Ask the agent…

Buying a new home can be one of the most exciting, yet daunting, times of your life. With so much to consider whether its location, price or access to schools and places of work, often some of the finer details can get lost in the excitement. To help ensure you get the home of your dreams, we thought we’d outline some key things to ask your agent before you sign on the dotted line…

A good starting point is to ask how long the property has been on the market? Arguably the most important question of them all, as it can give a good indication to how sought after the potential home is. If it has been on for a while, ask the agent why they think that is or how many viewings or offers there have been. This information can help determine whether there could be room for an offer.

Gaining a good understanding of the local area is key. Enquire about local schools, amenities and transport links, even if you don’t use local transport or have children. It is always useful to know for future reference.

Ask how long have the vendors been at the property, as if it has changed hands repeatedly in a short space of time there may be a reason why. You could also ask why the current owners are moving to potentially gain a better understanding of the home’s strengths or weaknesses.

It is always useful to know if a property is Freehold or Leasehold, as both will provide different options and rights, which may appeal to you. This can also make a difference to the property’s price and appeal in any onward sale.

Remember that often the first viewing is the more ‘emotional’ one – do you like the property, can you see yourself living there and does it excite you? If you like what you see, book a second viewing to go into more detail and to ask the more specific questions even if it relates to how old the boiler is or how regularly is it serviced?

When viewing the property for a second time, we suggest viewing it at a different time of the day. This will allow you to gain a better understanding of which rooms benefit from sun at different times, through to how busy the street is and whether there are any potential issues such as a lack of parking spaces.

If you’re viewing a property for investment or for development potential, ask if the building has had any planning passed, applied for or if there are any boundary issues. It could save any disappointment in the future if planning has already been rejected.

With a network of estate agents across Cheshire, Shropshire and Derbyshire, we have property experts on hand to help with the whole home buying or selling process. With the right help at hand, the whole experience can be an enjoyable and exciting one. So remember, when looking to find the home of your dreams, don’t forget to ask your agent.

An ABC guide to EPC ratings

Today all domestic and commercial buildings in the UK that are available to buy or rent are required by law to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). So what are they and why do we need to bother?

In the simplest form they are very similar to the colour coded stickers you see on domestic appliances such as fridges and washing machines that provide information on how energy efficient the appliance is. An EPC works in pretty much the same way, only on a bigger scale for your whole home.

The EPC rates the building on a scale ranging from A (coloured green) which is the most energy efficient, to G (coloured red) which is the least energy efficient. Most traditional homes currently appear around grade D.

The EPC is useful to house hunters as it contains vital information about a property’s energy use and the resulting typical energy costs involved in running the home. Two ‘readings’ are given – one states the level of efficiency that your home is currently achieving, the other suggests what level of efficiency your home could be achieving if you were to put particular energy-efficient measures in place.

Examples of how to improve a home’s EPC can range from simply installing energy saving light bulbs and draught proofing to making more comprehensive improvements, such as replacing an ageing boiler, putting in secondary glazing or upgrading heating controls. Any measures that are likely to have an impact on improving overall energy efficiency will be positively evaluated.

It’s good to know as much as possible about your new home’s energy efficiency before you move in as it will give you a good idea of the amount of money you might need to spend on the house in future, whether it’s on energy-efficient measures or just on your energy bills.

For example, new homes are already six times more energy-efficient and generate over 60% less CO2 emissions than older style homes, which is the equivalent of driving 10,000 miles less a year per household. So new home owners can take comfort that they are doing their bit for the environment. But it’s not just about the planet, improved energy efficiency saves money too and living in a new four bed home can reduce energy bills by more than £500 per year.

It is also worth noting either as a home owner, or a renter, that from April 2018, it will be unlawful under the Energy Act 2011 to let a residential property on a new contract with an EPC rating of F or G – the lowest two categories. In addition, from April 2016, tenants living in F and G rated homes will be able to request that their landlord takes measures to improve the energy efficiency, with the landlord duty bound to respond within a month with a view to bringing the property up to the minimum E rating.
For more information and advice on property EPC’s, please don’t hesitate to pop into one of our branches or contact our team on xxxx.

Brexit – Good or bad news for property sales?

So the people have spoken. The wider debate has been characterised by extreme arguments on both sides of the argument, many of which have been unhelpful and divisive. But regardless of individual opinions, the result is as it is and we the nation must, and will, move forward. Since the result was announced, the office has been very busy with clients wanting to know our response as to how the Brexit vote will affect the housing market. This article attempts to explore some of the implications.

The overall mood seems to be one of surprise at the outcome, even from those who voted to leave. There is also, understandably, a sense of confusion and uncertainty. However, it is important to try and find balance in all remarks and apply as many applicable facts as are possible, in order to diagnose the likely effect on the housing market.

The first aspect to note is that we have not yet left the EU. This will only happen two years after the trigger of Article 50, which is likely to occur in November 2016 at the earliest. So, in that sense, nothing has actually yet changed.

The second important element is that vast majority of transactions are within the UK – so talk of exports, imports and the value of the pound are not really that applicable to the vast majority of property sales.

Finance is of course critical to the buying and selling of property. This has two elements – the ability of banks and building societies to lend and the personal financial circumstances that people find themselves in. From the point of view of liquidity, financial institutions are much better prepared than they were for the absolutely dire global recession of 2007 / 2008. Also, as is evidenced by many independent mortgage brokers and experts, there have been little if any changes to rates or policies. The comments of Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England would also suggest that interest rates should stay low for the foreseeable future. Good news for house buyers, bad news for those with savings! With regards to personal financial circumstances this basically comes downs to job security, wages growth and a general sense of optimism. If all three these three start to decline sharply then a detrimental effect on the market, both in price and transactions, is inevitable. If all three hold steady or increase, then so will the housing market. It was ever thus!

Finally, I have tried to gather some snippets of opinion from external experts – Martin Lewis the founder of Money Saving Expert, Mervyn King – ex governor of the Bank of England and Best Invest – significant fund managers. I think that all are fair minded and set a fair and appropriate context.

Martin Lewis

“The most important thing to say to people is: ‘Don’t panic.’

“Nothing has actually changed yet. There is time for things to play through.

“If nobody ­panics then there will be time to make the decisions, so the best thing to do is take a deep breath, keep calm and carry on.”

Mervyn King

“The City is much more than a small number of banks that want to trade securities in Europe… There are obviously uncertainties in the short-run, I don’t want to underplay that. But the idea this is a doom and gloom story seems to me wildly exaggerated.”

Best Invest

Despite the current turbulence in markets, we don’t believe the economic predictions from either campaign had any real validity and, despite an expectation for a short-term GDP hit, the underlying economic impact is likely to be limited in the grand scheme of things.

If you wish to discuss anything further about the above, e-mail [email protected] phone 01829 731300 or 07515 063337 or come in to the office to discuss over a coffee.

By Robert Reed – Office Manager