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Stamp Duty rush causing mental health issues for conveyancers

Mental health

Solicitors’ leaders say members of their industry are suffering mental health problems as a result of the workload to meet the March 31 stamp duty deadline.

They are also urging house movers to have realistic expectations about whether they will or will not complete their transactions ahead of the looming deadline.

“Solicitors are working under pressure around the clock to help their clients move both in time for Christmas and ahead of the SDLT deadline” says Law Society of England president David Greene.

He insists solicitors are struggling to cope with the large volume of emails and telephone calls from clients and estate agents all of whom are understandably anxious to know the current position “but the time spent dealing with such enquiries prevents solicitors from progressing matters.”

Greene says the Law Society has lobbied the government twice on this issue in recent months, urging some kind of extension to cope with the workload.

“The next few weeks are going to be very busy with people wanting to complete their desired move before Christmas and our members know an even busier and more stressful time awaits them up to the end of March.

“Consumers must recognise that it is increasingly unlikely that if they sell or buy their house now, that they will complete by the March 31 deadline. The solicitor is often the last link in the move, and it is only when the solicitor has all the pieces, which they are dependent on obtaining from others, that buyers and sellers can move.”

Greene says the conveyancers are limited in their ability to act by the information they get from other sources, also under pressure – delays in the issuing of search results, delays in mortgage offers being issued, problems in the chain and with dependent transactions.

He adds that these are usually outside the control of the conveyancer.

“It is important that law firms prepare in advance for the avalanche of work that conveyancers are likely to face as the deadline approaches” urges Greene.

“Firms should manage the expectations of new clients hoping to move before the SDLT holiday ends and support must also be provided to solicitors whose mental health is under strain as they work long, unsociable hours.”

Original Article from Estate Agent Today 14/12/2020

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8 Essential Tips That Can Help You Sell Your Home in Chelmsford

Keen to sell your home in Chelmsford as quickly as possible? Worried that your Chelmsford property is still on the market? 

Although finding the right estate agent is a crucial part of getting your property sold, there are a few things you can do yourselves to help move the process along. Try these tips and it won’t be long before you have a few good offers pouring in and you can enjoy the search for your next new home! 

Read on for our eight essential tips to help you get your property off the market, quicker: 

1.Declutter 

Let’s start with the simplest (albeit slightly tedious) thing you can do to help stage your home for viewings. It’s time for a deep decluttering session! 

We’re not clutter-shaming. Getting rid of all the clutter allows interested buyers to see the full potential of the space during viewings. And not only will it make your property look more spacious, but it’ll also mean that your eventual packing becomes much easier. Bonus. 

2.Put some of your personal items away 

Although you don’t want your home not to look like a home, you also don’t want it to look too much like your home. You want potential buyers to walk in and be able to easily picture themselves living there. Removing family photos and more personal items can help make that possible. Viewers will be able to walk around and envision themselves and their own families living there.

3.Invest in professional property photography

As much as you may fancy yourself as a good iPhone photographer, now’s the time to turn to an expert. Trust us, a professional photoshoot will go a long way in helping your online property listings get a lot more interest. Many good estate agents are affiliated with a skilled property photographer and can offer this service. They’ll light up your home to make sure it’s showcased in the most visually appealing way. No filters necessary.

4.Ask your estate agent to create a video tour

While excellent photos are a ‘must have’ for property listings, few listings up until very recently also have a property video tour. These video tours can really help bring a property to life and are likely to capture more engaged leads. 

Ask your estate agent whether they offer this service to help your online listing stand out. If they don’t, see if you can find a professional videographer who’d be happy to create a short video of your property for a small budget. We wouldn’t recommend creating this yourself – but you should definitely share it on social media once created! 

5.‘Neutralise’ your furnishings

Another way to make it easier for viewers to picture themselves in your home is to create a more neutral setting. Turn to more muted colours for things such as your bedding and curtains. Remember, loud colours and bold prints may not necessarily be to everyone’s taste. 

