Purchasing a Property at Auction – The Process Explained

Joanne LerwillPurchasing a property at auction is not something that just exists on ‘Homes under the Hammer’ – it’s an exciting process to buy property! Whether purchasing a buy-to-let or as a project to do-up, it’s important to be aware of the issues that can arise in this process.

Joanne Lerwill, an experienced Licenced Conveyancer at CJCH, discusses five areas of importance when considering purchasing a property at auction.

Know the process for purchasing a property at auction

The process of purchasing a property at auction is different from the usual process of buying a property. It is vital that you do your research beforehand and arrange a viewing to inspect the property.

It is important to understand the difference between the guide and the reserve price. The guide price is the starting price at which the bid will commence. Whereas the reserve price is the minimum figure the buyer will accept. The reserve price is not disclosed to the bidders but is usually 10% higher than the guide price.

If successful in your bid, you are bound by the terms and conditions when the gavel falls! You must sign the contract and pay the deposit on the spot, so make sure your finances are in place.

The main difference from purchasing a property at auction and buying through an agent is timescale. An auction works on a fixed timescale for exchange and completion. It provides speed and certainty for the buyer and seller. Whereas purchasing through an agent has no fixed timescale for exchange or completion.

Understanding the legal pack

A legal pack is the set of documents prepared by the seller’s solicitor/licenced conveyancer. Fortunately, a copy is available in the auction room and will be available to download via the property details page. The pack includes:

  • Official copies of Title held at the Land Registry
  • A local search/any other searches
  • Special conditions of sale
  • Property information form
  • Management information, leases and tenancy agreements if the property is a leasehold

The purchaser should look through the pack and seek advice from a solicitor that specialises in auction properties. Especially important if there is anything onerous in the pack for the buyer.

Key issues that arise when purchasing a property at auction

The most common issue is a short window of time to arrange a survey for your solicitor to check the legal pack. Worryingly, it is easy to get carried away ad go over budget! Make sure all of your financial arrangements are in order. No turning back after the gavel falls!

Top tips for purchasing a property at auction

Imperative you research the property, arrange viewings, ask questions and obtain a copy of the auction particulars.

Just be prepared! Stick to your budget! Check the small print!

Importance of seeking legal advice

Taking a DIY approach might seem attractive to cut costs – but don’t be fooled! Without knowing the process, you could incur costs down the line. A solicitor or licenced conveyancer will use their legal training and study the conditions of the legal pack. Do not take the risk!

How can we help

The CJCH conveyancing team has 35 years’ experience in property matters. Our reasonable fees, friendly service and expert advice gives you peace of mind. So you don’t have to worry. Why not get in touch with a member of our team today?

Get in touch:

Telephone: 0333 231 6405

Email: privateclients@cjch.co.uk

Solicitors and the Conveyancing Process

Whether you are buying or selling property, the experience can be a stressful time. Property law is complicated, convoluted and confusing. It is important to ensure that the conveyancing process is handled effectively. This ensures that the property transaction is legally sound and protects you financially.

Our specialist solicitor, Myles Thomas, looks at the conveyancing process and the benefits of a solicitor/conveyancer handling the matter for you, rather than a DIY approach.

For more information, get in touch with a member of our team today.

What is conveyancing and what is the process that is usually followed?

Conveyancing is the transfer of the legal title of a property from one person to another. As solicitors, we are responsible for ensuring our client has a good and marketable title to a property. We check the title, and if buying, request searches (Local Authority, Water & Drainage and Environmental), raise and respond to any pre-contract enquiries, arrange the signature of documents and deal with the transfer of funds upon exchange/completion.

Exchange is the point at which the contract becomes legally binding. Finally, completion is when you get the keys to your new home!

As a solicitor, what are your main responsibilities and duties during conveyancing?

Our obligation is to affect the completion of the sale or purchase for our client, ensuring they obtain a good title and their interests are protected throughout.

What value does a solicitor bring to the conveyancing process as opposed to an alternative service or a DIY approach?

