First Time Buyers

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Internet automation is a great thing, most of the time. But, at Victor Michael we understand the value of having the best people and the best knowledge possible, so that we can do the very best job when it comes to selling your home. With that in mind, here are just a few of the things that make Victor Michael different from the purely online only competitors out there.


We know the areas we’re selling in.

This is the single biggest thing to factor in when selling your home, because it affects everything else. Ultimately, without the best possible knowledge and experience of the area, it’s impossible to have an easy time selling your home. So, Victor Michael balance having a national database of statistics and clients with also having more local knowledge than you can shake a stick at. Our estate agents come with years of experience and local knowledge which we further develop and enhance. They’re then trained to a nationally consistent standard and pushed to know more and more about the areas they’re selling in. Our agents know not only what other properties in your area have sold for, they also know what can be done to maximise your home’s value. And, although some online agents claim to be in touch with ‘local experts’ there’s no way to know that you’re dealing with the best people possible. Often, with online agents, you never meet the person or people looking after your account, there isn’t the option to go in and speak in person. We know how reassuring it is when there is someone who can offer you a cup of tea and a word of advice.


We don’t leave you to do the viewings.

At Victor Michael we liaise with you the entire time, and this is crucial with viewings, because we know how frustrating viewings can be, and not just for the time it takes you to prepare your house. With online agencies, not only might you have to organise and attend all of the viewings, but there’s also no way to figure out who is truly interested in your property. Because potential buyers deal with us directly, we’re able to make sure that only highly interested parties come to see your property and take up your time. Above and beyond all of this, we accompany every viewing to your home. This way, you can rest assured that your home is being displayed by experienced salespeople, who know how to market your home to its highest potential.


We won’t make you do the legwork!

We know that selling your home can be a stressful time, it’s a big move to make, and it’s not just the practical side you have to deal with — there are a lot of emotions too. Whether it’s help with negotiating your offer or dealing with solicitors, Victor Michael are here to make your sale as smooth as possible throughout the process. So we’ll take charge of communications with the buyers and even offer advice when working with your solicitor, something online agencies don’t always do. Having us do some of the negotiating takes out a lot of the stress involved when selling your home.


 We will get you the best price for your home.

There is no real motivation for online agents to get you the best possible price for your home. Though many claim to get 99% of the asking price, research suggests that some of the most popular agents only secure the initial asking price for between just 30 and 50 percent of sellers. Part of this ties back to the very first point we made, online agencies simply don’t have the experience of the local area you need and deserve. Without a deep understanding of the local area, it’s almost impossible to give you an accurate valuation of your home, which you need to get the best price later on.


These are just some of the things that set Victor Michael apart from online agencies, and trusting anyone with your property is a big step, we know that. So if you have any other questions, if you’re not quite convinced, just drop into your local Victor Michael branch today and ask us — we’ll always be happy to help.

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We’re not going to lie and pretend that selling a home doesn’t come with certain filing requirements. However, if you’re well prepared and allow plenty of time to get your affairs in order, you’ll avoid any last-minute panic. Follow our guide to discover more about what documents you need to move home and make the house-selling process that much easier.


Property title deeds

If you don’t have the property title deeds for your home, don’t worry too much. However, you will need to produce the deeds to prove that you do own the home you’re selling. You’ll be able to obtain these from the solicitor you used when originally applying for a mortgage or buying your existing property, or failing that, you can contact the Land Registry.


Energy Performance Certificate

All domestic and commercial buildings must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and it needs to be available to potential buyers as soon as you put your house up for sale. It is a useful document, which gives information about how energy efficient a property is, according to a rating of between A (very efficient) and G (inefficient). Only accredited Domestic Energy Assessors can produce valid EPCs.


What if my property is leasehold?

If your property is leasehold, you will need to provide a copy of the lease and complete a seller’s leasehold information form. Don’t forget that if you pay a management fee for services and maintenance you will also need to send off for a Management Information Pack. Your solicitor should be able to obtain this on your behalf.


