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  • October, 2018 21st

    Good Grades? Selling a Listed Building

    There are, according to English Heritage, around 374,000 Grade I, Grade II and Grade II* listed properties in England. Generally, buildings are more likely to be listed the older they are.

    Grade II-listed buildings are deemed to be of “national importance and special interest” and make up 92% of all the country’s listed properties. Grade II*-listed buildings are particularly important, with “more than special interest” and these comprise 5.5% of the listings. Grade I buildings – of exceptional interest – make up the remaining 2.5%.

    What does a listing mean for owners and buyers?

    A listing isn’t a preservation order, so you can make alterations and repairs to your property. However, you must apply for listed building consent – and have it granted – before the work is started. This consent means you maintain the architectural interest of the building; if you flout these rules, you’re breaking the law.

    Selling up

    If you’ve made alterations to your listed property and now you’re planning to sell it, then you’ll have to produce evidence that the work you did was done with planning permission and listed building consent. If you can’t produce this evidence, you may delay the sale because your buyers will be advised to take out indemnity insurance before proceeding. They may even pull out of the process altogether.

    Your buyers also need to be aware of the responsibilities they’re taking on. The listing might apply to both the inside and outside of the building, but it will certainly apply to everything that was in or on the building at the time is was listed. In addition, any manufactured object or structure on the site that was there on July 1, 1948 is listed.

    The interior of the property

    The inside of the property is also controlled by the listing – the floorplan, fireplaces, stairs and everything else. If you are planning to make any repairs after you’ve moved in then you’ll need to maintain the character of the building and use the appropriate materials. You’ll also need to hire contractors with experience on listed buildings.

    Buyers and sellers shouldn’t be daunted

    All of this extra effort might seem intimidating, but it pays off. The demand for period and listed properties never wanes so if you maintain the property’s historical character you’ll have no trouble finding buyers.

  • October, 2018 18th

    Buying and Selling Over Christmas

    Lots of people think that buying and selling property over Christmas is a waste of time, but they couldn’t be more wrong. People actually have more time to browse property portals and even to go on viewings over the festive period, so don’t waste this opportunity.

    Make sure you’re visible online

    Don’t waste any time – get your property and your photos onto your estate agent’s website and the big property portals as quickly as possible. There’s actually a big spike in portal visits on Boxing Day, so be there! You’ll be taking advantage of all those people and their new iPads, talking over the after-dinner mints about their ideal home.

    Don’t let the cold dissuade you

    While spring and summer are definitely popular times for buying and selling, winter has its own advantages if you know how to work them.

    If you have the Christmas lights on, some hot chocolate simmering on the hob, a fire lit and some carols playing softly in the background, viewers will think they stepped into a feelgood film set. In addition, if someone looks at your home at 4.30pm in mid-December and still loves it, chances are they’ll be head-over-heels by spring!

    Do try to arrange viewings during daylight, though, especially if you have a garden or two to show off.

    Winter movers are fast movers

    Anyone looking to move in December and January wants things wrapped up quickly because they want to have Christmas in their new place or at least start off the new year there.

    Get your photos done before the decorations go up

    If you’re still on the market in January or beyond, you don’t want your old Christmas decorations in the photos as it will tell people you’ve been on the market for a while.

    Brace yourself for the new year

    January will bring a big rush onto the market, both buyers and sellers so you should get yourself onto the market that little bit earlier. You’ll have less competition over Christmas and you may find that you’ve got a lot of viewers lined up for the first week of the new year.

  • October, 2018 15th

    Making Moving Cheaper

    Around a quarter of the UK’s homeowners want to move within the next few years, but many are dissuaded by what they see as high costs and charges. The fees and stamp duties are as much of a deterrent as the rising property prices themselves!

    Some first-time buyers will be helped by last year’s abolition of stamp duty, but there are savings that even old-timers can make when they take their next step on the property ladder.

    De-cluttering helps

    If you have less to move, you may need just one lorry or a smaller vehicle, so be ruthless. If you haven’t even looked at or inside that corner cabinet for the best part of a year, then it – and its contents – can probably go.

    Use a great estate agent

    By using a reliable and honest estate agent, you’ll have a good idea of how much you’ll be paying beforehand. There’ll be no nasty surprises and you might be able to knock a few pounds off here and there if you’ve built up a good relationship.

    Move on the right day

    Most people want to move at the weekend or during a holiday period, but if you make your move during the week and during term time then it’ll be cheaper. Removal companies will want the business and might even give you a discount.