Experience and qualified knowledge enable us to provide expert, proactive advice. This allows the matter to run smoothly. It is possible to do your own conveyancing, however, this is not a good idea as the process is complicated and time-consuming.

What issues can arise both in the short term and the long term if someone takes a DIY approach to conveyancing?

From our experience, the lack of professionalism caused by unqualified conveyancers almost always incurs cost on the client. When the matter is dealt with by professionals, the chain delays and additional expense is avoided.

Buying property is one of the most expensive purchases we make, so why leave anything to chance?

How do you support your clients through the conveyancing process?

Communication is key to what is traditionally a stressful and expensive time. We keep our clients proactively updated throughout the transaction and readily available to answer enquiries they may have to relieve stress and assure them that they are in safe hands.

How can we help?

CJCH is committed to providing high quality, friendly advice. Our team has over 35 years’ experience in dealing with these matters. Get in touch with a member of our team today.

Get in touch via:

Telephone: 0333 231 6405

Email: privateclients@cjch.co.uk

Top Tips for Purchasing a Buy-to-Let Property – the Process Explained

Joanne LerwillPurchasing a buy-to-let property can seem like an attractive investment – with investors collecting rental income and relying upon steadily increasing property prices. Despite the slowdown in house price increases, the number of renters continues to climb. There are important considerations about purchasing a buy-to-let property and being a landlord – whether you have a portfolio of properties or are just starting out.

Our specialist solicitor, Joanne Lerwill, takes a look at the process of purchasing a buy-to-let mortgage and the recent changes that have come into force.

How can a solicitor help someone purchase a buy-to-let property?

A solicitor can give advice and guide you through the legal complexities of buying a property to rent out.

Are there any differences between the process of purchasing a residential property and a buy-to-let?

Whilst a buy-to-let mortgage is a lot like a residential mortgage, there are noticeable differences. Firstly, the fees tend to be much higher. Additionally, so too are the interest rates. Furthermore, the minimum deposit for a buy-to-let mortgage is usually 25% of the property’s value. Finally, you are liable for the higher rate Stamp Duty (in England), or the Land Transaction Tax (in Wales).

What are the rules around the letting fee ban which came into force in 2019?

The new law, taking effect from 1st April 2019, means tenants will no longer face fees for services, including viewings, credit checks, references and setting up a tenancy. However, it is entirely possible that these additional costs, once eliminated, will raise the tenant’s rent.

What are the other main considerations with buy-to-let properties?

The biggest consideration for anyone thinking about a buy-to-let mortgage is financial. Firstly, you will require a larger deposit to make the purchase. Secondly, the mortgage is generally based upon the rent, rather than your income. To cover the mortgage and expenses of running the property, in addition to making a profit, you need to charge high enough rent.

What top three tips would you give to someone purchasing their first buy-to-let property?

  • Number one – Research the market! This cannot be understated. Ask yourself, what do you know about the market? Are you sure this is an investment you want to commit to? It is important to consider the risks as well as the benefits.
  • Number two – Do not rush the process and look around for the best buy-to-let mortgage deal. It pays dividends to speak to a good independent broker and your bank. They will explain what deals are available and which one is right for
    you
  • Number three – Above all, think about your target tenant. Who are they and what do they want? Will you rent to students, young professionals or a family?

How can we help?

The CJCH conveyancing team has over 35 years’ experience in property matters. Your matter is expertly managed by qualified solicitors and conveyancers, ensuring you are in safe hands.

Get in touch via:

Telephone: 0333 231 6405

Email: privateclients@cjch.co.uk

In the event that you encounter difficulties with your tenant/s any time after completion, get in touch with our Litigation Team on 029 20 483181 who have the necessary expertise to assist whatever the problem.

Tips for First Time Buyers: the Conveyancing Process Explained

Lauren Powell has joined the Residential Conveyancing and Private Client team here at CJCH and wanted to share these tips for first-time home buyers:

As a first time buyer, the legal process of purchasing a property (known as conveyancing) can be a confusing and stressful time.

