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Every individual’s circumstances are different and when deciding whether it is best to purchase a freehold or leasehold property only you as the buyer can decide what is best for you.

Do you like your own space, not have to answer to anyone (within reason) or simply own a pet? Then a Freehold property may be more to your liking. If none of these are of concern to you then a Leasehold Property may be an option. When choosing a freehold or leasehold property, it is worth considering the following;

Freehold; you will own both the property and the land allowing you complete control over the property until such time you choose to sell. You are able to change the windows, replace doors, modify the property (subject to statutory requirements/covenants in the title) and apply for extensions, internal alterations etc..  You will not have to worry about service charges or ground rent for the property itself and can therefore budget more easily and have control over what you spend money on in respect of the upkeep of the property.

Leasehold; you will only own the property and not the land it sits on. Flats tend to be leasehold. The freeholder (Landlord) will own the actual building and will grant leases of the individual flats. It is a time-sensitive entity that you will only own for a certain amount of time and will depreciate in value once the term of the lease reduces to 80 years. You will not own communal areas such as the stairs/gardens as these are owned by the Freeholder.

You of course get to pay for this privilege by way of a service charge and ground rent. The cost of service charges and ground rent is governed by the lease and by what expenditure is required year on year for the maintenance and upkeep of the block.  If any major works are required then these can prove very costly.  Often the Landlord will employ a management company to manage the collection of service charges and ground rent. The management company will arrange for works to be carried out as and when required but their administration costs can be high and this is often another contentious point for leaseholders.

There may be covenants in the lease whereby you may need the Landlords consent to have a pet, rent out the property or carry out internal alterations and consent may not always be given thereby restricting your enjoyment of the property. Both freehold and leasehold property have their positives and negatives. A freehold property has fewer restrictions and allows more freedom. A leasehold property has more restrictions, however, you will not be responsible for the maintenance of the structure of the building or the building’s insurance.

Leasehold flats also tend to be cheaper to purchase than a freehold house which means that they are more appealing to first-time buyers trying to get on the property ladder.

If you require more advice on the best option for you and whether to choose a freehold or leasehold …Talk to Tollers conveyancing team on 01602 258558 and they will be happy to guide you through.

 

 

Conveyancing is the name for the legal process of transferring ownership of property such as land and buildings from one party to another.

The process

The process begins when the buyer and seller agree to the terms of the sale of a property (usually via an estate agent) and ends at the point of legal completion when the money changes hands and the keys are handed over.  The process requires that both buyer and seller each appoint a specialist lawyer known as a ‘conveyancer’ to carry out the necessary legal work on their behalf. A conveyancer is usually a solicitor, licensed conveyancer, or legal executive.

The conveyancing system has a set process that has to be observed and there are many parts of that process.  An average transaction takes between twelve and sixteen weeks. The process begins with the seller’s conveyancer providing a draft contract, the seller’s completed property questionnaires and a package of title papers evidencing the seller’s ownership together with copy title deeds and supporting papers such as planning permissions, building regulations approvals and guarantees) to the buyer’s conveyancer for review.  The buyer’s conveyancer will then carry out a number of searches, the standard ones being a local, drainage and environmental search.  The buyer’s conveyancer will then review the draft contract, the legal title to the property, all search results, any mortgage offer and their client’s source of purchase funds, updating their clients at each stage where appropriate.  In many cases the buyer’s conveyancer, once they have reviewed the various searches and title papers will need to raise a number of enquiries with the seller’s conveyancer who may then need to obtain further instructions from their seller clients. Once the seller’s conveyancer has fully satisfied the buyer’s conveyancer’s enquiries the buyer’s conveyancer can then report to the buyer upon any matters relating to the property of which the buyer should be aware and provide the various papers for signature.  Once all parties have returned their signed papers to their respective conveyancers’ arrangements can be made for the buyer to pay their deposit to their conveyancer and the parties’ conveyancers can agree a completion date.  Contracts are then exchanged, making the transaction legally binding and fixing the completion date.  On the completion date the monies are paid to by the buyer’s conveyancers to the seller’s conveyancers and once those funds are received the keys can be released to the buyer.