An easy way to give your home more mass appeal is to strip any wallpaper and give it a fresh lick of neutrally coloured paint. Opt for lighter colours to reflect light and make your home look more spacious. 

6.Add some homely touches 

We know, we just asked you to remove personal items and make your home more neutral. But hear us out. 

Although many of the little decor changes mentioned above will help turn your property into a more neutral living space, you don’t want to strip it of all personality. Add little touches such as soft throws, scented candles and fresh flowers. These are safe options which can help your home look homely without alienating any potential buyers.

7.Use social media to share your property listing 

Although it’s your estate agent’s job to advertise your property, there’s no harm in you sharing the online listing. We recommend sharing the listing in your network. You never know, someone on your Facebook Friends list may always have had a crush on your home! 

8.Hire a great estate agent 

We’ve saved the most important tip for last. The estate agent you choose will make all the difference to how quickly your property gets sold. Although you may be tempted to go with the one with the lowest fee – don’t. Interview and research any estate agent thoroughly before you opt for them. Find out more about their experience and marketing strategy, and ask which property portals they will list your home on. 

Asking all the right questions when vetting estate agents will save you a lot of time (and money) and ensure your property is off the market before you know it!

For no-obligation advice on buying or selling your home in Chelmsford please contact our expert property team at Essex Homes And Lettings on 01245398466. We look forward to helping you.

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Stamp Duty Holiday: Everything You Need to Know

There has been much excitement here at Essex Homes And Lettings following the Chancellor’s announcement that stamp duty has been abolished for properties under £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland.

This is excellent news for the property market in Chelmsford, so we wanted to update you on everything you need to know if you are thinking of purchasing a property in Chelmsford.

What is Stamp Duty?

First up, let’s go back to basics for a moment with a concise explanation of stamp duty to bring you up to speed. When you’re buying a property, the term Stamp Duty will almost certainly come up and should be budgeted for in the early stages as you’re looking at your finances. So, historically, Stamp Duty has always been an important factor for homebuyers.

In England, Stamp Duty was actually introduced way back in the late 1600s, and it was initially a way for the monarchy at the time to raise much-needed funds to fill their war chests as they fought battles against France.

While we may not be at war with France, Stamp Duty still exists in the property sector, and it’s easy to see why, as it enables the Government to swell its coffers by billions of pounds each year.

So, whatever the history or the rights and wrongs of it, Stamp Duty has always been an important factor for home buyers.

Who Pays Stamp Duty?

The rules state that Stamp Duty must be paid when someone “buys a property or land over a certain price in England and Northern Ireland”. That “certain price” has previously been £125,000.

Rules on the Government website state that Stamp Duty is payable when you buy a freehold property, “buy or extend an existing freehold property”, buy through shared ownership, or if you are “transferred land or property in exchange for property”.

But, there have always been exceptions. For example, first-time buyers didn’t have to pay anything on the first £300,000 on the price of their new home. If the property price was above that, but below £500,000 they would have paid Stamp Duty of five per cent on the proportion above £300,000.

What’s changed?

Previously, you would have paid Stamp Duty on properties above £125,000, with the amount payable being calculated based on varying thresholds above that price.

Under the new rules announced by the Government, Stamp Duty has been abolished for properties under £500,000.

Above that figure, and you’ll pay five per cent for the next £425,000 and then 10 per cent on the next £575,000, then 12 per cent for the amount above £1.5m.

The good news is that these new rules apply to both first-time buyers and people who have owned property before.

The Chancellor himself predicts that on average, savings will be in the region of £4,500.

This move by the Government will, without doubt, get the housing market moving again, in that buyers will have more money in their pockets that they can potentially use as deposits.

Investors looking to buy a second home will also benefit because the Stamp Duty holiday will mean those who purchase through limited companies will be exempt, again, up to £500,000. But, the Government has chosen to retain the three per cent surcharge on these types of purchase.

When will the stamp duty holiday happen?

