What is Life The Basic Manual?

Life The Basic Manual is a platform where people who are expert by experience can share their knowledge. With over 45 years of experience in Town and City Centre living, Lawrence provides advice on various areas of the Real Estate world.

Buying Your First Property

Buying your first property can seem like a daunting task, but Lawrence helps us to think about it in a series of logical steps.

Firstly, what financial resources do you have? The amount you have to spend will be a critical determinant in what property you can expect to end up with. Lawrence suggests you inventory what you think you can afford, and then seek advice from an independent financial advisor. An independent financial advisor can offer impartial advice on what you are likely to get in terms of mortgage offers. They can also help you find out your credit rating and credit history.

Another factor to consider is that you are likely to need a deposit of at least 10% of the asking price of whatever property you are making an offer on. Buyers often forget to factor in the legal costs, such as solicitors fees, when it comes to buying a property, but it's worth considering every relevant cost, such as surveyor’s fees, stamp duty, removals etc. A good and informed estate agent can help you find your way through this maze of choices and decisions, and Lawrence is a good example of an estate agent who will make time to talk you through some of your options.

Using an Estate Agent to buy property

Ever wondered how using an estate agent can assist you when buying property?

Lawrence Copeland has been in the business for thirty-eight years, and this is him insider take on that question. He has witnessed the property market fall and rise again many times. His experience is extensive, and when as a buyer you use a properly qualified estate agent who knows their area, that’s what you are getting.

Because for most of us, property buying is a big, intermittent purchase, we don't gain the crucial skills of comparative knowledge, or of the intricacies of the processes involved.

This is where the services of a trained professional can save us time and money in the search for, and purchase of, the right property.

Lawrence encourages prospective buyers to come and talk to him, and get the inside track on how to buy the right property, in the right place - at the right time.

Where do you want to live?

This stage is pretty dependent on you, as buyers, to ask yourself the question - where do you want to live?

Lawrence suggests that this is a good time to think through your priorities. Is it a priority to have a short commute? Do the local schools factor into the equation?

Each buyer has a unique set of wants and needs, some of which may be mutually exclusive. For instance, you may want a hip inner city location, but you may not have the right resources here for your family.

Deciding where you want to buy takes effort and searching on your part. Using the biggest portal in the UK for property searches, Rightmove may help you see what is available to you in your spending range.

Lawrence suggests that the basic principle of ‘keeping it simple’ can help. If you are clear on your priorities, you can avoid too much time spent unnecessarily trawling through confusing suburb after suburb.

Getting to view the right property

One of the most useful actions you can take is to get to know local estate agents in the area you’re hoping to buy in, preferably by recommendation.

If you’ve found a local estate agent you have begun a dialogue with, remember to register with the national portals such as Rightmove for notifications of upcoming properties. But factor in that in a fast-moving market, those notifications may not arrive fast enough for you to act in time to get to see a property before it’s snapped up. This is where your relationships with local estate agents may come into its own.

At the point of actual viewing, there are definitely some considerations to hold in your mind, and questions to ask. What kind of chain is involved in the sale? Is there a sitting tenant? Are disruptive builds due close to the property?
Above all, how do you feel about the property? Sometimes places that tick all the boxes can still not feel right to the potential buyer. Try and consult your head and heart in your decisions.

What to ask when viewing a property

Continuing his playlist designed to help first-time buyers navigate the maze of property buying, Lawrence Copeland, a chartered surveyor and estate agent with thirty-eight years experience in the profession, gives us some insider information on what to ask when viewing a property.

At the point of viewing, you have a useful window of opportunity to quiz the person showing the property on a number of factors you need to consider. What council tax band is the property in? Is there a ground rent payable? What are the average utility bills? Is there a Service Charge? Is the property Leasehold or Freehold? If Leasehold, how long is the lease and how many years remain?

This is also a good moment to get a sense of why the vendor is selling if you can. Are they in a rush to sell? Is the market itself over or under supplied? In a fast market, you may well have to buy at the stated price (or more), in a slower market, you have a better chance of negotiating the price downward.

What's Included In The Property Price?

An Expert Offers Guidance On Getting The Best Deal

Lawrence Copeland, a chartered surveyor and estate agent with over thirty-eight years of experience in the field of property sales, continues his playlist for first-time buyers. In this video, he looks at the importance of finding out what’s included in the sale price when you are buying a house or a flat.

Buyers often fall into the trap of assuming that items such as curtains or freestanding white goods will be what they find when they walk into their new home. But as a rule, it is only integrated items that are a part of the sale price.

This makes it all the more important that buyers ask about what exactly the price covers. The expensive of furnishing your first home can be daunting, and there is often a useful deal to be done with the vendor in terms of white goods and furniture. But if you don't ask, you don’t get.

And certainly, if you rely on unverified assumptions about what the price includes, you may find yourself disappointed.

