Do your homework to avoid the pitfalls that derail sales
A RECENT survey has uncovered the alarming statistic that 40 per cent of agreed house purchases fail to make it to completion and clearly there is little anything the hapless purchaser can do if the seller decides they do not wish to proceed. However, there are four proactive measures a buyer can put in place.
Negotiate. There is the old adage that a property is worth what someone is prepared for it. True, but in today’s uncertain economic climes surely “the ability to finance” is a more appropriate take on that old property cliché. It is all well and good cracking open the bottle of bubbly on hearing the news from the amiable estate agent that the deal is done, only to have your dreams dashed when the not-so-friendly mortgage valuer down values your dream home below the tolerance threshold. Essential therefore, to ensure that prior to offering, you carry out the same analysis as that conducted by the mortgage valuer. Take a look at www.nethouseprices.com for recent comparable sales in the area and www.rightmove.co.uk to check the guide prices of other properties on the market.
You may think the property is perfect in every possible way but, before entering into any negotiations, it is important to take a step back and do a little more DIY due diligence on the property prior to purchase. Try and look at the property objectively rather than subjectively. I would always advise prospective homeowners to download the office copies and title plan from the land registry website www.landregistry.gov. uk . Here you will manage to establish whether the boundaries are as they are being advertised and spot any restrictions or onerous covenants that may be applicable to the property without incurring abortive costs from your solicitor. You should also go on the local authority website to check what planning applications have been received and/or granted within the immediate locality. The general amenity of the beautiful Old Vicarage is not going to be enhanced by the construction of the wind turbines or the waste incinerator plant located half a mile from your rural dream where recent planning applications have just been passed.
Once you have agreed to purchase your dream home you enter the “sold subject to contract period”. To ensure that no extraneous matters can affect the purchase it is critical to make this period as short as possible. Ensure you have a solicitor on your side who is efficient. Take advice from those you know have bought recently and speak to the estate agents and find out who they would recommend.
We would always recommend getting a full structural survey before committing to the exchange of contracts. The survey is not to be looked at as a simple tool for renegotiation. If purchasing a period property one has to accept that it will not be in perfect condition and there is likely to be the odd tile slippage or mild damp – this is common place.
The surveyor you choose to carry out your survey is almost as important as choosing which solicitor you use. You need a surveyor who understands the buying process and you want them to give practical advice. I always feel for the surveyor and do not envy their task. They put their necks on the line every day of the week for fear of potential litigation if the perfect (at the time of survey) Grade II listed chimney decides to fall from grace two months after completion. The typical structural report will express caution on all aspects of your purchase and you will automatically doubt your sanity in purchasing what appeared to be your dream home. I tend to advise my clients towards a surveyor who is happy to talk in layman’s speak, give good practical advice in a “say it how I see sort of way.” As with my comments regarding solicitors, go on recommendation.