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Possible problems and pitfalls when moving house

The home buying process may initially seem complicated but each step is there for a reason and working with an experienced estate agent, mortgage broker and solicitor should help to minimise any major problems. As there can be a number of people involved, a lot of money exchanging hands and multiple documents that require sourcing and checking, delays can occur. However, a little preparation can help you keep these to a minimum.

The key common issues that can arise can be grouped as follows:

People: seller and other buyers

Even if you have met the seller and have a good relationship with them, they can still change their mind without notice. They may suddenly decide not to sell, or your offer may be gazumped by a higher bid from another interested buyer.

Buying a property can be very emotional, but you cannot force the seller into a decision. Likewise, you may not want to enter a bidding war.

Professionals: estate agent and solicitors

Taking care from the beginning to choose an experienced and recommended property solicitor can help avoid any problems further down the line. You should make sure that your decision is not just made on price, but also on how well you feel you will be able to work with them.

The estate agent you are working with when buying a property will have been chosen by the seller, and will be working on the seller’s behalf. Courtesy and professionalism will help to keep the process running smoothly. If you are beginning to feel pressurised, then let your solicitor know.

In extreme cases, where you feel you have a genuine complaint to make against your solicitor or the estate agent, you can raise it with the relevant ombudsman.

Finance: the lender’s valuation is less than the price agreed

If, after a lender’s valuation, the property is deemed to be worth less than you are intending to pay for it, the lender may decide not to lend you the money you have asked for. In such a circumstance, the first thing you should do is to talk to the seller’s estate agent, and try to negotiate a lower price.

If your revised offer is rejected and you still want to buy the property at the agreed price, you will either have to come up with the extra money as part of the deposit or you may need to find a different lender. However, any new mortgage provider may agree with the initial lender’s valuation and the same outcome could reoccur. You then need to decide whether you want to proceed with the purchase.

Finance: delays getting the mortgage

Following the Mortgage Market Review in April 2014, one of the biggest issues facing buyers is that they are not made fully aware of their responsibilities when applying for a mortgage. Buyers need to be prepared for what they must provide to a lender well in advance of the application. It is necessary for buyers to evidence their income, their expenditure and their affordability; both now and in the future. They should speak to a mortgage and protection adviser to fully understand what is required so they have time to collate all the necessary documentation and avoid unnecessary delays. They can then establish how much they can borrow, what all the costs are likely to be, including Stamp Duty and how much it will cost them on a monthly basis.

Process: lengthy chains

When you are buying from a seller – who themselves is also buying a new property – and you are also trying to sell your existing home, it is easy to see how the chain can become complicated. In lengthy chains, a sale several links up or down the chain may need to be finalised before everything else can begin to fall into place.

Sometimes, a seller within the chain may move into temporary accommodation so their buyer can proceed with their purchase. Sometimes, a buyer in the chain may take out a bridging loan so they can buy their new property before selling their current one.

These solutions are not always feasible and chains can sometimes reach an impasse, resulting in the whole process needing to begin afresh.

Process: contract races

If the seller wants to sell their property quickly and has received multiple offers, they are within their rights to accept more than one and initiate a contract race.

The seller’s estate agent will inform you and the other bidders that this is the case, and the race to get a contract written up begins. The first suitable contract to be prepared will be that of the successful buyer.

If you do not want to be involved in a contract race, which may be stressful and incur extra costs, then your bid can be withdrawn.

Property: new home is left in an unsatisfactory state

In your contract with the seller, any furnishings and fittings that are being left behind will have been specified with the solicitors. If these are not present when you move in or the previous owner has left other items, it is their responsibility to put this right and meet the terms of the contract. If they ignore your requests to remove any unwanted clutter, you may have to pay for the removal out of your own pocket and try to reclaim the costs through your solicitor.

The seller is under no obligation to clean the property before you move in. Ideally you will get the keys to the property a few days before you move in so you can arrange for your new home to be cleaned and, if desired, decorated.

Property: the property has been damaged

As a buyer, you should have property insurance in place from the day the contracts are exchanged, which is likely to be before you move in. From this date onwards, the seller should alert you to any damage that occurs, and claims will need to be made on your policy.

Property: survey issues

Some buyers opt for a more detailed survey such as a homebuyers’ report or a building survey. These surveys can identify other issues with the property that may not have been picked up during viewings or even from a mortgage valuation. If the issue is significant enough to affect the value of the property then this will be identified in the report.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments to your mortgage.

We do not charge for our advice. Instead, we simply charge a fee for arranging your mortgage of up to 0.5% of the mortgage amount. A typical fee is £499.

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