At CJCH Solicitors, our dedicated team of solicitors are here to make the process as straight forward and stress-free as possible. We have created a brief guide to the steps of the conveyancing process and some of the terminology that is often used to give first-time buyers an initial understanding of the process.

For further information or for a competitive quote for our legal services, please contact a member of our team.

  • Step One: your offer is accepted

Congratulations! You have found your property and agreed on a purchase price with the seller.

It is at this stage that the estate agents, seller or developer (in the case of new build properties[1]) may ask for the details of the solicitor you have decided to instruct to act on your behalf.

At CJCH Solicitors, we pride ourselves on providing prompt service. We ensure that once we have provided a quote and agreed our fixed fee[2] with you, we send confirmation of our instruction to you as soon as possible. As this is likely to be the most important financial transaction of your life, it is vital to ensure you choose the right solicitor. A cheap service can often mean a poorer quality service!

Our quote will include information on whether any stamp duty land tax (which applies to properties in England) or land transaction tax (which from April 2018 applies to properties in Wales) is likely to be payable.  The rules can be complex, so a chat with one of our team is advised to ensure you know upfront what the costs are likely to be.

At this stage, we also request the contract pack[3] from the seller’s solicitor.

  • Step Two: apply for a mortgage/funding your purchase

If you require a mortgage to purchase the property and you have not already made arrangements, it is important to make an application for a mortgage to help fund the purchase and ensure you obtain your agreement in principle[4] as soon as possible.

For new build properties, a Help to Buy Equity Loan[5] in addition to your mortgage could also be a possibility for you. It is best to seek financial advice before agreeing to any mortgage or loan, to ensure you choose the best option for you.

Your lender will request the details of your solicitor. You should receive a copy of your mortgage offer and your solicitor will also be sent a copy by your lender. Your solicitor will normally also represent your lender during the process.

  • Step Three: survey and searches

It is always advisable that you commission a survey to ensure a detailed physical inspection of the property is carried out by a professional surveyor to highlight any potential issues. Although this is an extra cost to you, it can save you discovering any nasty surprises in the future!

Please note that if you are purchasing with a mortgage, it will not be enough to rely on your lender’s valuation report as this is done to satisfy your lender that the property is sufficient security for their loan.

Your solicitor will also order search reports[6]. Searches are normally carried out with the local authority, water and drainage provider and an environmental search is usually done (some additional searches can be required depending on the property itself).

Your solicitor raises any enquiries they feel necessary with the seller’s solicitor based on the information provided in the contract pack at the beginning of the process, the search reports received your survey report and any questions you may have for the seller from your physical inspection of the property. When the seller answers the enquiries satisfactorily, it is the time to agree a completion date[7] with all parties involved.

  • Step Four: exchange of contracts

Before the day of completion, a process known as ‘exchange of contracts’[8] will take place. The time in between exchange of contracts and the day of completion does vary depending on the circumstances of both the seller and the purchaser (and whether there is a chain[9] involved).

Exchange of contracts is a process that takes place over the phone between the seller’s solicitor and purchaser’s solicitor. Exchange of contracts is the point whereby you become legally bound to purchase and is designed to provide security that completion goes ahead on the agreed date. It is at this stage that you forward your deposit, normally 10% of the purchase price. If you withdrew from the purchase after the exchange of contracts, the deposit is forfeited to the seller. The seller can also face penalties if they withdrew from the sale after the exchange of contracts. Although, parties withdrawing after the exchange of contracts is very rare.

Before exchange of contracts can take place, you will normally meet with your solicitor to sign the necessary documents. You will also be given information on how to transfer the deposit funds to your solicitor, which your solicitor needs to receive before exchange of contracts. Your solicitor will also request your mortgage funds directly from your lender to ensure they arrive in time for the agreed completion date.

  • Step Five: completion

On the day of completion, the seller vacates the property (if they have not already done so).

