Buyer FAQ

Types of survey reports and common issues raised by the surveyor

Roof underfelt is a water barrier that is installed underneath the main roof covering. It is used under current building regs but old properties often don’t have it if the roof hasn’t been replaced recently. Underfelt is used as ‘fail safe’ just in case the main roof covering fails. Such as a slipped or missing tile. It is not essential if you don’t have an underfelt. However your roof should be inspected and any slipped/missing/damaged tiles should be replaced ensuring your roof is water tight.

Dont panic! Often referred to as ‘Elevated moisture readings’ in surveys. There are different types of damp and they are are all a symptom of another issue that needs to be identified and fixed. You dont necessarily need to ‘go the whole hog’ as sometimes its the quick easy fix that cures the issue. Its important to identify the cause and carry out the remedial works. They dont necessarily cost allot to put right. So be a smart investor and establish the cost and renegotiate on the price if possible.

Penetrative damp is when moisture is penetrating through an external wall. A common cause is faulty guttering, causing rain water to run down the wall. Damaged render, failed window perimeter seals. All of these are pretty inexpensive to put right. So be smart and dont run like a novice investor.

Rising damp is when moisture is being drawn up through a wall by capillary action. Small straw like channels in the brick work are ‘sucking’ the water up. This only occurs in two scenarios. The damp proof course (DPC) has failed or has been ‘bridged’. This can be due to a number of factors.

  • Debris in the wall cavity or subfloor void.
  • Internal or external renders / plasters overlapping the DPC
  • External ground levels being raised above the DPC.
  • Inappropriate insulation material in the cavity.
  • Solid floors
  • Intersecting masonry structures / abutting garden walls

There are different levels of survey you should consider when buying a property. The cost depends on the location and property price.

Home Buyers Survey (HBS) – Level 1 – £300 -£900. This will cover any visible defects and highlighting any issues that need urgent attention. They often use a condition rating system with level 3 items needing urgent attention, level 2 – items that need attention, Level 1 – Acceptable condition.

HBS Level 2 £400 – £1000, In addition to HBS level 1. Level 2 will give advice on issues and repairs and identify the condition of the property the relative importance of the repairs.

HBS Level 3 £630 – £1500, Previously referred to a ‘Full Structural Survey’. This report in addition to levels 1 and 2. It will provide an in depth look at all defects down to minor items such as light switches/fittings.

Often survey providers will require upfront payment as a lot of work goes into them. They range in price and normally follow the RICS reporting layout.

This year we have seen lead times as much as 5 weeks. With another 7 days to receive the report. So its best to book in as soon as you can. We advise to book this in as soon as the memorandum of sale has been issued and the vendors solicitor has confirmed their instruction.

Letting your property - The law

It is now a legal requirement for all rental properties to have a valid Gas safe certificate which is valid for 1 year and a Electrical Installation and Condition report (EICR) which is valid for 4 years. Everytime a new tenancy begins your tenant will have to be issued with this. If you are intending to live at the property then technically you don’t need either of these. However you should consider your own safety just like you consider your tenants safety. We advise to have these tested even if you reside in the property.

This can be a sensible thing to do. If the property has any issues and needs a full rewire. We are still in a good position to renegotiate the purchase price. However, carrying out these tests will cost you approximately £350 before you are the legal owner.

An EPC is a properties Energy Performance Certificate. Its a system which grades a properties energy efficiency, Its current status and its potential. Bandings from A-G are used. A property currently needs to be a grade of A-E to legally rent out. You will need to provide an EPC certificate (valid for 10 years and will cost £60 – £90) at every tenancy. Failing to do so will render any section 21 eviction claim void. There are intentions to raise the minimum level of E for rental property to C for new tenancies from 2025 and all tenancies by 2028. So be ready and plan to improve your EPC by carrying out any required work. This work is listed on the EPC.

How best to get ready to buy and what to expect

This shouldn’t be seen as something to be worried about. Its important and the law to pass these checks. Sadly. Everyone in the chain needs to satisfied and pass your AML checks. That means that you will have to go through AML checks with us, the agent and the solicitor. You may ask why the checks are inconsistent. The reason is the law is interpreted in different ways. So checks vary from who you are dealing with. Some companies don’t even carry out AML checks. You should prepare your ID, proof of address and proof of funds. You will also need to answer some questions such as ‘Where has your money come from’, ‘What do you do for work?’ and ‘Where did this large money transfer come from’. Answering these should be simple and its just a process to go through when buying property. We are required to carry out a risk assessment and keep your details on file for 5 years.

Our hints and tips that save you money

This is a difficult thing to establish without intrusive checks. However there are some tricks to determine if the property is likely to need electrical works.

What condition is the consumer unit? If its old, damaged with only 3 or 4 fuses then its likely the property will need new cables run. Does it have RCD’s (Residual Current Devices). If not then it is likely to fail an EICR and a new consumer unit installed. If the ceiling lights are positioned off centre to the room and near the window. This is how old lighting circuits were installed. To prevent people from seeing into the room. So if this is the case then the cable could be old and need upgrading. Old lighting circuits often were installed without an earth cable. Meaning it will fail an EICR. This can also be found out by removing a light switch on the wall so if one is loose or missing at a viewing. Check to see if you have a green and yellow wire within the core of the cable.

