March deadline is only few months away, what can you do to complete on property in time?
Are you planning to buy a property and benefit from Stamp Duty Holiday but you are left feeling frustrated now that coronavirus measures have ground the housing market to a temporary halt? Take advantage of the stamp duty holiday before time runs out on 31st March 2021! The average time to complete on a property once an offer is accepted is 12 weeks, but currently due to pandemic, it takes longer. You have to act quick! March deadline is only few month away, what can you do to complete on property in time?
8 Top Tips How to boost your chances of completing before the Stamp Duty Holiday deadline 31st March 2021
- Get your finances in place
Speak to your mortgage broker or bank and make sure you have your mortgage in principle. Many people start searching for properties before they know how much mortgage they will get exactly, don’t fall into this trap, it will make the process a lot longer.
Work out how much of a deposit for the mortgage you can get and how much mortgage you will get, this will give you exact budget for your property search. Decide what sort of mortgage you want or can get. While you cannot get a mortgage before you buy, you can get a mortgage in principle, which will put you in a stronger position and save a lot of time.
A mortgage broker can be particularly helpful if you would like advice on mortgages, to scan the full range of mortgages in the market or if you have special circumstances such as being self-employed (it gets complicated for self-employed people and it takes longer, so make sure you are acting quick). Remember, online mortgage calculations are just to give you an idea of how much you will get, make sure you provide your documentation to broker so he gives you the exact amount.
- Hire a solicitor / conveyancer
Most people would tell you that there is no point to get solicitor until your offer is accepted. I strongly advise otherwise, especially if you are in a rush!
You can get a solicitor or conveyancer before you even start searching, have the contract sign which requires to complete few steps before this is done and if we put this to time, it takes on average about two weeks, just to appoint solicitor! You will need to certify your ID, provide proof of address which sometimes you need to request from utility providers etc, all of this takes time, which you do not have. Solicitors will handle the legal work to transfer ownership of the property to you, and they must do a lot of due diligence to establish that you are the person you say you are, where your finances come from etc.
Choosing solicitor early, will also give you time to work out how much conveyancing will cost you, prices for the same service are very much different. Make sure you shop around, do your research, sometimes it is better to pay more and get the process done quicker, but this is not always the case, there are times that solicitor is expensive and slow… Check reviews, speak to others who can recommend solicitor who act quick, this is going to be your most important decision, if you want to complete before the Stamp Duty Holiday Deadline.
The solicitor or conveyancer will do the searches, such as with the local authority and Environment Agency, to ensure there are not any major problems with the property, this normally takes time.
- Searching for property – Use your imagination
We often see that buyers make an emotional decision when purchasing the house. Which means that often they rule out the property because first impression was not good to them. On few occasions we have staged the property, so buyers could imagine how it could look like, they loved it and placed an offer. Be open for ideas, always try to imagine what can be done with the place you are buying. You can always go back with builder and ask how much would cost you to do it up to your liking.
- Investigate to Negotiate
A house is only ever worth what someone is prepared to pay.
Check how does the listing compare to others that are on the market, find out how long it has been on the market, what is the vendors position, why are they selling (If the vendor needs to relocate for work he probably has a deadline they need to meet). Calculate how much it will cost you to do work that needs doing in property? You can also hire an independent agent to negotiate the purchase of the property for you, not many people use this service, but in my opinion, this is quite good idea actually.
- Make an offer
After you did your research, calculated all costs, make an offer. Offers with mortgage in principle will be taken a lot more seriously, make sure you have that be prepared to pay holding deposit to show your interest and seriousness. If your offer is lower than asking price to make sure you write why it is lower, use the above pointers I have listed in “Investigate to Negotiate” section. For example, there is a 2 bedroom advertised for 380 000, you are offering 350000 because you need to put 20K to refurbish the property, there is other 2 bedroom in the area for 380 000 but ready to move without work needed, there is a one bedroom advertised for 315000 on the same road with almost the same sq feet as the two bedroom that you are trying to buy, etc..
- Arrangements and communication
After your offer has been accepted, you need to be quick. Make sure you keep on communicating with all parties. If you are buying property from an agent, they should be speeding the sale process too, but make sure you are in constant touch with them, Keep asking for update, what it was done, what is due to be done, what can you do to help etc. The same with conveyancer and mortgage broker / bank. Banks are extremely difficult now, in the last minute they may ask for additional documents, make sure you are always on top of the process.
Have your deposit ready to transfer, do not feel afraid to ask questions.
- Exchange and complete contracts
Aim to exchange contracts ASAP. When you exchange contracts with the seller you become legally committed to buying the property – and they are legally committed to selling it to you
You can only exchange contracts after the solicitor/conveyancer is satisfied with the searches, a formal mortgage offer has been received, and arrangements made for the 10% deposit, don’t make the rush to lead you to trouble, have everything checked. Before you exchange contracts, you need to agree a completion date with the seller, make sure it is before the stamp duty holiday deadline and allow some time for delays.
Have your buildings insurance for the property from the date of exchange, as you are responsible for it from then on, it is usually a condition of the mortgage that you have buildings insurance in place, have that ready.
- Collect keys and pay no stamp duty
You have made it on time! Go and collect the keys to your new home, congratulations!
In normal circumstances you would need to pay Stamp Duty, but you have made it before the 31st March Stamp Duty Holiday deadline, you have not only keys to your new home, but also saved thousands of Pounds on stamp Duty, Congratulations again!
Local Property Expert
AUTHOR OF BRIXTON PROPERTY BLOG, CEO, Kings Accommodation