Your solicitor will send the purchase funds to the seller’s solicitors and, on receipt of the funds, the seller’s solicitor will notify your solicitor that the keys can be collected.

The keys are normally collected from the acting estate agents’ office and completion usually takes place around lunchtime, though it will depend on when the funds are received by the seller’s solicitor.

  • Stage six: post-completion

Your solicitor will see to the filing of a stamp duty land tax return to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or a land transaction tax return to the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) and the payment of any tax that is due on your behalf.[10]

Your solicitor will also register the property in your name with HM Land Registry[11]. When registration is completed, your solicitor will send you an updated version of the title to the property, showing you as the registered owner. If you are purchasing a leasehold property[12], the lease will be registered in your name.

This is often also an important time to consider whether you should make a Will to ensure your property, along with any other assets, would pass in accordance with your wishes. For more information on our Will drafting services and fees, please contact a member of our Private Client department.

Notes:

[1] New build properties are properties that are to be, are in the process of, or have just been built by a developer. The conveyancing process is slightly different when you are purchasing a new build property. Please contact our team for further information.

[2] At CJCH Solicitors, we offer a fixed fee service for conveyancing with no hidden costs. This means that the quote for our legal fees will be for a fixed amount and will not increase, provided no unforeseen work is required (if it is, we agree any further costs with you beforehand).  

[3] This will include information on the title to the property, the sale agreement, and forms completed by the seller providing details about the property and its fixtures and fittings, together with supporting documents.

[4] An agreement by your lender to lend a certain amount to you based on the information you have supplied at that stage. A formal application will need to follow to the lender before they formally grant you the loan.

[5] This is a government scheme which could help fund up to 20% of your new build home, leaving you with a 5% deposit to pay (rather than a 10% deposit which is normally required) and a 75% mortgage. There are different rules that apply to properties in England and properties in Wales (Help to Buy and Help to Buy Wales are separate organisations). Please contact us for further information.

[6] Search reports are carried out through an independent search provider. The searches can provide essential information on issues such as the property’s highways, connections to the sewage and water drainage systems, flood/contamination/subsidence risks and planning permission and building regulation documents relating to the property, to name just a few.

[7] The completion date is the date that you finalise the purchase and are able to collect the keys to the property.

[8] You will need to ensure you have a buildings insurance policy in place for the property for this date.

[9] This is where there are a number of linked sales and purchases that are all reliant on one another to complete. Naturally, the longer the chain, the longer the conveyancing process tends to take.

[10] For most purchases, there is a duty to inform HMRC or the WRA of the purchase via a return, even if no tax is payable.

[11] An organisation that registers ownership of property and land in England and Wales.

[12] This is where you have an agreement with a landlord called a lease that, amongst other things, will state how long you will have ownership of a property. The landlord is often the person/organisation that owns the freehold title to the property. At the end of the lease, ownership returns back to the landlord. If you own a freehold title to a property, you basically own the property outright.

Landlord and tenant issues: How long are you willing to wait to recover possession of your property?

By Nerys Thomas.

Generation rent (generation of young people living in rented accommodation with little immediate chance of becoming home owners due to the high cost of property) is an ever-increasing reality within the UK.  Whilst this is good news for landlords, whether they have one rental property to their name or those with large property portfolios, being a landlord can at times be compared to a costly roller coaster experience, especially when attempting to recover possession of your property.

Fundamentally, no landlord can recover possession of their property without the tenant providing vacant possession or the court ordering for the tenant to vacate.  If the tenant does not leave the property following a court order being obtained, landlords must then apply for a court approved bailiff to undertake an eviction.  All of which can become an expensive and time-consuming situation, where the landlord is usually already aggrieved e.g. unpaid rent.        