Fittings and contents

Sometimes referred to as the Schedule of Fixtures and Fittings, the Fittings and Contents Form (TA10) specifies what the seller is including in the sale of the home and what will be removed.
In addition, anyone selling a property is required to fill out a Property Information Form (TA6). This is a questionnaire which gathers information about, for instance, planning consent and building regulations.


Anything else?

When dealing with a solicitor you will always need to provide proof of identity, so make sure you have a passport and recent utility bill to hand. You should also collect details of your existing mortgage, along with your account information and the amount outstanding.

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Looking for ways to spruce up your home without putting yourself in the doghouse? Whether you’re getting ready to sell your home or want to spiff it up inexpensively for your own enjoyment, we’ve got 10 good strategies for you to consider.

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The actual cost and payback for each project can vary, depending on both your home’s condition and overall real estate market values in your region of the country.

  1. Make your kitchen really cook.

The kitchen is still considered the heart of the home. Potential home buyers make a beeline for this room when they first view a home for sale, so make sure your kitchen looks clean and reasonably updated. For a few hundred pounds, you can replace the kitchen faucet set, add new cabinet door handles and update old lighting fixtures with brighter, more energy-efficient ones. If you’ve got a slightly larger budget, you can give the cabinets themselves a makeover. Rather than spring for a whole new cabinet system, which can be expensive, look into hiring a refacing company, many companies can remove cabinet doors and drawers, refinish the cabinet boxes and then add brand-new doors and drawers. With a fresh coat of paint over the whole set, your cabinets will look like new.


  1. Buff up the bath.

Next to the kitchen, bathrooms are often the most important rooms to update. They, too, can be improved without a lot of cash. Even simple things like a new toilet seat and a pedestal sink are easy for homeowners to install, and they make a big difference in the look of the bath. If your tub and shower are looking dingy, consider re-grouting the tile and replacing any chipped tiles. A more complete cover-up is a prefabricated tub and shower surround. These one-piece units may require professional installation but can still be cheaper than paying to re-tile walls and refinish a worn tub.


  1. Step up your storage.

Old houses, particularly, are notorious for their lack of closet space. If you have cramped storage areas, add do-it-yourself wire and laminate closet systems to bedrooms, pantries and entry closets. In the end, your closets will be more functional while you’re living in the house and will make your home look more customized to potential buyers when you’re ready to sell.


  1. Add a room in a week or less.

If you have a three-bedroom house with a den, the only reason the den can’t be considered a bedroom may be because it doesn’t have a closet. If you add a closet to that room, you’ve now got a four-bedroom house. That adds a lot of value.


  1. Mind the mechanics.

It’s often very worthwhile to hire an electrician and plumber for a couple of hours to look over your electrical services, wrap or fix loose wires, fix any faulty outlets, and check for and fix any water leaks, those details tell a buyer that someone has really taken care of the home and can really influence its price.


  1. Look underfoot.

Carpeting is another detail that can quickly update a home and make it look cleaner. A professional carpet cleaning is an inexpensive investment, especially if your rugs are in good shape and are neutral colours. If your carpet is showing serious wear, cover it with inexpensive, strategically placed area rugs. Unless it is truly hideous, most real estate agents don’t suggest replacing wall-to-wall carpeting right before you sell your house. The new homeowners may want to choose their own carpeting after they move in.


  1. Let there be light.

If you have boring recessed lights in your dining and living rooms, consider replacing one of the room’s lights with an eye-catching chandelier. Home stores offer a wide range of inexpensive, but nice-looking, ceiling fixtures these days.


  1. Reframe your entry.

Do you have a flimsy little knob on your main entry door? If so, spring for a substantial-looking handle-and-lock set. A nice, big piece of hardware on the front door signals to newcomers that this is a solid home.


  1. Consider curb appeal.

Although it sounds obvious, a nicely mowed lawn, a few well-placed shrubs and a swept driveway makes a great first impression. What buyers see when they first drive by your home is tremendously important. If you don’t have a green thumb, consider hiring a landscaper to install some new sod, plant a few evergreen shrubs and give your front yard a good cleanup. These kinds of changes can instantly change people’s perception of your home and, therefore, increase its value.

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The need for new residential buildings is obvious in a big city like London. However, space for new homes can be an issue, even when the Government actually decides to give funds for development.