Often buyers do not realise that the buying process can be shortened by months if they are ready. Contact your agent and solicitor in advanced. Ask them to take you through AML prior to offering on any property. Have all your documents ready, proof of funds, Identification, proof of address and funding in place. If getting a mortgage. Provide the same documents to your lender or broker. Have them issue you a Decision in principle with a mortgage product you are happy to proceed with. The start looking for your property!

Another way is to never sit on anything too long. If you are asked to provide additional documents or answer some questions by us or your solicitor. Send them back right away. Tell your solicitor how quickly you want to complete and if this is feasible before instructing them. Identify whether they are on target. Ask your solicitor for an update every 2 weeks.

The legal process of buying a property

Like anything, go with a recommendation. If someone has recommended a firm then thats a good start. You can also ask the conveyancer some questions like. How many files are you currently working on? How many support staff do you have? Are they qualified? How long do you normally take to complete the process on my type of property? We only recommend solicitors that we have worked with numerous times. We have direct contact with them and they get the job done in a timely fashion.

Searches are what your solicitor will apply for/request. They will identify any potential issues with the area in which the property sits. There are currently 9 searches and all take time to come back. A solicitor will require a fee of £300 upfront to order these.

The main searches are:

  1. Local authority search (LAS): This search finds out information on any nearby road schemes, contaminations, or planning works as well as several smaller searches.
  2. Planning search: Planning searches look for details of any existing planning consents or planning applications within a 250-metre radius of a property.
  3. Drainage and water search: This search is to find out where all the drainage systems are around a property and show if these are at risk of affecting the property in the future.
  4. Environmental search: These look at issues such as flood risk, subsidence risk, previous uses of land and cover you for environmental issues within 500 metres of the house.
  5. Flood risk search: If the property you want to buy is near to water. For example; a river, lake, reservoir or coastline, then this search will reveal how high the risk of flooding is in the area.
  6. Coal mining and mining searches: Old tunnels may run beneath a property. This is common if it is in an area that was once used for coal, brine or salt mining. These old tunnels can put a property at risk of subsidence. So it’s really important to know what lies beneath a property before buying.
  7. Chancel repair search: Most people don’t even know that certain properties have a liability to the local parish for church for repairs, so this search will check that out. It usually depends on the historic standing of the property and the parish itself. You can generally buy insurance to cover you for any such future bills.
  8. Land registry pre-completion search: This search will reveal if the individual selling the property is the legitimate owner of the property and if any bankruptcy has taken place. It ensures that the property is legally safe to buy.
  9. High-speed rail (HS2): HS2 is the new high-speed railway of which phase 1 due to open in less than 8 years. The railway will link London, Birmingham and the north-west with trains traveling up to 225mph. This search will check if the property you’re interested in is affected by the planned and extensive works which will cover 25 destinations and serve over 30 million people.

These are questions that require an answer. Once your solicitor receives the draft contract from the seller. They will raise enquiries into the details of the property. Some examples are:

  • Has the property ever suffered from flooding;
  • Are there any structural issues such as tress nearby or foundation issues;
  • Have there even been any issues with subsidence;
  • Has the seller complied with the covenants in the title
  • Enquiries on the windows in the property
  • What is the actual agreement over the shared driveway

It’s important these are raised asap as it will take some time for the seller’s solicitor to gather the answers.

Exchange of contracts is when both signed contracts are exchanged by the buyer and seller. This is the point of no return. You are legally obliged to purchase the property and the seller legally obliged to sell. Completion is when the legal ownership physically changes. Often when funds are sent. Most transactions have simultaneous exchange and completion dates.

Financing your purchase

Yes absolutely. We have many clients that have used different brokers in the past. We have selected the best ones and are available to you.

There are many lenders out there and all provide similar mortgage or lending products. Some lenders are incredibly slow and you seriously risk losing a deal by choosing one of these. Luckily we have dealt with most lenders and can advise on the best ones to deal with. Such as HSBC, Hampshire Bank Trust and Natwest. These seem to provide competitive rates and can give you a mortgage offer inside of 6 weeks. Lenders like Skipton or Gatehouse take as long as 5 months and quite often are the cause of the dela fallen through and the seller withdrawing.

Types of construction and property types

This is when a building is graded for its architectural and historic interest. It brings the property into the planning system where any alterations need to be approved. Grade I listed are of exceptional interest and Grade II are of special interest. 97.7% of listed properties are Grade II listed.

This is broadly used to describe a property that built of brick or stone with a tiled roof. Anything that falls outside this such as timber framed or prefabricated will be classed as non-standard. Non standard construction properties often are cheaper with less lenders available. Meaning when reselling the amount of buyers available to you will be lower. Lenders will often offer a lower loan to value (LTV) on any mortgage product.

Inside your property

A consumer unit is where all your electrical circuits junction. They run around the property and are joined here with a RCD (Residual Current Device). The RCD’s will ‘trip’ or cut off the electrical supply to a particular circuit if there is fault. Such as a faulty appliance plugged into that circuit. The consumer unit is connected to the electrical supply from the ‘grid’ via a electric meter that monitors your usage.

Letting your property

Full management ranges from agent and area. These typically range between 8-12% of the gross rent. Sometimes if you have multiple properties with the same agent they can offer you a lower rate.

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