Helping You Through the House Buying Minefield
by Raminder Uberoi — Posted on 29 July, 2016
We were very pleased to be featured in the Ealing Gazette looking at some of the things you need to be aware of when buying a house.
Helping you through the house buying minefield
Buying and selling a house can be a complicated process but do not fear, Raminder Uberoi from Starck Uberoi LLP solicitors and advocates is here to answer some of your questions.
Q: I have recently put in an offer on a property which was accepted by which was then sold to someone who made a higher bid. Is this lawful?
A: Yes, any property transaction is subject to contract and what has happened here is known as gazumping. Under English Law, a buyer/seller is allowed to withdraw at any point prior to exchange of contracts. However, once a contract is signed, it is binding on all parties to that contract.
Q: What is the Help to Buy scheme?
A: The Help to Buy scheme is a Government-backed initiative which assists first time buyers and existing home owners to purchase a home. There are two options under this scheme, the Mortgage Guarantee and Equity Loan. The Mortgage Guarantee is available to both first time buyers and existing home movers on newly built or existing properties worth up to £600,00. This scheme allows for the purchase of a property with a deposit of only 5% of the purchase price. You should be aware that you cannot use this scheme to buy a second property nor rent the property out after purchase.
Q: What does it mean when I have a leasehold property?
A: A leaseholder has a lease for a fixed number of years, enjoying the same rights and privileges of a landlord but only for the number of years specified in the lease. After this period the property will theoretically return to the landlord. Having too few years on a lease could cause problems such as difficulty getting a mortgage and may raise the price of extending it.
Q: Can I extend the lease on my flat and when shall I do this?
A: The Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 gives leaseholders the statutory right to extend their lease subject to them owning the property for more than two years and with at least 21 years left remaining on the lease. Any prudent lessee should consider extending before the lease reaches 80 years unexpired.
The financial implication of not doing so is that the home owner has to pay the freeholder 50% of the increase in the lease’s value that results from the lease extension. This uplift in the lease’s value as a result of the extension is called the ‘marriage value’.
Q: We are a non-married couple and are thinking of buying a property together, how can we protect the money each invests in the property?
A: When two people purchase a property together they can do this as either Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common. As Joint Tenants one does not have a distinct portion of the property and the property is treated as if it is shared equity amongst both purchasers allowing for a ‘right of survivorship’.
If instead the property was purchased by Tenants in Common the shares for each person’s investment can specify a percentage of the property value and protects each individual’s shares. This safeguards the initial investments of each party and as such minimises a disproportionate division of the property if and when the property is transferred to another.
Tenants in Common are also free to dispose of their shares in any manner they see fit. It allows for an individual freely to transfer their share or leave it under a Will.
Q: What is Stamp Duty?
A: Stamp Duty is the abbreviation of Stamp Duty Land Tax, or SDLT, and is a type of tax which one pays when buying land and property. The value of this is calculated as a percentage of the purchase price of the property.
Starck Uberoi LLP
45 St Mary’s Road
If you are thinking of buying a property feel free to call us on 020 8840 6640, we would be happy to answer your questions. We are based in Ealing, our office is located 10 minutes from Ealing Broadway Station.