The new Stamp Duty rules apply to residential properties that are purchased between July 8, 2020 and March 31, 2021 (inclusive). Currently, the changes are not intended to be permanent as the Government has stated that after the Stamp Duty holiday period, previous rates will resume, although this of course could change.

How much will home buyers save?

Your savings could be in the thousands! If you’re buying a house in Chelmsford that is less than £500,000, then you will pay zero Stamp Duty.

Compare this to just a few days ago when you could have been hit with a Stamp Duty bill costing you thousands. For example, under the previous system, if you purchased a house worth £175,000, then you would have paid Stamp Duty of £1,000.

If the property was £400,000, then you would have expected to pay about £10,000 in Stamp Duty. Now, neither will be subject to Stamp Duty, so it’s happy days for you!

According to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, this will help nine out of 10 buyers.

The changes by the Government have been welcomed by the team here at Essex Homes And Lettings, because we know that it will potentially be a significant help to you in your next property purchase, so our team are on standby to help you find your dream home.

Call us on 01245398466 or email us at sales@essexhomesandlettings.co.uk and we will be delighted to speak with you!

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Which is better, renting or owning a home?

To buy, or to rent, that is the question

Whether you’re going to rent, or if you’re planning to buy, your next move in Chelmsford is a personal choice. There are pros and cons for both, and some thinking will need to be done before making a decision.

But first, let’s look at a couple of statistics.

According to the government, just over 60 per cent of households in England owned their own homes (in the two years from 2016 to 2018). It has also been estimated that more than a quarter of people will rent their home by the end of 2021.

While many people want to own their own home in Chelmsford, for others renting is the best option for them.

It’s not just younger people who are renting either. A large proportion of renters are those who cannot yet find enough money for a deposit to get on the first rung of the property ladder, but there is also a growing number of older people who are renting as they downsize or move to be near family.

But what are the pros and cons of renting or buying?

What should you consider?

Here, we look at some of the things you should be thinking about.

Renting to keep costs down?

It could be said that renting doesn’t cost as much as buying because you don’t have to find a deposit for a house. This is indeed true – but not always! Monthly rents are sometimes cheaper than monthly mortgage payments but this is not always the case. You will need a deposit (which is protected by government-backed schemes), and you will usually need to pay a month’s rent upfront. This however, is still a lot lower than having to find upwards of a 15 per cent deposit to buy a house.

Renting may initially be cheaper, but you will not be on the property ladder and you won’t be investing in bricks and mortar and the potential profits that can accumulate as a property’s value rises.

What about maintenance costs?

This is often a tricky question to answer. Why? Because as someone who rents, your landlord will be expected to keep the property well maintained, and legally they have to make sure that the house is safe to live in, with regular electrical and gas safety checks.

But, as the person who rents, you will need to look after the property and there is an acceptance by many that it is up to you to keep the property in good condition. If you break items, the likelihood is that it is in your contract to replace like for like.

Of course, if you own the home, then all of the maintenance will come down to you and you will incur the costs – but on the plus side it is your home and you are investing in it.

Top Tip: Think about your finances and whether or not you can afford to keep your own property in tip-top condition.

It’s flexible

Renting is a way for you to live somewhere where you may not be able to afford to buy, or where work means you have to live. Renting can be a good option in this case because if you have to move often due to your work, you’re not going to want to go through the selling and buying of a property multiple times.

This is a real benefit to renting, but please be aware that if you are tied into a contract for a specific length of time, then you may not be able to get out of it easily.

Top Tip: If you can, specify the length of your rental contract. If you think you may only be somewhere for six months, make sure you are not tied in to a contract with a no break clause.

When it comes to renting or buying, it’s best to take the time to make a list of all the pros and cons. Circumstances may mean that you have to rent, but if you look at the figures, you might think it better to get on the property ladder.

You will need to do all the financial calculations based on your circumstances to get the answer to these particular equations, but we at Essex Homes And Lettings can offer you our professional advice to help you make an informed decision.

Give us a call on 01245398466 for more advice. We might even have a house for sale that is perfect for you!

