No one claims that the UK referendum vote on Brexit, for leaving the European Union (EU), has created immediate economic and political stability throughout the country. For weeks we have watched a high-profile version of political ‘musical chairs’ and it appears that the game is nowhere near being done. In terms of the residential property market, there are mixed opinions in terms of what Brexit’s long-term impact will be. Many experts in fact – from mortgage advisers to estate agents to conveyance solicitors– are also still divided when it comes to Brexit’s short-term impact. This month the Bank of England made reference to survey data that pointed to significant weakening when it came to expected activity within the housing market following the referendum. So if the property market really is quieter than normal this summer, is it a good time to purchase right now? Are buyers in a stronger negotiating position?
The main thing to keep in mind is not to panic in the midst of all of this uncertainty. Even within a post-Brexit environment, the fundamental principles governing good conveyancing – which is the legal process of property being transferred from one owner over a new one – is still true. If you plan to purchase residential property, the following points are all ones you should keep in mind.
Hire a Solicitor
If any problems arise, you will need to have the right legal paperwork. Surprisingly, there are many first-time buyers who start down the path of purchasing property without realising the necessity of conveyancing. It is very risky to buy a house without having assistance from a skilled and experienced legal solicitor.
Get a Specialist Surveyor
Make sure you take the proper precautions so that you have a thorough understanding of what condition the property is in that you are thinking about purchasing. Carefully inspect your prospective future home. Don’t be afraid that you are being too difficult. Flush toilets. Run taps. If your purchase includes used or new kitchen appliances, make sure they work properly. For your own peace of mind, a specialist surveyor should be hired to identify any potential problems that your prospective new home might have, like damp or structural issues. If any problems are found, but you would like to buy the property anyway, then you can feel confident about negotiating on the price.
Make sure that searches (enquiries with the authorities) are carried out by your solicitor regarding issues that may affect the property, like planning constraints or flood risk.
Snagging Inspector for New-builds
If you are purchasing a new-build home a professional ‘snagging’ inspector should be hired. Snagging refers to the process of identifying structural defects within a building and then resolving them. You shouldn’t assume that comprehensive snagging has been carried out by the property developer. Assuming that could be an expensive and frustrating mistake. You might have just spent six to seven figures on a new house. Why don’t the locks on the windows work? Why does the door stick? Why is there damaged paint work? Unfortunately it is common for snagging to be a source of conflict between property developers and buyers. Your conveyancing solicitor can advise you on the best way to approach snagging issues.
Do Not Haste
Check to see if the property’s tenure (how it is owned) is, for instance a freehold (absolute and permanent ownership or land or property) or leasehold (a fixed ownership term of property).
Think twice, if you don’t feel you can trust the seller. Usually our instincts tend to be right. Just keep looking. You can always find other options. It is better to pass up on a specific property than it is making an irreversible and regrettable commitment.
Once the buyer and seller have exchanged signed contracts, they are legally bound. There might be large financial penalties if you back out of the deal.
Buying a home can be the most expensive purchase that you ever make in your life. However, if you plan thoroughly and carefully and have a good conveyancing solicitor to help you, then your house can also be the best purchase that you ever make in your life.