The home I’m buying has been empty for two years; what questions should I be asking the solicitor, the estate agent, and the surveyor?
If a home has been empty for a considerable period (such as the two years mentioned here), there’s usually a reason for it. There is estimated to be around a quarter of a million properties in the country that have been empty for more than 6 months.
The primary reason is that the owner hasn’t the funds to renovate the property, or they’ve started gutting the place and run out of money to take it further, or perhaps there’s been a significant problem (e.g. fire or flood are common instances). Most likely, these properties will come up at auction.
Your estate agent will be aware of its history if the property is on their books, so you can find out a lot from them, the council will have an empty property officer, and the Land Registry will have information on the deeds. As far as the solicitor is concerned, they will establish the position on the property as part of the conveyancing, while the surveyor will have experience of checking out such properties, with the advice that you order a Building Survey (the most detailed of the options) to check out its structural integrity. Note that mortgage lenders will be more reluctant to offer a loan on such homes.
Ultimately, the ball is in your court and, if you want to pursue buying such a property, you need to be prepared to do the research, which can take up a lot of time.
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The owner looks to have fitted unfitting stone cladding on the home which I think may break the Lee Crescent conservation area rules.
The solicitor will carry out searches to check if the property is within a designated conservation area, and if so whether any modifications have appropriate permission from the Birmingham planning authority.
We are purchasing a £919000 Edgbaston residential property, how is stamp duty worked out?
Stamp Duty Land Tax is based on the purchase price of the house or flat. Stamp duty will be £36760 on a £919000 house.*
*Source: www.hmrc.gov.uk, 15/01/2013
How do we stop being gazumped?
Gazumping takes place when an offer is accepted but then rejected by the property owner, in preference to a higher offer. Because acceptance of an offer is not binding on the seller until exchange of contracts, there is a risk of being gazumped. You should instruct a solicitor early, and even before acceptance of an offer to reduce the chance of gazumping.
What do I do if new and severe damage is found after moving in?
You should reasonably expect the home into which you’re moving to be cleared, clean and without additional damage. Of course, things can happen as removals can chip plaster, scratch or tear wallpaper, etc., but if there is significant damage that was not present before, it would be advisable to talk to your solicitor to see if there is any recourse for you on your seller.
You may also like to think about writing a clause into the contract that money will only be released after a cursory inspection of the premises to confirm that you are happy. This needs to be agreed with the seller’s solicitor, but the expectation is already raised. Beware that, in the chaos of the moving day, you can’t afford to delay things too much, so it’s a fine balance.
Our estate agent has named a solicitors firm who they generally use. Must we instruct this solicitor?
It is commonplace for agents to suggest a law firm to handle your conveyancing. If the agent is paid a referral fee, however, there is a risk that an agent may choose the conveyancer who pays out the highest referral fee, not a firm with local expertise and a solid reputation.