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Let Essex Homes And Lettings Negotiate the Best Deal on Your Next Property in Chelmsford

When you find your dream property in Chelmsford you don’t want anyone else to have it, so it’s quite normal to want to jump straight in with an offer, but here at Essex Homes And Lettings naturally we want all our clients to be happy and so that involves always negotiating the best price whether we are involved in the sale or purchase of a property. It’s always worth taking your time to negotiate the best deal – and here’s how we do it.

We know the local property market

Simply jumping in with a random offer, because you think that’s what the house is worth, can mean that you won’t get the best deal. We research the market thoroughly and keep a close eye on property prices. We make it our business to find out what other properties in Chelmsford were listed for versus the price that was eventually paid. And we note how long homes stay on the market.

We work for you!

We are always working for you and it’s in our interest to achieve the best price for your property if you’re selling and negotiate the deal you are happy with if you are buying.

We can advise you regarding your ‘buying position’

We’ve been in business a long time and can sniff out certain types of sellers who are on the lookout for buyers in strong positions, such as:

  • Cash buyers
  • Buyers with no chain
  • Clients who are keen to buy quickly with their own property sold
  • First time buyers who have their mortgage funding secured
  • Buyers who are renting or have some sort of flexibility in their move

If you can show that you’re in a good position to move and can complete the process quickly, then in our experience, sellers will offer a little more flexibility. Nobody wants to be stuck in a chain or waiting for someone else’s house to sell for the sake of a few thousand pounds, so this can invariably make an offer attractive.

We are professional and friendly at all times

We know that selling your family home can be an emotional experience, and some sellers will feel highly attached to their properties. After all, you may have spent years living there there and have lots of memories. Negotiations are always easier when empathy is shown and we pride ourselves on always being willing to work with our clients to reach an agreement whatever the situation.

We will work to secure the best deal

In many cases, negotiations initially start with a firm no on first offer! However, this is perfectly normal. If your first offer is rejected, we will work with you on a second offer and advise you if any counteroffer is forthcoming, liaising with the seller throughout.

We understand that buying a house can be a stressful process, and sometimes when you find the right property, it’s easy to get carried away. However, it’s advisable to speak with us regarding your budget before commencing negotiations so that we can handle this for you, allowing you to get the best deal on your dream home.

Call the team at Essex Homes And Lettings today on 01245398466 and let us negotiate the best deal on your next home.

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Essex Homes And Lettings and our responsibilities to you during COVID-19

At Essex Homes And Lettings we take the health and safety of our staff and clients extremely seriously. We are staying up to date with, and taking advice from the Government, Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer as the COVID-19 situation progresses.

Given the current level of concern, we want to reassure all our clients that we have taken and will continue to take the appropriate and necessary steps to ensure our levels of service and quality are maintained, without risk to staff and clients and without loss of service whilst adhering to recommendations.

We will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis and we will provide updates accordingly.

We have already taken the following steps and are confident that we can and will operate with minimal disruption through the next phases of the coronavirus outbreak whilst meeting the needs and requirements of our clients and the wider public.

Office

As per current guidance, we have asked that most of our team members work from home. We have a limited number of staff working from our office, but we request that you do not attend our office unless it is absolutely essential. Please also do not attend without prior arrangement. 

We will be avoiding handshakes and asking anyone who visits our office to wash or sanitise their hands.

Staff still situated in our offices understand their responsibility to report immediately any change in their health, family health or circumstances.

We have provided hand gel on all staff desks and do not allow staff to share phones or equipment.

All door handles, phones, keyboards and other office equipment is cleaned regularly.

Clients

Where possible we are offering the following:

  • 360-degree viewings
  • Video call viewings
  • Recorded video viewings

All of our communication channels – telephone, email, text messages, messenger and social media are all operating as normal and all staff members are contactable. 

Buyer and Seller Information

We have introduced new procedures and guidelines in the event of viewing requests. These will be reviewed as the situation evolves but our foremost concern is to keep staff and clients safe. Please talk to our staff on 01245398466 or email sales@essexhomesandlettings.co.uk with regard to this.