    About that removal company…

    Don’t just load up the first van that takes your fancy! Do some research first; most estate agents will have a preferred company that they send business onto and chances are this referral will get you a discounted rate. Failing that, ask friends and family for their opinions.

    Tell your suppliers you’re moving

    You need to let your internet, phone, TV, gas and electricity providers know that you’re going and when your moving day is so that you’re not paying two lots of bills at once. Sort out your broadband first so that you have the most seamless transition as possible.

    Think about your new place

    Will all of your furniture and appliances fit in your new home and will they suit it? If there’s a few items that just won’t make the leap, then sell them before you go so you don’t have to move them and you raise some cash.

  • October, 2018 12th

    How Much Does it Cost to Rent?

    It seems that the UK is no longer a nation of shopkeepers, but a nation of tenants. More than 5 million UK households are currently in rented accommodation – 20% of the population. This figure is twice what it was in 2008 and it’s set to rise further as property prices pull away from wage growth.

    This 20% is comprised mostly of young professionals; they’ve finished university and are in their first job or are away from home for the first time. While it’s a rite of passage for many, it also comes with costs over and above the actual monthly rent. The bulk of these extra costs come in the first month – the deposit and tenancy fees to name but two. Here’s a closer look at these charges.

    The tenant fees

    Parliament introduced the Tenant Fees Bill earlier this year and so the abolition of these fees looks likely. We don’t know when this ban will come into force, though, so renters can expect to pay them for the foreseeable. There’s an admin fee to the estate agent once your offer is accepted, then there’s the cost of obtaining references, drafting a contract, credit and inventory checks and ID verification. Fees vary between agent and region, so make sure you know what they are before signing anything or making an offer.

    Your deposit

    You’ll need to have at least a month’s rent ready as your deposit. This sum goes into a secured deposit scheme and is returned when you leave, as long as the property is in roughly the same condition as it was when you went in! Any damages outside fair wear and tear will come out of your deposit and if you’re expected to pay for your end-of-tenancy deep clean, this could also come out of your deposit too.

    Your furnishings

    Rental properties are either furnished or unfurnished. If you’re moving into an unfurnished property then you’ll have to buy your own furniture and equipment, which can be expensive. If it’s a furnished place, make sure you know what’s included, right down to the toaster so that you can budget ahead.

    The contract length

    If your upfront costs are pretty high, then you won’t want to have to move and pay these fees all over again in a hurry, so look at how long the contract is. You can ask for a rolling contract, or a two-year agreement with a break clause so either you or the landlord can end the contract early with no penalty.

  • October, 2018 10th

    Making that Overseas Move

    Now that winter’s on the way, anyone with any half-serious plans to move to a warmer climate might want to step up a gear. With Brexit on the horizon, many Brits are choosing to make that overseas move sooner rather than later.

    It’s all very exciting, the prospect of an international move, but you need to plan and think about it much more than you would do with a domestic move. Here’s how you make a success of it.

    Spend a season in your dream area

    Falling in love with a region or city while you’re on holiday is one thing; living there is another. You need to see the place out of season, in rain and maybe in autumn and winter, to really get a feel for it. By spending a few months there, you’ll see past the glamour and work out how well you’ll integrate with the locals and other immigrants there. You should aim to learn the language, too, as well as invite friends and family over to see how easy it is to get to you.

    Decide what to do with your UK home

    Are you moving permanently or are you keeping an option open in the UK? If you downsize you can free up enough money to buy your overseas home and one (albeit smaller) back home. You could rent out your UK property as well, to help with the mortgage or living expenses; just make sure you find a reliable letting agent.

    Get tax advice on your property purchase

    You need to talk to a cross-border property lawyer to find out what your tax and inheritance implications are in the short and long-term.

    Find out about schools

    It’s relatively easy for UK children to transition to European schools now, especially as the UK has adopted the International Baccalaureate (IB). many cities have international schools, too and there’s also the added advantage of bilingual children!

    Don’t sweat the small stuff, but don’t forget it either

    Look over your insurance policies in the UK to see if they’re affected by your living overseas for long periods of time. Also, look into your driving licence and whether it’s valid in your new country. These are just two of the things you need to think about, so talk to an emigration adviser.

    Get all of your paperwork in order

    You need to have all your documents – passports, driving licences, birth certificates and anything similar – in original, copied and digital form. You should leave a complete set of all your documents with someone – a lawyer, your bank or a relative – in the UK. You should also obtain your medical, dental and (if necessary) academic records so you can pass them onto the right people in your new home.

  • October, 2018 7th

    Have an Open House Day!

    Open house viewings are becoming more popular in the UK. Previously they’ve been more of a US and Mainland Europe thing, but UK sellers are starting to find out about the benefits. Here’s why you should host an open house.