Talk to Tollers

We know that selling or buying a property and navigating your way through the process can be a daunting experience, particularly to first-time buyers.  At Tollers our staff are extremely experienced and will provide friendly support to you throughout the transaction.  We are easily contactable by telephone or email and our clients frequently advise in their feedback to us that they have found us to be approachable.

If you are looking to buy or sell a property…Talk to Tollers to obtain a quotation on 01604 258558.

More about the process…

The conveyancing services Tollers provide…

How to prevent a property you own being sold without your consent is very much on people’s mind at the moment, following all of the press coverage regarding a gentleman of the cloth who had his house sold out from under him.

On the 1st November of this year, the BBC broke the story that the Reverend Mike Hall, who owned a property in Luton, was contacted by his neighbours to say that major works were being carried out at his house whilst he was working away in North Wales (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-59069662).

Needless to say, the Reverend was reported as being shocked to hear this news, as he had not arranged for any works to take place at the property!

We understand from the press coverage that the Reverend was a victim of identity theft which allowed criminals to pose as him and effectively sell the property.

Whilst the criminals here were very sophisticated and had begun the process of defrauding the Reverend by first stealing his identity, they may have been slightly stymied if the property had been listed on the Land Registry’s Property Alert service (https://propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk/)

Whilst this does not necessarily stop fraudulent transactions, it does perhaps add a layer of security for individuals who own property, as the Land Registry’s system will alert them to any “significant activity” 1 taken against the property.  The owner will then need to decide if the activity is potentially fraudulent or not and act accordingly.  If you receive the alert and do nothing, the criminals will still be able to move forward with their fraudulent transaction.

We have previously reported on this very handy tool of the Land Registry and I would suggest that anyone who wants to know more have a quick look at our earlier article, which sets out the details in more depth.  Conveyancing scams – during Covid-19 – Tollers Solicitors.

It is particularly useful if you are living away from the property or have multiple properties which you own, as you can monitor up to 10 properties at a time.

If you have any questions regarding HM Land Registry, preventing a property from being sold without consent and protecting your property…talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 our teams will be happy to assist.

As we have all seen in the press this last year has seen some major stamp duty changes which have, in turn, had a significant impact on those of us in conveyancing.

We started the year on the basis that the Stamp Duty threshold would be reducing from the highest that we have seen in at least 20 years, from £500,000 back to the standard level of Stamp Duty starting at £125,000 in March of this year. This meant that the majority of conveyancing matters would have needed to complete by the end of March 2021 for the buyers to benefit from the Stamp Duty holiday.

However, as the more keen-eyed of us will recall, the Chancellor changed his mind in March and extended the Stamp Duty holiday until the end of June for properties valued up to £500,000 in the April Budget.

It was also here that some misunderstandings ensued, as the Chancellor had actually extended the Stamp Duty holiday for properties up to the value of £250,000 until the end of September, but this had not been made clear in the media. Therefore, clients were becoming concerned that they would not benefit from the Stamp Duty holiday if they did not complete purchases of properties valued between £125,000 and £250,000 by the end of June.

The changes to the Stamp Duty thresholds meant that an unprecedented number of transactions were taking place across the profession and coincidentally meant a backlog on mortgage offers being issued and search results being returned, especially with the added complication of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing.

All the conveyancers within Tollers, along with their teams, stepped up to the plate and took on the challenge of the Stamp Duty changes as they took place.

Whilst there were some difficulties in searches being delayed and mortgage offers coming in later than expected Tollers conveyancing solicitors rose to the occasion and dealt with the challenges that came their way to ensure clients could move when they wanted to.

Tollers are now looking forward to the Autumn Budget and any changes to Stamp Duty that may be made, but are hoping that after this last twelve months, the Chancellor may leave any future changes to the Stamp Duty to next year at least.

Our residential property solicitors based in our main offices of Northampton, Corby, Stevenage have been helping clients across the East Midlands, the United Kingdom and internationally with all of their property matters. If you have a property query and would like to chat with a member of our conveyancing team…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 or make an online enquiry here.

What is Stamp Duty?

Reduced rates of stamp duty land tax (SDLT) lasting until 31 March 2021 were announced on 8 July 2020 with immediate effect. The holiday applies to all residential property, whether liable at standard rates or at higher rates, where completion occurs within the period 8 July 2020 to 31 March 2021.

New Rates of SDLT during the Holiday:

There is some guidance from HMRC here.

