Selling a property – Frequently Asked Questions:
1. When is the best time to sell in London?
The central London property market is unlike any other in the UK.
Outside of the capital, you may be advised to sell in the spring. Christmas is out of the way, more buyers are around (in the summer everyone’s on holiday) and your home and garden are looking their best. However, selling in London isn’t governed by the seasons, it’s entirely driven by confidence in the UK economy.
Equally, a crisis in overseas economies can spark a flood of investment in the London property market.
2. What should I do if my property has been left vacant?
If your property has been empty for a while, it can often feel a little sad and cold.
The first thing to do is throw open the windows and give it an airing. If the property is an empty shell, it may help to add life by dressing the rooms with furniture and lighting.
If a viewing has been arranged on a cold day, create a warm welcome by turning the thermostat up a degree or two.
Lastly, don’t forget the outside space. Get rid of weeds and keep the lawn trimmed – first impressions count.
3. Will decorating help with a sale?
If your property’s looking a little tired, it makes sense to bring it back up to scratch. A fresh coat of paint can make a room feel bigger and brighter, it also demonstrates that your property has been well looked after.
Re-paint magnolia walls and any brightly coloured feature walls. If you’re completely re-decorating, stick to light, natural and neutral colours such cool or warm greys, alternatively you can never go far wrong with matt white. Don’t forget to touch-up trims and mouldings.
You can also add a splash of colour to dull corners with bunches of flowers.
4. What are the common mistakes that sellers make?
It’s easy to be seduced by the highest valuation, so our advice is to obtain valuations from three or four Estate Agents and opt for the average price, ignoring any wildly high or low figures.
b) Ignoring structural problems:
If you know that your property has serious structural issues, make sure you have them fixed before putting it on the market.
If you disregard and don’t disclose them, they will most likely come up on the survey and your buyer will either run a mile or demand a very large discount on the agreed purchase price.
c) Forgetting to de-clutter:
The majority of buyers find it difficult to see beyond a messy room. Clutter hides your property from potential buyers and can be an immediate deal breaker. By removing all the unnecessary stuff (that we all accumulate over time), you will give your property a feeling of space.
This is perhaps the least expensive way to make your property sales-ready.
5. Why hasn’t my property sold?
Properties that don’t shift usually suffer from a combination of poor presentation and overpricing. You should take a step back and be honest with yourself. Is every room dressed to look its best or could it do with a makeover?
Ask your agent to provide recent sales data so that the asking price can be adjusted if necessary. It’s easy to become emotionally entangled with selling a property.
If it isn’t selling, you need to be open to honest feedback from your agent and take their professional advice.
Buying a property – Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Where should I invest in West London?
Property prices in west London are amongst the highest in the country. However, there are still places that hold great investment opportunities.
Bayswater remains a real hot spot thanks to its period architecture and excellent transport links. There are great swathes of land around Old Oak Common and Kensal Rise which are lined up for major development.
Equally there is always a lot of sense in buying ‘best in class’ and the prime streets around Notting Hill and Kensington and North Kensington remain great places to invest, and live.
2. How long does it take to buy a property?
Buying a property can often be a tedious and drawn-out process. It’s quite common for everything to take several weeks from first viewings to picking up the keys, and it can sometimes run into months.
Of course, every scenario is different. If there’s no chain, the property you’re buying is vacant and you don’t need a mortgage, you could complete in just a few weeks.
3. What will my solicitor actually do?
A good solicitor is worth every penny. Make sure the one you appoint has experience in the area you’ve chosen and knows the local property market and understands the value of working in cooperation with your estate agent.
A solicitor will undertake all conveyancing work including handling contracts, requesting searches, dealing with Land Registry and agreeing on a date for exchange of contracts.
A good solicitor will keep you updated and support you throughout the whole buying process.
4. How much is Stamp Duty?
If you buy a London property above a certain value, you will have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).
The current Stamp Duty threshold for residential properties is £125,000. Different rules apply if you’re buying your first home.
You’ll find more information about Stamp Duty here.
5. Should I use a Financial Adviser?
The mortgage market is very competitive. There are some amazing rates on offer, especially if you have a deposit, of 25% or more. If your circumstances mean that you need more creative financial planning advice, then an independent broker could be invaluable.
Even if your finances are in good shape, a broker may be able to find you a better rate than you’ll be offered online. A broker will also handle much of the paperwork and will do most of the chasing which can save you considerable time and stress.
6. Will I need a survey?
A survey can be arranged by your mortgage lender to identify any structural problems and advise on market value. If you don’t need a mortgage, organising a survey will be your responsibility.
Please note, a mortgage valuation is used by the lender to check that the property is worth the sum being paid. It won’t provide you with detailed information regarding the condition of the property.
Arranging your own survey will give you a better understanding and could save considerable sums of money in the future.
If required, we can advise on the most suitable type of survey and recommend local surveyors.
7. When are contracts signed?
Contracts are signed once your solicitor has confirmed they are satisfied with their process of due diligence and once they have your mortgage offer (if required) in hand. At this stage you will pay a deposit which is equivalent to 10% of the purchase price. At the point of exchange a completion date also needs to be agreed (this is agreed between the parties) and this is the date the balancing 90% payment is made and the property ownership is legally transferred from the seller to the buyer.
Until both solicitors receive signed contracts from the buyer and the seller (exchange of contracts), either can withdraw from the process without penalties.