    Open house viewings save you time

    These viewings involve several potential buyers looking all at once. You’ll save lots of time and energy this way; you won’t have to do a deep clean several times a week and then vacate the property for the duration, for a start. It also means that if one or two viewers don’t turn up, you haven’t wasted any time.

    The viewers are more relaxed

    When people go to a regular viewing, they might feel hindered by the presence of the estate agent and (sometimes) the vendor. If there’s several people moving around, especially in couples or small groups, then everyone feels more independent and less on the spot. It also means that everyone takes more time over the viewing.

    There’s more chance of offers

    Just seeing the competition can prompt people to make an offer, especially if the other parties seem enthusiastic about the place. Open house viewings can mean quicker sales and for much less effort on the part of the agent and you.

    Buyers feel less pressure

    Buyers don’t feel that they’re being funnelled around your property, spending just a few minutes in each room before being ushered to the next one. They can browse around and talk more freely to their viewing partner without feeling they’re on display or under interrogation lights.

    They can see everyone else’s reactions

    Watching and listening to other people’s reactions is a great way to get the most out of a viewing. A buyer might overhear someone talking about a flaw they hadn’t seen, or, indeed, something great that they overlooked. It’s also good for buyers to see how much competition there is for a property so that they can gauge whether to make an offer sooner rather than later.

  • October, 2018 4th

    All About Stamp Duty

    It seems that despite recent Stamp Duty cuts being in the news, there’s still a lot of uncertainty about the changes and how they affect first-time buyers, according to research from online broker L&C Mortgages.

    Almost a third of first-time buyers in England have no idea if the abolition of Stamp Duty on homes worth less than £300,000 will help them or not. Just over a fifth – 22% – are still making decisions on property purchases based on the “old Stamp Duty” bands and rules, meaning they could be seriously restricting themselves.

    Not-so-blissful ignorance

    L&C Mortgages found that many first-timers were woefully uninformed about the benefits of Stamp Duty relief. When asked how much they’d save if they bought their first home and paid no Stamp Duty, 13% believed they’d save more than £5,000, which is not possible. More than a third – 38% – of the respondents said they simply had no idea how much they’d save.

    The survey also found that 52% of first-timers think they’ll benefit from Stamp Duty abolition when they buy their first home. Of the respondents looking to buy a property of between £125,000 and £500,000, 42% thought that Stamp Duty relief wouldn’t help them at all.

    Many people want the cuts to go further

    Most – 62% – of first-time buyers in England thought that the cuts didn’t go far enough and that property newbies shouldn’t have to pay Stamp Duty at all, regardless of the property price.

    A complete abolition would mean big savings for many people, but it also shows how much simpler Stamp Duty would be if everyone paid the same rates.

    The changes in action

    At present, the changes mean that first-timers pay no Stamp Duty on properties selling for under £300,000. There are also reduced rates for homes between £300,000 and £500,000 for London properties – just 5% on properties between these brackets. For the average first-time London purchase of £410,000, this works out as £5,500 rather than the £10,500 it would have been previously. For homes above £500,000, Stamp Duty is at its usual rate.

    In practice, around 95% of first-timers in England and Northern Ireland will benefit from the changes and 80% in London will also feel it. Overall, most first-timers will pay no Stamp Duty, saving an average of £1,650.

  • October, 2018 1st

    What Property Reforms do Homeowners Want?

    Bridging loan provider Market Financial Solution asked more than 2,000 UK adults about the property market reforms they want to see and there were some very clear answers.

    No more gazumping

    Gazumping is one of the worst things about buying a property. It happens when the seller accepts a verbal offer from a buyer but then rejects it in favour of a higher bid. More than half – 55% – of the respondents wanted to see legislation brought in to put an end to this practice.

    A limit to property ownership – or not

    Just over half – 52% – of UK homeowners think there should be caps imposed on the number, value and/or location of properties that non-UK residents can buy and own.

    Nearly half of people – 47% – who currently own more than one property don’t want to see this cap. Oddly enough, 62% of people who own more than one property want to see Inheritance Tax scrapped on all property assets – the biggest “aye” among this demographic.

    An overhaul of Stamp Duty

    This is a perennial favourite among property market reform fans, with 40% of the respondents saying they’d like to see a reduction in this duty, or more help for first-time buyers and buyers of new-build properties.

    Just under a fifth – 19% – want Stamp Duty to be paid by the seller rather than the buyer.