The table below shows the reduced rates of stamp duty land tax for “standard rate” purchases from 8 July 2020 onwards.

 

Relevant Consideration   Percentage
So much as does not exceed £500,0000%
So much as exceeds £500,000 but does not exceed £925,0005%
So much as exceeds £925,000 but does not exceed £1,500,00010%
o much as exceeds the remainder, if any12%

 

For “higher rates” purchases we have to add an extra 3% of the whole price. This means that the same reduction in the amount of SDLT applies to both kinds of transaction during the SDLT holiday period. The maximum saving for a transaction involving one dwelling is £15,000 and applies where the purchase price is £500,000 or more.

The standard rates apply for example where the buyers have no other properties or where they are selling an existing home and buying a new one.

The higher rates apply for example where a company buys residential property, or where individuals buy when they own another property and do not meet the “replacement of main residence” tests.

What if I had previously exchanged Contracts?

There is nothing to stop the benefit of the saving, so long as completion happens between 8 July 2020 and 31 March 2021. The only problem would be if there was “substantial performance” before 8 July 2020 which could be by taking possession of the property before then.

Does this saving apply to purchases of residential property by Companies?

Yes, these changes apply to higher rate transactions as well; we just add 3% of the price to the SDLT which would be due on the reduced standard rates.

Some buyers of a new home consider transferring their old home into a company so that the purchase of the new home can escape the 3% surcharge.  The company has to pay stamp duty land tax on the prevailing rates on the market value of the property it acquires.

There is still a trap for acquisitions by companies for over £500,000, where the 15% flat rate of SDLT can still apply. Care needs to be taken here to make sure that one of the reliefs from the 15% rate applies to leave the new SDLT rates (with the extra 3%) in place.

Those with buy to let portfolios who have been considering transferring the properties to a limited company will find the SDLT cost is lower than before the rates reduction. The limited company could be special purpose vehicle, perhaps a family investment company.

How does this work for Lease Extensions?

The same principles apply to the payments made for residential lease extensions.  So often there will be no SDLT to pay where the premium payable for the extended lease does not exceed £500,000.  But care needs to be taken in case the 3% surcharge applies.  This could be the case if the lessee (or a spouse / civil partner) has other property interests.

I am buying from a developer and agreed an allowance against the price for Stamp Duty.

If contracts have already been exchanged and the contract contains an allowance / incentive on account of stamp duty for a fixed amount of money, then it might well be that the allowance has to be taken off the amount paid to the developer at completion, even though there is now no (or reduced) SDLT to pay to HMRC. It will depend on the wording in the contract.

If contracts have not yet been exchanged, then the parties might need to renegotiate the allowance. For example they might decide instead to give the equivalent extra value through enhancements to the specification of the property or through a cash incentive.  This change might have to be notified to the lender, though many mortgage lenders have already said a new Disclosure of Incentives Forms will not be needed.

What about ‘Help to Buy’?

Homes England have confirmed that the ‘Help to Buy’ process is not affected by the stamp duty changes.  It is only increases in incentives which would need to be reflected in the Disclosure of Incentives Form required for ‘Help to Buy’ equity loans.  If the incentives switch from one form to another then the disclosure form does not need to be amended; this is only required where the incentives increase.  Incentives still cannot be more than 5% of the full purchase price.

What about First Time Buyers’ Relief?

First time buyers’ relief does not apply for the period of the holiday because the reduced rates are more generous than the rates where first time buyers’ relief applied, which only gave a relief for up to £300,000 of the price.  It is set to revive though after 31 March 2021.

For more information and guidance regarding the reduced rates of stamp duty land tax holiday… talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 and the Conveyancing and Commercial property teams will assist you.

https://www.tollers.co.uk/conveyancing-solicitors/

https://www.tollers.co.uk/commercial-property-law/

Following the very welcome news from the Government late last Tuesday that house moves can once again commence after seven weeks of suspension, further detailed updated guidance has now been issued by the Government to home movers and property professionals outlining how house moves are now to be conducted to reduce the risk of transmitting Covid-19.  The updated guidelines set out new procedures and advice on social distancing measures that need to be observed in order to ensure the safety of all involved on moving day.

Some key points you need to know:

The full guidance can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

Tollers residential conveyancing staff are making contact with our many valued clients, whose moves have been on hold during this time, to get their matters completed.