We are here to help and support all of our clients and we hope you, your friends and family remain safe and healthy for the duration of COVID-19.

Thank you for your patience, support and understanding during this challenging time.

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Your 6 Step Guide to the Conveyancing Process

Finding the house of your dreams in Chelmsford is exciting and your next step is to secure the property as soon as possible. But buying a new home can be a complex process, particularly when it comes to understanding the conveyancing procedure.

Here at Essex Homes And Lettings we always endeavour to ensure your sale and purchase runs smoothly, with no surprises along the way. So, with this in mind, we have created a no-jargon guide to the conveyancing process to help you.

But, first things first.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal term for the transfer of home ownership between a buyer and seller. The process begins once your offer is accepted on your chosen property and completes when you have the keys in your hand on moving day! This conveyancing process is absolutely essential to ensure that all the legalities of your sale or purchase are covered and to make certain the transfer of ownership happens with as little stress as possible.

Who does the conveyancing?

Although you can do it yourself, we always recommend that the conveyancing process is undertaken by a professional solicitor or a conveyancer as it can be a multifaceted process. You’ll need to instruct a legal professional as soon as your offer on a property is accepted, so it’s wise to make enquiries and carry out due diligence so that you have several options ready and can start the process without delay. Once you have chosen and appointed a conveyancer or solicitor, they will draw up a draft contract and advise you of their charges.

The 8-step Conveyancing Process

Step 1: Initial contact is made between legal representatives

The first task undertaken by your solicitor or conveyancer will be to contact your seller’s legal representative to request a copy of the draft contract, the property’s title and other standard forms. Your solicitor or conveyancer will thoroughly examine these documents and raise any initial queries. They will also action a number of ‘searches’ to make sure there are no issues you need to be aware of that are not in plain sight. The most common searches are local authority searches, environmental searches and drainage and water searches.

Step 2: Mortgage and survey requirements are confirmed

At this point, if you need one, you should make sure your mortgage is in place as your solicitor or conveyancer will require a copy of your mortgage offer for the next stage of the conveyancing process.

You will also be required to get a mortgage valuation. This is carried out on behalf of your mortgage lender and is to satisfy the lender that the property is secure against the amount of money they are loaning you.

A necessary survey may also be required at this stage. Whilst not a legal requirement, whether you decide to instruct a survey on the property or not will depend on both the property and your specific circumstances.

Step 3: Contracts are signed

Once all the searches have completed, queries have been answered, you have provided your mortgage offer and are satisfied with the survey that has been carried out on the property, your solicitor will agree details regarding the transfer of your deposit funds along with a completion date. You will then be ready to sign the contract in preparation for exchange and completion.

Step 4: Contracts are exchanged

Next comes the exciting part! Exchange of contracts between buyer and seller. Your deposit will be paid on exchange and at this time you will be in a legally binding contract. The good news is that the seller can no longer accept another offer on the property and must sell the property to you. However, if you back out of the purchase at this stage, you will lose your entire deposit. There is usually a deliberate delay between exchange and completion to allow the deeds to the property to be transferred into your name.

Step 5: Finally, it’s completion day!

Completion is usually set for 12 noon or 2pm on the agreed date, however, in reality it can happen as soon as the sellers’ solicitor confirms that all monies have been received. You can then collect your keys to your new home from us – a moment that always makes us smile!

Step 6: The final legal work is completed

Whilst you move into your new property, your solicitor or conveyancer will tie up all the loose ends from a legal perspective. They will ensure stamp duty is paid on your behalf, send your title deeds to your mortgage lender and make sure you receive copies of your legal documents.

They will also send you your final bill for legal work undertaken.

Now all that is left for you to do is to unpack, settle into your dream home in Chelmsford and enjoy your perfect surroundings.

If you require further independent advice, help and assistance regarding the conveyancing process, the Essex Homes And Lettings team are happy to help. Contact us on 01245398466 or email sales@essexhomesandlettings.co.uk.