Buying a home: eight of the most common questions asked by first-time buyers

(From: Chelsea Whelan, partner in Knight Frank’s Notting Hill office)Answer: You need to make an offer on a property. (From Chelsea Whelan, partner at Knight Frank’s Notting Hill Office)Answer to: All offers must be made to the seller agent. Most agents recommend that you also put it in writing. Matt Johnson, senior sales manager at JOHNS&CO, said that it is important to provide as much detail as you can to support your offer. This helps the seller make informed decisions. This includes information about your deposit (including proofs of funds like a bank statement, accountant’s letter), whether there is a mortgage offer, the time frame you are looking at and details of your solicitor.
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(From: James Turner, associate in Knight Frank’s Hampstead office)There are stories of vendors being persuaded to sell their property to a buyer through flattery. (From James Turner, associate at Knight Frank’s Hampstead office.)Answer to: Property is an investment that can go up and down. There is no way to guarantee strong price growth. Smart buyers will accept any claim. The short answer is that property is an investment which can go up or down. Regeneration zones, areas with new transport improvements, and locations at the fringes of more costly postcodes tend to outperform price growth. Matt Turner, founder and buying agent of Astute Property Search, said that it is important to consider what will attract people to your home in the future. The closer you are to amenities, schools, transport links, and other amenities, the higher the price you can command. You can also choose a property with potential that you can expand to increase its value. Chris Cady, Dexters director in Westminster, recommends avoiding homes with “endless structural issues” and instead looking for properties that have the potential to be extended. He said that these kinds of renovations can bring about a healthy profit. (From Jonny Dyson of Winkworth’s Ealing & Acton offices. Turner said, “Be subtly polite with the agents during the viewing and certainly outside their office.” “They should be more open to having a general conversation with others than their colleagues. An agent misled me and told me that the owner had an international tax bill they needed to pay in eight weeks. I was able to negotiate a price reduction of?90,000. It’s perfectly acceptable to make a lower-than-asking price offer, but don’t push your luck too much. In London, the average difference between selling and asking price is about five percent. Plum Fenton, a London specialist at Haringtons, said that there is a fine line between insulting vendors and losing your credibility, or engaging them at an acceptable level to find a mutually agreeable price. “What would be an acceptable opening offer?” is a better way to ask the question. He said that he would go from there. “Usually, clients will offer a counter-offer that will give them their bottom-line or at the minimum their expectations. Murray Smith, managing director at Site Sales Property Group, suggests that you raise your price by small increments of?2,000 instead of?5,000 when bargaining. He said, “This helps you to keep in control and hold back some bargaining ability.” (From: Heron Financial mortgage broker)Answer to Ray Boulger senior technical director at John Charcol, “The only cost that is added to your mortgage is the arrangement fees.” This doesn’t mean that you can’t borrow more money than you need to purchase your first home. You can also spend the extra on other things. Stamp Duty is paid once you have completed a property and your mortgage money has landed. Boulger said that the key to determining whether you can afford a larger mortgage is to check your affordability calculator. For example, if you have a 10% deposit, your loan to value would be 90 percent. Your loan to value is 90 percent if you borrow more money but keep the deposit the same. What is the difference between completion and exchange? Answer: After your offer has been accepted, it will take approximately three to six months to purchase a property. There are many hurdles to overcome during this time. Exchange and completion are two of them. A deposit is required, usually ten percent of the property’s value. If you do not pay this deposit, you will lose your money. Completion is when you have paid the balance and can start thinking about housewarming parties and colour schemes. “Exchange is the exchange of contracts that make a house sale legally binding.” Chris Cady, director at Dexters estate agents in Westminster. “This means that either the buyer or seller can withdraw from a transaction before contracts are exchanged.” “Completion refers to the date when the legal ownership of a property has been transferred. After all checks and searches are completed, the buyer’s attorney will transfer the balance of the purchase funds to the seller’s attorney. Once the funds have been received, the transaction can be finalized and the estate agent can release keys to the buyer. What does leasehold refer to? (From: developer Pocket)Answer: Rather like the offside rule in football, no two pundits have identical explanations.Generally, the term refers to flats, not houses. It is a contract between a freeholder (you) and a lessee (the seller). It allows you to occupy the property for a set period of time, subject to the terms of the lease. Your solicitor should discuss the costs with you. Ground rents can go up over time, so what may seem reasonable now could end up costing you a lot when you sell. Warman warned that leases can contain restrictive clauses, such as an absolute ban on altering the layout of the flat. “But in reality, a freeholder will usually allow approved alterations in exchange for a fee. The lease of a leasehold property is designed to allow harmonious living among different leaseholders within the same building. You should pay attention to the length of the lease you are purchasing. Although leases can be extended, this is an expensive process that becomes more expensive each year. Warman believes anything less than 80 year leases are a problem. Johnson is even more cautious and recommends seeking advice if the lease is less than 100 year. (From Jonny Dyson of Winkworth’s Ealing and Acton offices. Answer: This is a very important question in this current climate. You can check the local crime figures on However, statistics can be misleading. It is possible that shoplifting and pickpocketing are the most common crimes reported if your postcode is located on a high street. Oxford Street has one of the highest levels of thefts in London, but far fewer when it comes to burglary, violent crime, and bike and car thefts. Lynda Clark, CEO at First Time Buyer Group, said that you should walk around your new neighborhood at all times of the day and night. Ask the community about their experiences living there. Visit the local shop and take the train or bus into town. “Fenton agrees. “Speak to the local community and ask them how they find living there. Then, visit the local shop and take the bus or train into town. Sara Ransom, Stacks Property Search’s buying agent, advises caution and discretion. Don’t offer on the same property that is being sold by the same agent. She warned that they won’t take either offer seriously. “Remember that their job is to work with the vendor. If they don’t think they are serious, they should tell their vendors. Fenton believes that even if properties you like are being offered by different agents, you will be found out. She said that the selling agents don’t operate in a vacuum. They all know each other and word will spread quickly.