Although the government are now allowing house moves under these strict guidelines, the risk of Covid-19 has not of course gone away.  Our advice to clients will be wherever possible, to exchange contracts and complete matters on the same day.

Our reasoning behind this is that we want to work with our clients to minimise, as far as possible, the risk of their transaction failing to complete.  For example; due to parties in the chain becoming unwell, needing to self-isolate or if mortgages are withdrawn due to furlough/redundancy.

If you need further guidance and advice or wish to discuss how best to proceed with your sale or purchase…Talk to Tollers Conveyancing specialists on 01604 258558 or email enquiries@tollers.co.uk and they will be happy to assist.

https://www.tollers.co.uk/conveyancing-solicitors/conveyancing-services-buying-a-home/

https://www.tollers.co.uk/conveyancing-solicitors/property-conveyancing-selling-your-home/

If you are considering buying a property after the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown has been lifted, there are lots of things you can do now to prepare in order that when the time comes you can start the process more quickly.

To help Tollers have outlined below the things that you should do to prepare.

Make sure you have appointed a Solicitor:
Prepare all the documentation you need to buy your property:
What else can you do:

As well as putting together all of the necessary documentation in preparation to instruct your solicitor, if you have found a property you wish to buy, check out the area around your chosen property on the internet.  Look at the sold house prices in the area, compare the photographs from previous sales to check for any building work.

You may wish to also check to see how good the local schools are if you have a family or are planning one.  Check out your local amenities, is there a decent local pub?  Are shops easily accessible either by foot, car or public transport?   Are there plans for any new developments that could turn a sleepy village or quieter location into a busy estate? Better to be forewarned of anything that may affect you in the future and could have meant you would have made a different decision or offer if you had still decided to proceed.  One check that people often forget is to look at the local crime rates, there are websites where you can consider the crime statistics, such as https://crime-statistics.co.uk/postcode – do you want to take the risk of moving to a crime hotspot!

It is also important to keep up to date on the latest news regarding how the market will run once lockdown is lifted.  Government officials and property Industry representatives are meeting regularly and the advice can change quickly.

If you have any other questions on how to prepare for buying a property after lockdown Talk to Tollers Conveyancing Solicitors on 01604 258558 or email them at enquiries@tollers.co.uk and they will be happy to assist.

If you are considering selling your property in the future there are lots of things you can be preparing now in order to move more quickly after the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted.

Whilst we are all experiencing this unprecedented lockdown you could use your time to prepare your home and everything you need so that once the market is open again you can get things moving quickly.

To help Tollers have outlined below the things that you should do to prepare.

Make sure you have appointed a Solicitor:
Prepare all the documentation you need to sell your property:
What else can you do:

As well as putting together all of the necessary documentation in preparation for listing your property for sale, you can also use this time to finish any outstanding ‘Do it yourself’ jobs you may have.

Getting the most out of your home is and will be vital, if someone views your property (either virtually or eventually in person) and feels that they need to spend money on repairs or improvements this will affect what they are willing to pay.

So replace any broken tiles, fix any leaks, fill any cracks, paint out any scuff marks, touch up your paintwork to give the house a fresh feel, wash the windows, clean the carpets, Paint the front door,  whatever you feel will make your property more appealing to a buyer.  Decluttering rooms will not only help with any potential sale, but when the time comes will assist in the move to your new home.

Sort the garden and any external buildings you have.  Making the outdoors look as good as possible is as important as making the inside look good – kerb appeal and first impressions will count. So wash the patio, tidy the garage or shed and were possible, lockdown permitting, get rid of rubbish.  These things can take days or weeks of your time to do, something we normally don’t have, but currently find ourselves with – so use it fully to prepare.

It is also important to keep up to date on the latest news regarding how the market will run once lockdown is lifted.  Government officials and property Industry representatives met via zoom conference last week and more meetings are planned this week between the Housing Minister Christopher Pincher and Estate Agency representatives to discuss how to revive housing sales and the social distancing measures that will be put in place to facilitate this.

Getting  the most from your biggest asset has never been more important, If you have any questions on how to prepare for your future sale, Talk to Tollers conveyancing teams on 01604 258558 or email them at enquiries@tollers.co.uk and they will be happy to assist.

