Choosing your property

To find suitable properties (especially when a first-time buyer) it’s a good idea to look around several properties and get a feel for the market before you buy.

New Properties (Things to keep in mind)

New properties are very popular but often sell at a premium price. After a few years the price (on the assumption that the property market has remained unchanged) of a new property moves in line with the local property market. Before you buy a new property your conveyancer will need to check that the property:

  • Has proper planning permission and is correctly built on its allocated plot. It is also important to make sure the approved plans/layout haven’t been subsequently altered;
  • Hasn’t been built on contaminated or filled land – or if it has you have valid certificates to ensure the land has been properly treated. This is crucial for building insurance;
  • Has proper guarantees, such as NHBC, Buildmark, or similar certificates.
  • Has test certificates and user guides for any electrical, gas or built-in appliances;
  • Has the final certificate from the Local Authority building inspector;
  • Has confirmation of the property’s energy efficiency rating and that it matches the provisional SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) rating

We also advise that you check the conditions of the Help to Buy (Wales) Scheme, which is a shared equity loan to buyers of new-build homes. For further information, please visit https://beta.gov.wales/help-buy-wales.

Please be advised that this is a beta page (test page) and may be subject to change.

Please be advised that if you purchase a property through Help to Buy Wales and subsequently plan to sell your home, you must also obtain a market value of the property by instructing an independent valuer who is a qualified member of RICS.

For further information please contact our survey department on 01792 479 860

Older Properties (Those That Need Work)

If you want to buy an older property we strongly advise that you have a Building Survey carried out first. A cost-effective alternative, where appropriate, is also an RICS HomeBuyers Report. For further information, please contact our survey department on 01792 479 860.

When you buy an older property for renovation, you will need to check building regulations carefully. Some major building repairs may also need permission from your Local Authority Building Regulations Department.

Before you buy a property to renovate, work out the total costs of repairs on top of the initial outlay and also look at the cost of funding such a project if your refurbishment project is subject to additional borrowing. It is also important to include additional contingency costs, such as potential delays in renovation.

Always research your appointed contractor and take into consideration the time of year you intend on renovating, especially if there are any external works needed. You don’t want to be sitting on an asset that you cannot repair due to adverse weather conditions, bearing in mind we are located in Wales and the weather never follows the seasons anymore!

After this, you should then decide on whether the property is still worth renovating. Bear in mind that the cost of repairs and improvements are not always cost-effective in terms of increasing the value of the property.

Types of ownership

There are many types of ownership, otherwise known as ‘tenure’ but in this instance, we are concentrating on the two tenures that are more regularly acquired.

“Bear in mind the cost of repairs and improvements are not always cost-effective in terms of increasing the value of the property.”

Freehold

If you buy a property Freehold, it means you have full ownership of the property until you decide to sell.

In most instances, your property is likely to be subject to a charge, which is common when your purchase is conditional upon acquiring a loan from a specific lender. This means that the lender will also need to be notified of any potential changes to the type of ownership before it is instigated i.e. the sale of your home or a change of occupation to a buy-to-let, etc.

In some instances, they may have a right to withhold consent so we advise that you always thoroughly check the conditions of your mortgage offer before you enter into your purchase.

Leasehold

If you buy a Leasehold property, it means you have part ownership and the right to live there for a fixed time only, usually, the balance of either 99 or 125 years (in some instances 999 years) although leases may have already been extended.

Leasehold properties are generally flats and maisonettes, however, the incidence of Leasehold houses is increasing. The Landlord still owns the Freehold of the building but doesn’t have access to your property, unless they have undertaken the correct procedures.

The value of a lease decreases with time, but you can usually extend your lease or buy a new one. The price to renew a Lease will however increase as the remaining term (no. of years left) decreases, which can be costly if you do not receive the correct advice.

You will also probably have to pay ground rent or a higher ground rent. Therefore it is important to receive financial advice before you purchase a Leasehold property as many banks/ building societies may have restrictions on granting mortgages where the remaining lease term low i.e. fewer than 70 years and in some instances fewer than 85 years.

