period can be reduced or lengthened depending on the problems encountered with the legal work or the mortgage application. It is important that you keep in contact with your solicitor to give and obtain updates.  Furthermore, you should not organise a removal van until you have been advised of a definitive date for completion by your solicitor. TOP TIP# Try to complete on a Wednesday and schedule removal men for Monday to Wednesday rather than a Friday. t will be cheaper for you and you are more likely to get your chosen date.

6. "I don't have to get a Home Report"

Apart from certain limited exceptions, a seller requires to provide a Home Report prior to placing their property on the open market.  This Home Report consists of a Property Questionnaire, a detailed single survey which usually provides a mortgage valuation figure and finally, an Energy Performance Report.  The single survey may indicate that certain repairs are highly recommended by the surveyor. It is up to the seller whether he carries out these repairs. Such a decision will largely be affected by current general and property specific market conditions as well as affordability on the part of the seller.  Again, with limited exceptions, a Home Report must be issued to a prospective buyer if requested.

7. "I do not have to tell them that"

If you are asked any questions by the buyer (or their solicitor) about your property, then you must answer these honestly.  For example, the questionnaire element of the Home Report asks for details such as which boundaries you maintain on the property, whether you have had any disputes with your neighbours etc.  Failure to answer these enquires may jeopardise the sale later on and equally you could be liable to the buyer for withholding or providing false information.

8. "Capital Gains Tax never applies to me"

You do not normally have to pay Capital Gains Tax on the sale of your home as there is a specific exemption which covers private residence.  However, if you are selling a property in which you do not live, such as a second home, then you may have to pay Capital Gains Tax.

9. "I do not want to move out until after completion"

The contract states that you must vacate your property on the day of completion.  This means that you must have moved out, normally by 2pm on the day of completion.  However, it is not uncommon to agree an earlier time such as 12 noon. As well as physically vacating the property you usually need to remove all furniture etc and the property should be left clean and tidy.

10. "I have moved out of my property and it is still fully insured"

When a property is empty it is often wrongly assumed that as long as the building insurance policy is maintained then it will cover all the usual circumstances.  However, it is quite normal with a lot of insurance companies that certain risks will be excluded after the property has been empty for more than 30 days. For example, risks such as burst pipes and vandalism are commonly excluded.  Therefore, it is important that you ensure that such risks are covered on your policy in the event of the property being left empty.


11.Not viewing the property on more than one occasion

Before making an offer on a property, it is always important to consider whether the property is right for you.

12. Making an offer on another property when I have not received an offer on mine

There is nothing to stop you making an offer, however, you will be treated far more seriously if you have a buyer for your property who has concluded missives with you.

13. "Everything I see in the house will still be there when I move in"

Generally speaking you will be entitled to all fixtures and fittings in the property unless specifically excluded in the seller's sale particulars.  Similarly on such moveables as curtains and carpets as are included in the sales particulars or negotiated at the offer stage, will be included.

14. "I do not need a survey"

The purchase of a property is probably the largest financial transaction of your life and it is important that proper professional advice is obtained from a surveyor regarding the condition of the property.  A lot of people make two common mistakes regarding surveys. Firstly, if they do not need a mortgage they assume that a survey is not needed. Secondly, if a mortgage is needed they opt for the cheapest option, which is the basic valuation survey.  The basic valuation survey is purely for the lender's needs and contains only basic details about the condition of the property. Many lenders do accept the Home Report and its mortgage valuation element provided it is relatively recent e.g. 12 weeks old.  You should always check this with your lender or mortgage adviser before making a legally binding formal offer for a property. If the Home Report is not going to be approved by your lender then you may be well advised to obtain a Homebuyers Report. This is a survey commissioned directly by you with the surveyor which means there is a contractual relationship and the surveyor is under an obligation to provide advice regarding the condition of the property. The advice given is backed by professional indemnity insurance which means that you are covered in case any problems are overlooked.