 

While Government guidelines remain in place providing that physically moving house is not recommended during the current lockdown period, notwithstanding it remains perfectly possible to remortgage your property.

Applications:

Direct applications to lenders are mostly made on line and mortgage brokers are also taking clients instructions by email or on line.   If you are able to upload ID pay slips and P60 forms this will help the process.  Unless you are looking to borrow a high percentage loan to value, the lenders rarely insist on a physical valuation of the property.

As a consequence of the crisis, some lenders have moved to cap the loan to value at a lower rate than previously with 60% now seeming to be point at which most lenders would require a valuer to actually visit a property, which clearly cannot happen at present

As a Firm we are finding that currently a large proportion of lenders are not taking any calls, but are replying to letters and emails, although with a degree of delay. The majority of lenders will email out their offers, but posting should offer no real difficulty.

The approval process might take a little longer than normal, so it’s worth bearing that in mind. Also the notice period lenders usually require to order the mortgage funds has increased from a week to sometimes two weeks. If searches are required, whilst some councils are fully open others are closed or offering a reduced service so delays may be experienced here.

Signing Documentation:

You will need to sign a mortgage deed in front of a witness, which can be challenging as you are not usually permitted to have a member of your family be a witness to your signature, and you must comply with social distancing rules.  One example of a solution to this that we have experienced is where the borrower calls their neighbour, signs the deed in front of the neighbour as a witness, usually through the window, before posting the deed through the neighbour’s door for them to sign and witness and return in a similar fashion.

Some (but not all) lenders offer legal services as part of the remortgage process.  Where they do not or in the event that you do not wish to use the lender’s legal service, Tollers can assist in dealing with your remortgage.  We are committed to continuing our high standards of client service during the lockdown period and have adapted our working practices to ensure that we can assist whilst also following the government’s current Covid-19 guidelines.  We work with you to ensure we communicate in a way that works for you, we are happy to talk on the telephone and also through email and post if necessary.

If you are looking to remortgage at this time…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 and our small office based team will ensure the right person gets in touch to provide you with a no obligation quote for your remortgage and can assist with all your property needs.

For more information on the services our conveyancing teams provide click here: https://www.tollers.co.uk/conveyancing-solicitors/

It will come as no surprise to anyone that the situation we find ourselves in nationally due to the Coronavirus is affecting the way we, as a profession, are now having to deal with Equity Release transactions.

The normal procedure is that we would expect to see our clients face to face to go through the terms of the loan and the impact it could have on the client both at that time and in the future. This is so we can ensure that the client is fully aware of what it is they are entering into and that there is no undue influence or duress being exerted on them in any way.

Given that the majority of our equity release clients are potentially considered to be in the high risk category, there has been some difficulty for law firms to arrange to have the required face to face meetings.

The Equity Release Council has now been prevailed upon to relax the requirements with regard to face to face meetings, which now means are now able to give the necessary advice in writing, over the telephone or via electronic meetings, such as Zoom or Skype. They have, however, specified that the telephone call must be able to be heard by all the parties to the mortgage. Unfortunately, this is only for the period of time that the Nation is in lockdown.

As a firm, Tollers, have always sent our reports to our clients in writing and then arranged to meet them in person to ensure that our clients have been made fully aware of the risks they are taking. Adapting to the changes we are now beginning to work with our clients over the telephone and via electronic mediums as well.

With Equity Release Loans, the Solicitor and the client must sign something known as a Solicitor’s Certificate to confirm that we have provided the necessary advice to them. The Certificate has now been altered solely for the Covid-19 lockdown period and includes a statement from the client that they have not had a face to face meeting with their solicitor.

The only issue which we are finding with this new procedure is that the Mortgage Deed still requires an independent witness and we are not able to witness signatures via electronic means; the question then becomes how does a client, who is in self-isolation, find an independent witness when everyone is supposed to be in lockdown? This is the question we are being asked and we are ensuring that we keep up-to-date with the latest news regarding this, in order that we can facilitate our clients. We will provide further updates on this as we receive them.

If you are looking to realise equity from your home at this time and require advice or would like clarification.   Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 and our specialist conveyancing solicitors will be happy to guide you through the process. For more information on our services visit: https://www.tollers.co.uk/conveyancing-solicitors/

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