How To Make An Offer On A Property

Many first-time buyers find this process daunting however much of the effort actually lies in having done the right footwork, as outlined earlier in this playlist. This includes having prepared adequate proof of your ability to buy. If you’ve visited an independent financial advisor, you will have a good idea of what you can afford to buy. Hopefully you will have backed that up a mortgage certificate that means you have a mortgage agreed in principle.

You’ll need bank statements to, and above all, you’ll need to have funds for your deposit, which is often around ten percent of the total asking price.

With all that in place, you can make your offer by phone or email to the estate agent dealing with the property. You will need to take a view on what you want included in the price, and Lawrence discusses some of the different ways you might go about this.

Often, offers are pitched below the actual asking price as a tester of what the seller will actually accept. It may be that your initial offer is refused, giving you the chance to ask the seller what they are looking for, or are prepared to compromise to the tune of. This will inform your potential counter-offer.

Making Your Mortgage Application

Lawrence Copeland, a chartered surveyor and estate agent with over thirty-eight years of experience in the field of property sales, continues his playlist for first-time buyers. In this video, he guides you through how to make a mortgage application

If, like most first-time buyers, you are financing your purchase with a potential mortgage, then now is the time that you need to revisit an independent financial advisor, and fill in a mortgage application. This will require giving detailed information on the property in question, and may have specific questions about its history, such as its age, and whether or not it has ever been underpinned. There may be fees to pay at this point re. the application process.

Once your independent financial advisor has submitted the application to your potential lender, the lender will probably have more checks of their own, such as credit references etc.

Once that’s done, a surveyor will be instructed to carry out a survey to determine the property’s potential worth, and any issues that it may present.

Property Valuation and Survey

Lawrence has guided us through the entire journey, using his knowledge and wisdom to demystify this often difficult and intimidating process. From helping us to clarify where we want to live, and how much we can afford to pay, to the nitty gritty of offer and counter offer, he’s been with us all the way.

In this clip, he outlines what kinds of survey you are likely to need, and what kinds of valuation your lender will probably demand.

There are three fundamental categories to this. The information in the first type of survey will probably stay largely with your lender, other than the headline of the price tag.

The second type of survey, a general homebuyers report (average price at the time of writing £350 - £400) should give you a good insight into the basics of the property you’re looking at. Lawrence feels this level of scrutiny is appropriate for new builds.

The third, and most expensive option is a more extensive and detailed survey of the property, that will give you a picture of its structural integrity in a more in-depth way. The prices on this kind of survey vary widely, from a few hundred pounds up to a thousand.

Solicitor's Role in Purchasing A Property

This piece describes what happens after your offer has been accepted, and focusses on the role your solicitor plays at this point. Many purchasers are unclear on this, and Lawrence takes us through the detail of what your solicitor, and the vendor’s solicitor, need to undertake to move the sale toward a successful completion.

Lawrence describes the various pieces of information and paperwork your solicitor and that of the vendor will need to share, and includes a description of what will be required for the mortgage company.

How Long Will It Take To Complete My Property Purchase?

Lawrence takes us through a number of variables that can affect how long this can take. If you are a cash buyer, and no chain is involved, you are in the best position to move through the purchase as swiftly as possible. But even from that perspective, there are still i’s to be dotted, and t’s to be crossed.

If you are buying with a mortgage, from the point of having your offer accepted, you can probably expect the rest of the process to take between six and eight weeks. During this time, your solicitor and that of the vendor will be doing their work behind the scenes, and your mortgage company will want to have sight of all relevant information. You can speed things up by making sure that the references they need to receive from you are all in hand.

The exchange of contracts is a significant milestone in any sale, and is a legally binding contract. If you are buying with mortgage, you will need to ensure your funds are in place, a deposit can drawn down. The size of the deposit will vary, but it is often ten percent.

Completion usually takes place three to four working days after the exchange of contracts, and that’s when the point at which you have legal ownership of the property.

Getting The Survey Results

Having taken us through the process of buying a property, step by step, chartered surveyor and estate agent Lawrence Copeland describes what tends to happen when you receive the results of the surveyor’s report.

If you have commissioned the first level of report, you will learn little beyond whether or not the surveyor thinks the valuation of the property is accurate, and any major structural issues that have been evident to them.

If you are buying a modern apartment, this may be a straightforward process, but if for instance you are buying a house built decades ago, you may encounter more issues.

But if you’ve commissioned the middle-level report, the homebuyers option, the report should offer a more in-depth guide to potential issues. At this stage, the surveyor will have looked round the property, but will not have undertaken detailed inspections of its electrical system, damp proof course etc. If they feel there may be an issue with these areas, they will suggest you commission further reports to ascertain the extent of any potential problems from specialists in those areas. Your estate agent should be able to suggest suitable people to carry these out.

If you are working with a good estate agent, they should be able to help you navigate your way through issues uncovered by your survey.

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