Top tips for buying a property after lockdown
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Thinking about moving? Hayley Lalsing, a senior associate at Charles Russell Speechlys, offers her advice.
One thing that lockdown has not seemed to hinder is the UK property market. House prices in April 2021 rose at the fastest rate since 2004, and the boom does not seem ready to subside just yet. A combination of the extension to the stamp duty (SDLT) holiday, greater demand, a lower supply of available properties and the low cost of borrowing have contributed to the buoyant market.
For most people, this is a time of excitement and new beginnings, but the process can be complex and competitive and so it is a good idea to take certain steps at an early stage to give yourself a head start on the buying process:
1. Do your research – with restrictions in place and physical viewings limited, research is key. Pay attention to pertinent details on estate agents’ websites and particulars. Perhaps take a walk around the area (at different times of the day) to ensure there is nothing that might deter you. Make a list of any questions you have so that you can raise these well in advance of committing yourself to a purchase.
2. Organise your finances – it is a good idea to get in touch with a mortgage broker or lender to obtain a ‘decision in principle’ so that you know what you are able to borrow and, therefore, what you can afford to buy. Don’t forget to include Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), legal and surveyor costs, as well as search fees and Land Registry fees when budgeting.
3. Line up your advisors – it is always a good idea to appoint your professional team (including your lawyers, surveyor and mortgage broker/lender) at an early stage so that you are able to act quickly, giving you an advantage over other buyers.
4. Plan ahead – with the extended stamp duty holiday coming to an end on June 30, 2021 (on the first £500,000 of a purchase), and then tapering off until September 30 (with no stamp duty payable on the first £250,000), ensure that you get organised so that you can maximise your savings. It is also a good idea to review your personal circumstances with your tax advisors to make the most of any exemptions or reliefs that might be available to you.
5. Book your removal companies – make enquiries and obtain quotes early. Removal companies will be incredibly busy at this time. They may sometimes offer to ‘pencil you in’, formalising the booking once contracts have been exchanged.
Buying a property is a challenging process, particularly in a high demand post-lockdown market, but taking the steps detailed above at an early stage will ensure that you are well organised and prepared for the transaction ahead.
Hayley Lalsing, Senior Associate, T: +44 (0)1483 252 536 Hayley.Lalsing@crsblaw.com
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