    More help for renters to get onto the property ladder

    One proposal that got a lot of support in the survey was a scheme to help working renters to save up a deposit for a house. A portion of the savers’ salary is deducted and placed in an account which is further topped up by the government.

    More incentives for renovation

    The news often reports on the shortage of housing supply, so 44% of the respondents think that there should be generous incentives for people buying derelict properties. These incentives will encourage people to buy properties, do them up and sooner or later put them back onto the market.

  • September, 2018 18th

    Inherited a Property and Thinking of Letting it Out?

    If you’ve recently inherited property and you’re not sure whether to sell it, or you’re having a hard time selling it, then another option is to let it out. This makes you an accidental landlord.

    What’s an accidental landlord?

    Accidental landlords are landlords who, rather than definitely choosing to make money from rental property, rent out a property because of circumstances. If you can’t sell the place in good time, it’s better to rent it so you can pay the mortgage on it or spend time doing it up for a better profit. Becoming an accidental landlord can be difficult, especially if the property is a long way away. If you’ve found yourself in this position, there are things you must consider to ensure that you and your new property are protected.

    The mortgage

    If the property has a mortgage on it then you must make sure that the mortgage lets you rent it out. Some lenders will grant you “consent to let” for 12 months to give you more time to find a buyer.

    If your lender won’t do this, then you could switch the mortgage over to a buy-to-let version. You must do this before renting the property out so that you’re not in breach of contract as this could lead to the lender asking for full payment of the loan. Your new mortgage may involve higher payments and administration fees, so factor this into your calculations. Once you’ve decided to go ahead, you’ll need landlord insurance.

    Your insurance

    You need to talk to a provider – start with your existing insurer – to sort out landlord insurance. These policies don’t just cover buildings and contents, they also cover you against non-paying tenants, property damage and liability (so if a tenant is injured, your legal costs are covered).

    Know your rules and regulations

    You and your tenants need to be protected, so you should make sure your prospective tenant is legally able to rent in the UK, according to the 2014 Right to Rent Act. If you fail to adhere to this regulation you could receive a large fine.

    You also need to place the tenant’s deposit into a government tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receipt and provide evidence of having done so.

    Your tenants need a safe home so you must have all your gas and electrical appliances and utilities checked by registered gas engineers and electricians. This must be done before anyone moves in and then you must provide your safety certificates to your tenants.

    Look at your Income Tax liability

    Your monthly rental payment counts as income so you’ll be liable for tax on it. Since April 2017, landlords are liable for tax on the full amount of the rent aid, not just on the profits. This amount is calculated according to your tax band and you can claim 20% back as tax relief.

  • September, 2018 16th

    Brace Yourself for Hitting the Market!

    Selling your property can be a crazy ride and it might take a longer – or even a shorter – time than you imagined. Get yourself selling and moving-ready as soon as possible so that you’re ready for impact.

    Start decluttering as soon as you decide to sell

    You need to start on this before you’ve even instructed an estate agent. Clear away shoes and coats that are out of season, hide your hair removal cream under the bathroom sink and leave your kitchen counters as open and spacious as possible.

    It might even be an idea to depersonalise your space by removing kids’ artworks from the fridge, sports certificates, photos and fussy trinkets. You might feel like you’ve created a void, but viewers will fill it with visions of themselves living in your property.

    Redecorate

    Once you’ve cleared the decks, give them a new coat of paint. There’s nothing like removing all the clutter to show up scuffs and grubbiness, so get to work on it! If your kitchen’s looking a bit tired, replace the cupboard doors, and put plants in those suddenly empty spaces (where laundry and cricket pads used to be…).

    Do a deep clean

    Ideally, you should get the professionals in, but if you can’t afford this, clean the oven, de-scale every conceivable surface and brave the badlands behind the sofas.

    Then start on the garden

    Lots of viewers are put off by a neglected or overgrown garden, so make sure yours is looking its best. If you have the space, place a new table and chairs in a prime evening cocktail sort of position.

    Find the best estate agent

    This isn’t the one who comes up with the highest valuation, as some agents will make unrealistic promises so you instruct them. Go for the middle-of-the-road figure, especially if it’s from an agent that’s got a fair number of “Sold” signs in the area.

    Start your paperwork early

    Find and instruct a conveyancing solicitor early on so you can get a break-down of all the costs involved. Ideally, agree on a fixed fee for the service beforehand and then collect together all the property’s paperwork, such as boiler service records, building certificates and guarantees for double glazing and the like.

    Invite in the viewers

    You should let the agent take care of this and, ideally, you should leave the building! If you have a busy family life, then it might be an idea to hold an open-house viewing once a week to get as many viewings as possible in one go.

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