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As I sit in Cold Bath Brewing on Friday 29th March – the day we are supposed to have cut ties with our European friends – I count the weeks my apartment has been on the market… 11. I’ve had numerous viewing but no offers. My little heart is beginning to sink. Experts are calling it ‘The Brexit Effect’ and the only thing that is clear is that nothing is clear-cut. Having chatted to the bearded man on my left, he put it quite well. People voted with their hearts, not their minds and with all the best intentions in the world we, the public, weren’t informed to make such a decision. But here we are, in a little bit of a Brexit pickle.

It seems to have been affecting everything from trading and investments to the housing market and food prices. Which? has a great report on the housing market. It stated 30,000 fewer transactions took place in January 2019 than they did just two months before. This isn’t good news if you are a house seller in these conditions.

The good thing is our dream home hasn’t appeared on the market yet. This means we have time, but instead of sitting back and relaxing, Niki and I have been getting our ducks in a row.

Getting ready to work with a Solicitor

Working with a Solicitor can be a minefield if you make the wrong choice and could hold up the buying and selling process. So, to partner with a reputable Solicitor is key to keeping your stress levels low and a grip on your house buying process.  We’ve been working with Berwins in order to prepare for the day our golden buyer comes through my door.

Berwins have been around for over three decades and offer all sorts of legal help; from wills and inheritance to property and family law. They are super active within the Harrogate Community too, supporting local causes such as Berwins Salon North and Dementia Forward and Primary Schools. Our contact is Michelle Crowhurst who is a Director at Berwins and specialises in Property. She is lovely, in fact every time I’ve visited the town centre office, all of Berwins’ staff have been lovely and so cheerful.

Michelle Crowhurst
Direct Line: 01423 543118
Email: MichelleCrowhurst@berwin.co.uk

My tips on the early stages of the conveyancing process

So here we are at the very start of the conveyancing process and it’s always a mind boggle to me. For one thing, the language is jargon and I often feel like I need a law degree to understand it. Fortunately for me, Berwins approach is to keep things simple so to help you become a little less bamboozled by it all, here’s my top tips to help you through the early stages of the conveyancing process:

1. Get your finances in place

Before you do anything, it is always worth understanding the affordability of a new home. My first blog talks about how using a mortgage advisor can benefit you.

2. Support Local

When choosing a Solicitor, consider using a local firm rather than a national one. Often local firms are well connected which could come in handy if your process is stuck. I find it is always nice to know I can pop in and see someone if needs be. 

3. Use the glossary on your Solicitors website

If they are a good Solicitor, then their website should be full of helpful guides and glossaries to help you understand the jargon.

4. Ask your Solicitor – they have your interests at heart.

If you still are not sure what something means, then speak to your Solicitor. They should be able to explain it to you.

5. Understand the process

Try to understand what type of property you are buying or selling as this will affect the process. For example, my flat is leashold, therefore I needed to fill in an extra form and my Solicitors will need to obtain further information from the landlord or management company regarding the buildings insurance, service charges, ground rent and shared facilities.

6. Understand the costs

Expect to see legal fees, and expenses (sometimes referred to as “disbursements”) which cover:-

  • On a sale – a fee for obtaining a copy of your title from the land registry, a bank transfer fee (to cover the costs of repaying any mortgage and accounting to you with the sale proceeds)
  • On a purchase – search fees, a bank transfer fee for transferring the purchase price to the sellers’ solicitors, land registration fee (for registering your new home with the land registry) and Stamp Duty Land Tax
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your solicitor what they will charge you if your sale or purchase falls through. Most firms will charge you for the work undertaken up to that point.
  • Fill in the forms as soon as you get them. Speak to your solicitor once you put your property on the market and you can then fill in the forms at your leisure rather than be rushed once a buyer is found. The forms you can expect to receive are:-
  1. Property Information Form. This asks you questions about the property covering which boundaries you have been responsible for, whether you have done any works to the property, details of any neighbour disputes, who the utility suppliers are etc. If you have any paperwork for works done to the property (eg replacement windows, an extension, electrical work) now is a good time to dig these out.
  2. Fittings & Contents Form – this form asks you exactly what is included, excluded or not available at the property. There is also an opportunity to offer items for sale to the buyer using this form. The form is broken down on a room by room basis
  3. If your property is leasehold (like mine) you will have an additional form a Leasehold Information Form. This asks questions about your landlord and/or management company. If you have the original lease and a share certificate, pass these to your solicitor too. With leasehold properties your solicitor will need to contact the landlord or management company for replies to a standard questionnaire called “Leasehold Property Enquiries” (LPE for short). The pack can take several weeks to arrive so it is vital it is paid for (by the seller) and ordered promptly.

7. Create a Property Fact File

You’ll thank me and I go into more detail on this below.

Creating your Property Fact File

The number one rule of thumb when you’ve bought a house or buying a house is to buy a brand-new folder… stationery shopping! This way you can shove any paperwork in one place and forget about it. Berwins call this your Property Fact File and it will make the conveyancing process a lot quicker and easier. Apparently, people often mislay vital bits of paperwork and this causes delays in the conveyancing process. Here’s a checklist of the types of paperwork you might expect to find in a Property Fact File.

In the mean time I spoke to my agents, mortgage adviser and solicitor about the market and my mortgage adviser had some wise words. There’s currently two things at play here 1) there isn’t enough buyers out there wanting this type of property whether that be due to Brexit, time of year or something entirely different 2) the price is too high. He said, ‘only one of those things are with your control’ and he has a point so after much discussion and thought, I’ve decided to reduce the price to £170,000. Hopkinsons were great, it was done the very same day and top of the Right Move list.

Why not check out my property on with Hopkinsons – http://www.hopkinsons.net/properties/west_cliffe_terrace_harrogate_hop_7595

On my next blog post, I’ll be discussing what happens at exchange of contracts and on completion… let’s hope my flat has sold and I’ll be able to share with you my thoughts on the process as it’s happening! Fingers crossed.

with love the harrogate girl blogger blog

P.S. This was a sponsored collaboration with Berwins Solicitors.

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