Like most things in life you can try and understand the whole process yourself or you can rely on help from others. In truth we tend to do a bit of both, but the real issues are won or lost on the accuracy of the information that we rely on. The main services that you will have to deal with are as follows;
1. Estate Agents
5. Other Sellers/ Buyers
Points to consider.
1. Estate Agents: “who do they work for…”
Paid to be friendly and helpful but you must consider who they really work for, you or the seller? Paid by commission on the value you offer, the higher the offer the more they make. What makes the price increase? Pitching one buyer off against another; setting closing dates; the use of enthusiastic buyers vs some buyers who may not even put an offer in. One fact is true the more you openly love the property, the more you let the estate agent know what your budget is and the more you will therefore pay. Always remember that thousands of pounds will be saved or overpaid dependent on the nature of your relationship with the sellers estate agent. That’s right, its the sellers agent NOT yours. Also remember that they do this on a daily basis you don’t. We always advise that you avoid doing the negotiations yourself but leave this to your representatives, your lawyers. They will no doubt do this on a daily basis. The fact remains that the use of an EXPERT property lawyer at this stage can save you thousands of pounds and in a way pay for your legal costs.
2. Lawyers: “…what do I need a lawyer for?”
Appointing a solicitor is never easy as you have a huge variety to choose from. What should I look for? This is where we may seem controversial, yet ask yourself what do I need a lawyer for, what is the real purpose? Your lawyer is there to do more that give you cheap fee. They are there to ensure that when you spend epic money you are protected and your investment is ‘as safe as houses’. Like any other good professional, some are more focused in a particular area. Some are keener to ask the difficult questions, some will negotiate with a sharper focus from day one. Again remember saving a few thousand pounds at negotiation stage far outstrips any legal fee. Asking the right questions in this buyer beware process can save you thousands of pounds when you come to sell. Our advice is spend less time questioning the fee and consider asking questions about the service, the help and the proven track record. Who will look after your investment best? More is at stake than a saving of a few pounds.
3. Surveyors : “…look beyond the paper report.”
Like most contracts you enter there are caveats. Sometimes its not very clear who the surveyor is really working for, consider the commercial loyalties. Were they appointed by you? Were they appointed by your bank, the seller, Estate Agent (who acts for the seller) or your financial adviser. Did you pay them direct or through another (added to your financial product). Independent professional advice is a must when buying. Always remember that there are huge commercial pressures at play here and it wouldn’t be the first time things are missed. To keep you straight you must always deal direct with the surveyor or for that matter any other party. When checking the property do more than a cursory glance, look for signs of damp, water damage, cracks, ask about alterations and then challenge your surveyor about his findings, look beyond the paper report. Call the surveyor!
4. Banks : “…never assume things are in progress…”
We all have heard the stories about how hard it is to get funding to buy a property. In this regard we always advise clients to stay on top of the lending process NEVER assume that things are in progress. The banks will obtain reports , deeds, documents, ask your lawyer to report on matters and they may even appoint their own surveyor or lawyers. So always take it that until you have your loan paper in your or your lawyers hands that is not agreed. To aid the progress return all the documents and deeds as fast a possible and ALWAYS call to ensure that they have them. Again never assume that things are in hand. Its now about outsourced mail rooms, changing teams, 48hr scanning and call centers. Long gone are the days of dealing with your local branch. In may cases your own branch or financial adviser has not power to give you accurate advice once the process starts. Unfortunately computers were meant to streamline services but in this case they may not have. Our advice is keep pushing and checking (in a friendly way) , never assume that things are progressing and keep your lawyer up to date about the progress.
5. Other Buyers / Sellers : “…your lawyer should always be independent…”
Its unavoidable, you will come across other people trying to buy the same house as you and for that matter other people trying to get as much for their property. Always remember to keep your ‘cards close’. Remember that your lawyers can always do the hard negotiations to help diffuse any awkward face to face conflicts. Its easy to avoid the pointed questions by having to ‘think about things’. Its nice to be helpful but always remember that everyone has their own motives and your success at getting your ideal property for a good price tends not to be one others will promote. Contact your lawyers before even going to view your first property or talking to an estate agent. Unfortunately many people will have a chat with an estate agent to start with, worse still they may even use the Lawyer that the estate agent points them towards! A good lawyer is your best ally, your lawyer should always be independent from others and you should always have a chat with them BEFORE YOU START.
So Remember the 5 KEY FACTS
1. Always deal direct with those you rely on.
2. Never appoint on the basis of price alone.
3. The Estate Agent works for the other side.
4. Keep negotiation pleasant even if you are getting upset.
5. Talk with your lawyer before you speak with any estate agent.
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