Dawn Brogan

One foot on the ladder to Home Ownership – Dec 2011

Getting a foot on the ladder to home ownership tends to need a decent sized deposit these days as a lot of lenders are still looking for you to have around 25% deposit to put down before they will consider offering a mortgage.

Some people seem to have been saving hard over the last few years while the housing market has been uncertain but quite often getting enough deposit together can involve help with contribution from a family member.

Bear in mind with deposits that your solicitor will need evidence and full details of your source of funds and your lender needs to consent to there being a third party contribution.

You also need to think in advance about whether this money is an outright gift or whether it is a loan or needs to be repaid and it is advisable to discuss this at an early stage with your solicitor so you can consider carefully what is right for you.

Sometimes a lender will refuse to consent to a third party putting money in unless the money is an outright gift. Other times, the money can be protected as a legal charge ranking second behind the lender. Another option might be to consider having a declaration of trust drawn up to record the agreement.

It is always worth discussing options with your solicitor so you have plenty of time to work out what suits your circumstances.

Currently, qualifying first time buyers are eligible for nil stamp duty land tax on purchases up to £250,000.00 but people will need to act quick in the new year to benefit – the first time buyer stamp duty land tax incentive is due to expire 24th March 2012.

Dawn Brogan : Glanvilles

Solar Panels

I previously wrote about all the rain we have been having and issues with flooding. Turning now to a sunnier subject – Solar Panels. It is important to investigate arrangements in detail when buying a property if it has solar panels and also before signing up to any agreement for solar panels on a property you may already own.

Usually there will be a lease arrangement where the home owner leases part of the property to a company eg the air space above the roof and the right to use the roof for support. The owner may benefit from the electricity that is generated and the company may sell any surplus to the National Grid. The company often has the right to recover any losses they may suffer if you do something to the property which affects their rights under the lease and these could be substantial over a long period.

Things to think about could include:-

1. whether planning permission should first be obtained if the property does not have ‘permitted development rights’or whether building regulation consent is needed.

2. whether the property title has restrictions on alterations, additions or use.

3.  if there is a mortgage then the lender may need to be involved and give their consent before works start. They usually require a clause to protect them if they need to enforce the mortgage

4. the wording of the lease – sometimes you can find that the lease arrangements for a few solar panels on your roof are more onerous than an average commercial lease of big commercial premises! They may not be acceptable to some lenders or to buyers

5. whether it may affect the value of your property

You should involve your solicitor before signing any agreement or lease and if you are buying a property that already has solar panels then make sure the arrangements are checked out carefully by your solicitor. You could find the scheme ties in the property for up to 25 years or that the company has a right to renew the lease. You need to get clear advice what you are taking on as it could affect the marketability of your home.

Some Top Tips if your Property is unoccupied in winter

This
year we have had a fairly mild start to winter but it is inevitable that the
cold spell will hit at some point and it might be worth planning ahead now to
prepare for it.

Last
winter a client had a major leak at their property following a burst pipe. The
client had already moved out and the property was sat empty – they were only alerted
to the problem after the neighbour spotted water pouring out of the upstairs
window. Luckily they had left a key with their estate agent who went to the
property to turn off the water supply but the damage was already significant –
collapsed ceilings, wet carpets and a lot of mess to sort out.

Some
pointers to think about, especially if your property is left empty for periods
of time:-

  • Make
    sure a spare key is left with someone, such as your estate agent or a
    local friend or relative.

  • Ensure
    the property is regularly checked – it would be worth asking a friend or
    relative to pop in every day

  • Make
    sure you know where your stop cock is and let others know

  • Keep
    contact numbers up to date so you can be contacted in an emergency.

  • Make
    sure your insurance policy is still in force

  • Double
    check any additional terms and conditions your insurer might have for
    empty properties to ensure your policy remains valid in the event of a
    claim.

  • It
    will be a condition of your insurance policy to prevent loss or damage and
    keep the property in good repair. Consider keeping the heating on and
    check the boiler and heating are in good working order

  • Ensure
    pipes and water tanks are lagged

  • Consider
    keeping the loft hatch ajar so warm air can circulate any pipes in the
    loft

 Dawn Brogan, Glanvilles, Havant

Dawn Brogan : Glanvilles

Think about Flood Risk when buying a property

We wouldn’t be British if the subject of the weather didn’t feature in daily conversation and you may have noticed that we have had a particularly wet summer this year. Wellies have been the footwear of choice at music festivals, no-one has been able to go anywhere without an umbrella, and sporting events from school sports day to Silverstone have all had their fair share of interruption. More seriously though, there have also been incidents of flooding around the country and it is becoming more and more important for home owners to assess the risk of the potential for flooding in their neighbourhood.

Flooding is an issue that a buyer should consider carefully before purchasing a property. A flood search can be undertaken by your solicitor and this usually comes back with information from data held in records by the search provider and usually gives a low, moderate or high risk of flooding assessment.

There is currently an arrangement in place which ensures that insurers are obliged to offer cover to all property owners, regardless of their flood risk.  However this arrangement expires in June 2013 when the current Statement of Principles adopted by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) comes to an end.

So in less than a year, insurers will no longer be obliged to offer cover to properties deemed to be at high risk of flooding. You could find insurance cover withdrawn and the property becoming uninsurable which could put you in breach of mortgage conditions and affect future value or saleability of the property. Owners of properties in moderate risk areas may see their premiums increased. Even where cover may be available, insurance companies can put additional requirements on customers as a condition of future cover for example to ensure that they have appropriate flood defences in place.

Before buying a property, speak to your solicitor about getting a flood search. It is also important to have a survey when you buy a property and take advice from your surveyor and you can also contact the Environment Agency for information.