15. Failing to resolve the structural defects before I move into the property

It is not uncommon for the Home Report, Homebuyers Report or structural survey to reveal defects, particularly with older properties.  When this happens you should find out if any estimates for repairs have been obtained by the seller. If they have not then you should commission your own.  If a property has some major repairs required then this may seriously affect your mortgage application and the amount of money your lender will be willing to advance.  You should liaise closely with both your mortgage advisor and  your solicitor in such a situation and should not legally commit to a purchase until such a matter is resolved to your and your lender's satisfaction.  We can recommend specialist who may be able to assist you in your investigations.
16. "I have to offer the asking price on a property"
You do not have to offer the asking price when buying a property.  It will largely depend on current market conditions as to whether you will offer above or below the "offer over" price or at or below the price if it is "fixed" at a certain level.
17. "The purchase price can be changed once my offer has been accepted"
The Scottish system of making formal offers to purchase is based on the principle of "good faith" and as such once accepted by the seller, the purchase price should not be changed prior to the conclusion of the missives.  If it is then under the rules of the Law Society of Scotland a buyer's solicitors should withdraw from acting for the buyer.
18."I can reduce the Stamp Duty by splitting the purchase price between the house itself and the fixtures and fittings"
It is normal when you make an offer for a property that the purchase price reflects the price of the house together with any fixtures and fittings.  You can agree a reasonable additional figure for fittings such as carpets and curtains which is not chargeable to Stamp Duty Land Tax. However, such a figure must reflect a reasonable valuation of these items otherwise the Inland Revenue will challenge the transaction.
19. "I can move into my new house when missives have been concluded"
You will only be able to move into your new home on the completion date.
20."As soon as I have completed my purchase I can rent the property out"
If you have a mortgage then you cannot normally rent a property without the permission of your lender.  They will normally only consent to this provided that a proper tenancy agreement is entered into which adheres to their requirements.
21. Failing to notify the service providers e.g. gas, electricity etc
Before moving into a property, it is important to find out who the service providers are.  You should also ensure that all service meters are read on the date the seller moves out of the property.  This will help to ensure that future bills are accurate and any disputes are avoided. A common mistake is to assume that the council tax for the property will remain the same.  It is possible that if there have been extensions to the property since the last valuation then your Council Tax could be re-valued following completion.  This may result in a higher bill.
22.Not telling my solicitor that I plan to extend the property
You should check if there is a restriction in your title deeds which may prevent extension or any such work being undertaken or may require you to obtain the consent of a former landowner such as the developer.  If you are considering making alterations to the property, then you should inform your solicitor who will be able to advise you on the possible issues.
23. "We are buying Joint Names.  When one of us dies the title to the property will automatically go to the survivor"
If you are buying jointly with someone else, equally or in unequal shares e.g. if you have contributed more towards the purchase price, then if there is no clause in your title deed which provides for your respective shares to go to the other automatically on death, the division of the deceased's share will be determined by the provision of his or her Will.  If there is no Will, then the deceased's share will be determined by the Laws of Intestacy. We can advise you on your best option for your particular circumstances as well as ensuring that, if required, your title deed contains the requisite clause for automatic survivorship.
24. Failing to take independent financial advice about the finance of the purchase
It is advisable to take advice from an independent financial adviser (IFA).  They will be able to advise you on the most suitable way to finance your purchase.  They can also advise you on the most suitable and competitive mortgage to meet your needs.  There are more than 30,000 mortgage products out there. A true independent Financial Adviser will survey the whole of the market to find the mortgage or financial product which is right for you.  Morisons LLP can recommend an independent financial adviser who will provide this service.
25. "I have to take out buildings and contents insurance with my lender"
Your mortgage lender will often try to sell you various products with the mortgage such as buildings and contents insurance.  It is important that you take proper independent advice on insurance and shop around for the most competitive deals.
26. Failing to consider what would happen if I lost my job
It is always worthwhile to consider what would happen if you lost your job.  You should speak to an Independent Financial Adviser regarding the various products which are available to cover you in the event that you are out of work and are unable to pay your mortgage.
27.Not considering what would happen if your partner/spouse died
You should consider taking out a life insurance policy which would pay off your mortgage if one of you dies.  At least if the worst happens, then your home will be secure. Take advice from an Independent Financial Adviser on the best policy to suit your needs.
If you require any financial advice regarding the above matters, please contact Your Own Solicitor and we will recommend an independent financial adviser.
28. "I do not need to make a Will or update the one I have"
Due to property prices increasing in recent years many people are now caught by the inheritance tax trap.  You should certainly have a Will to control where your property will go in the event of your death, but if your Will is property drafted it can also be tax efficient.  If you require any advice on this matter, please contact Ray@RaisingAngelFinance.co.uk
Disclaimer: This checklist is not legal advice. It is a guideline only. I know that you understand this as you're reading this so must be more sensible than average!

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