The Ministry of Justice published statistics in November 2017 surrounding landlord possession proceedings.  It is pleasing to note from this publication that the actual number of possession claims directed to court are slowly reducing, but those claims which are directed to court have seen the time frames for the matters being addressed marginally increasing.  On average, the Ministry of Justice inform us that it could take 11.4 weeks from the filing of a claim at court to getting a possession order.  This means that if your tenant has fallen into rent arrears and you have served the appropriate notice it will take, on average, just shy of three months from filing your claim at court to the matter being considered by a Judge.  That would potentially be three further months where rent is not being paid.

It is detailed in the Ministry of Justice report that it will take on average 41.2 weeks from the date of issuing a claim at court for possession to actually recovering possession, should a tenant fail to adhere to the court order requiring that he/she vacates, and a court approved bailiff is employed to undertake an eviction.  Once again, if the reason for pursuing possession is rent arrears, this time frame is likely to result in an eye-watering debt owed to the landlord.     

Please note that the Ministry of Justice statistics have been collated across England and Wales, therefore the true situation in your local court may vary depending on the court’s workload.  Nevertheless, the figures are a clear warning for landlords to try and protect themselves where possible.

At CJCH Solicitors, we have the experience and knowledge of providing an all-encompassing service in relation to landlord and tenant matters, whether this is to safeguard the landlord prior to entering into a rental agreement; when disputes have arisen or to recover possession and/or rent arrears through the court process.  Should you wish to discuss your situation further or seek assistance with a dispute, contact Nerys Thomas at disputeresolution@cjch.co.uk or by telephone on 0333 231 6405.

Welsh Landlords face fines of up to £250 and loss of rental income if non-compliant

CJCH Solicitors on RENT SMART WALES – 23 November 2016

rentsmartwales-logoAn estimated 50% of private landlords in Wales have yet to apply to Rent Smart Wales leaving them exposed to potential fines and legal action for non-compliance. If you own a property which is rented out on your behalf, or you manage your own rental property then as of this morning, 23 November 2016, the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 is already in place for you. Here’s everything you need to know:
Rent Smart Wales registration came into effect as of midnight which requires all private landlords to be registered. If you manage the property yourself, there is a further requirement for you to be licenced to do so.
The aim is to improve the standards of management in the private rental sector. Failure to comply is officially an offence and from today the enforcement powers are now active. A potential penalty of either £150 or £250 fine is applicable, with further action including being prevented from managing your properties altogether.
If you have your properties managed by an agent then you are only required to register and do not require a Licence. It is the agent’s responsibility to apply for a Licence (But you are responsible for ensuring that your chosen agent is licensed).

  1. Registration only:
    The registration costs £33.50 if you apply for it on-line and if you want to make a paper application this route will cost £88.50.
  2. Registration and Licence required:
    For private landlords who manage their own properties, in addition to registering there is a course which needs to be taken to enable you to obtain a licence to manage a property. Courses are offered separately and you must obtain a minimum mark of 70% to qualify. Once completed, you then apply for a Licence for which Rent Smart Wales will charge £144.00 (online) or £186.00 (paper application).

If you have not already applied for registration or a Licence you should arrange this as quickly as possible.
As a Landlord the Licence lasts for 5 years, but you have to provide accurate information about yourself and your properties and by law must keep your information up to date. This includes adding any additional properties you may acquire, or indeed sell, or any changes in your personal details.
The Licence may be granted with conditions attached and if you break the conditions or are considered no longer `fit and proper` then the Licence can be revoked which means you will no longer be able to undertake any letting or management activities.
Do not ignore your obligations to register as it may cause you problems in the future when you try to rent your properties
In addition to the penalties mentioned above, Rent Smart Wales can apply for a Rent Stopping Order or a Rent Repayment order. This would mean that if you try to rent a property without being registered or by using an unlicensed agent your tenant would not be liable for rent (would not be legally required to pay you rent) and you would not be able to serve a section 21 Notice to obtain possession of a property as an unregistered /unlicensed landlord.
It is not too late to get compliant. We can assist if you need advice or support.

 

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(Disclaimer: Information in this article is referenced from the Rent Smart and Welsh government Websites, with the Rent Smart Logo provided for identification)