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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What is the council tax on a mid-terrace Band B dwelling in Williton?
You should be informed about your property's band as part of the report on title. The correct charges for residents of Williton are set out in detail at the West Somerset local authority site. As at, 14 September 2012, band rates are:
- Band A - £973.00
- Band B - £1,135.00
- Band C - £1,297.00
- Band D - £1,459.00
- Band E - £1,783.00
- Band F - £2,107.00
- Band G - £2,432.00
- Band H - £2,918.00
When is it appropriate to arrange a conveyancer?
With few exceptions, instructing as early as possible is better, as the legal work can start immediately. Some groups advocate holding off instruction until the offer is accepted, but opting to delay can jeopardise your sale or purchase.
If I’m putting my furniture and other things in storage, will the process take longer?
There shouldn’t be any reason why your move would take longer than a standard removal if you are pitting your belongings into storage. In fact, in some instances, it might be beneficial for the chain and your completion on the sale, since you are likely to incur fewer delays in the process because you can put your furniture and other things in storage before the event.
Whatever your plans, it’s worth mentioning them to your conveyancing solicitor so that they know the logistics on the day of completion, and may even be able to provide advice and pointers on what to consider before the day to ensure things move more smoothly.
What is stamp duty and land transaction tax?
Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a proportion of the final sale price of a property payable to HMRC by the buyer. The current trigger threshold is for any property priced at £125,000 or over (unless you’re a first-time buyer, in which case you pay less or no tax for properties priced at less than £500,000). Your solicitor will handle the transfer of the tax as part of the final tasks on your conveyancing.
In Scotland, buyers have to pay Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and, in Wales, the Land Transaction Tax is triggered at properties priced over £180,000.
In all cases, the amount payable is based on a sliding scale as the price goes up as a proportion of that range added together than an overall flat tax amount or percentage. So, the higher the price goes up, the greater the amount of tax you have to pay.
The survey revealed that no planning consent was obtained for an extension: What are the issues I’ll face?
The chartered surveyor inspecting the property will check any extensions or works that have occurred and highlight any concerns for the attention of your conveyancing solicitor, who will make enquiries with the local authority to establish whether the consents and building regulations are in place.
If the building regulations agreement is not in place, the vendor is not legally allowed to sell the property until they are, since the title deeds cannot be transferred to your ownership. If building requiring planning consent is present at the property but without proof of consent approval, the local authority might be willing to accept a retrospective approval, although this could take a long time, and, even then, they may instruct you, as the new owner, to return the building to its former state, which could be very costly.
Your solicitor will be able to advise you on the most appropriate course of action to take, including whether the retrospective planning or the reversal of building works can be renegotiated from the agreed sale price.