Before you buy a leasehold property, get your legal advisor to check the following.

  • Is the Lease subject to a Ground Rent and is it subject to a review (potential increase);
  • Is the lease subject to any service charge and how much is this (More common in flats and usually to cover the cost of repairs to common areas);
  • If a management company is responsible for collecting payment;
  • Whether building maintenance is managed by the Freeholder;
  • Any known planned future costs, such as re-roofing, new heating systems or re-cladding, etc.;
  • Who is responsible for buildings insurance;
  • Who has responsibility for repairs and, in the instance of a Leasehold flat, whether the block is ‘owned’ collectively (also known as share of Freehold or Commonhold) or by a separate person or company;
  • If there are any onerous lease conditions which may increase costs and impact on the future saleability or impair the mortgage.

You also have the right to purchase the Freehold interest of your residential property (commonly known as a Freehold Reversion) if you meet certain qualifying criteria, which is subject to legislation – Leasehold Reform Act 1967. Astleys have specialist surveyors that can assist you in the purchase of your Freehold Reversion. For further information please contact our survey department on 017892 479 860.

Astleys have specialist surveyors that can assist you in the purchase of your Freehold Reversion.

For further information please contact our survey department on 017892 479 860.

Agreeing a sale

The majority of offers and negotiations are normally conducted through the estate agent. Negotiation on the price of the property is often easier if there are repairs to be done. However, if the estate agent has advised correctly, the proposed asking price should be reflected in the anticipated works to be undertaken.

Things to Consider

Remember to always check what is included in the price before agreeing a sale.

Ask about any works recently undertaken or any guarantees that are relevant to existing appliances, etc. Although this is something that your solicitor will check, it is important to try and obtain this information beforehand as it could change your opinion of the anticipated purchase price and you don’t want that awkward conversation with the agent or the seller in an attempt to renegotiate the agreed price.

Check to make sure the property has a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and check the Energy Efficiency Rating, especially if you are a buy-to-let purchaser. It is unlawful to rent a commercial or residential property that has a rating poorer than E i.e. F or G and this will impact on the value of your investment, if there are additional improvements works to be undertaken prior to renting.

Once you are satisfied put an offer in writing to confirm the detail but bear in mind that this will still be subject to a formal exchange of contracts, drawn up by the solicitor.

Once you have chosen a property you will have to consider the following:

  • Financing Your Property Purchase
  • Arranging a Survey
  • Instructing Your Solicitor/ Conveyancer

We are of the opinion that all three should have been considered before an offer was submitted and our staff are always at hand to help you choose the relevant advisors/professionals to ensure your potential sale moves forward.

Finance/moving costs

Based on your income your mortgage broker can help you work out how much you can afford to spend on a property and the minimum deposit you will need.

Most lenders will give you what is known as an ‘Agreement in Principle (AIP)’ or the amount they are prepared to lend. Estate agents and sellers tend to look more favourably on prospective purchasers that already have an AIP when making an offer as it demonstrates you are a serious buyer and have an idea about your affordability.

Typical Moving Costs

  • Mortgage Repayments and Lender Charges
  • Building Survey, HomeBuyer Report, or Conditional Survey.
  • Solicitor/ conveyancing fees (including searches, Land Registry, and Stamp Duty arrangement fees)
  • Stamp Duty Charges
  • Removal Costs
  • Possible Reconnection Costs i.e. for phone, electric, gas, etc.
  • Re-directing Post

Monthly Costs

  • Mortgage Payments
  • Buildings and Contents Insurance
  • Council Tax
  • Water Rates
  • Electricity and Gas
  • Phone & Internet
  • Ongoing Repairs & Decoration Costs
  • Life Cover/ Critical Illness – usually not thought of but it is important that you have cover in the unfortunate event should either you or your spouse be unable to continue payments.

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