A recent report states that in London are 18 hotspots when it comes to counting residential developments.

In terms of values, the majority are localities where new build developments are priced at under £800 per square foot most are also outside zone 1.

These hotspots range from Southall in the West of London to Tottenham Hale in the North and West Ham in the East. They all have one thing in common: their future and raise of prices depends heavily on the infrastructure updates London already happening all across town.

Report identities new build development hotspots in London

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… but don’t give up easily!

The profile of a first time buyer (FTB) is clear: around 32 and with an income of £66,000. They want a home and usually turn to mortgages to become homeowners, but still have a hard time getting what they want.

First time buyers still struggle to get on housing ladder in London

However, another advantage of a young first time buyer is that they don’t give up easily. So, despite the challenges, first time buyers seemed to get the loans they needed in January. The figures rose compared to December and November, which is a good sign…

Home loans to first time buyers in the UK increased in January

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Every buyer must have had this dilemma in their minds at one point: is it cheaper to rent or to buy?

Those in Scotland can almost be convinced that it is better to buy than to rent. It’s the statistics there for the last 9 years, time in which the cost for buying a property actually decreased.

First time buyers are better off in terms of cost than those who rent in Scotland

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Quite simply, conveyancing is the process that happens between you putting in an offer on a property and completing, in order for you to become the new legal owner of the property. It is the transferring of a property’s legal title from the old owner to the new owner.


Who does my conveyancing?

You can hire a solicitor, property lawyer or a licensed conveyancer to do your conveyancing for you.

All solicitors are qualified to undertake work of this kind, but not all are experienced in it.

It could therefore prove sensible to hire a solicitor who specialises in residential property transactions, or a dedicated licensed conveyancer who only works on cases of this kind.

You may, however, find that you have to choose from a list of conveyancers approved by your mortgage lender, or pay a fee to go elsewhere.


Making sure legal processes are followed properly during a property sale is vital otherwise the whole thing could fall through. So you need to find a solicitor you are confident will do a good job. You can search for conveyancers on the Council for Licensed Conveyancers website.


Conveyancers will either charge you a flat fee or a percentage of the value of the property. Costs will vary, but you can expect to pay between £500 – £1,500 depending on how complex the transaction is. Get a few different quotes before choosing who to use.

Try not to use a solicitor who is too busy to give your case the attention it needs. If possible tell them your preferred exchange and completion dates and ask if they can meet these.

Also avoid choosing a solicitor who is very junior or lacking in conveyancing experience. All solicitors are qualified to do conveyancing but if possible use a firm that specialises in this area.

It can also help to use a local solicitor, they will have a good knowledge of any laws or issues particular to the area. Although most of the process can be handled via phone or email, being able to drop into an office to handover paperwork or check on things can speed things up.

If you are dealing with an estate agent they will often recommend a conveyancer to you, but you don’t have to use them. You should shop around yourself to see if you can get a better deal on price or service.


What happens on completion day?

After finding a house, securing a mortgage, ensuring the legal aspects are covered and exchanging the contracts, the big day arrives, so what can you expect?

Completion day is the main event, where the purchase funds are transferred between solicitors, the keys are handed over and ownership of the property is transferred, leaving you free to move in.

Your conveyancing solicitor will aim to have this arranged by midday, checking you are happy to proceed with the transaction and ensuring the funds are available for release, allowing formal completion of the sale. They will then inform you that the sale has gone through and you can pick up the keys to your new home either from the vendor or the estate agent, formally finalising the deal.

What happens after completion?

Once you are in your new home, the conveyancing process continues as your solicitor ties up the remaining loose ends, drawing the transaction to a close.

This will involve any remaining administrative issues, such as:

Checking all deeds and documents are correctly signed and legally binding

Paying the necessary Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

Applying to the Land Registry to record the transfer of ownership and mortgage (where necessary), and pay the required fees

Liaising with the Land Registry to resolve any issues raised by requisition

Checking that registration of ownership and mortgage documents are in order and names etc. are spelt correctly

Sending a copy of the title deeds to you, along with any remaining documents that are not required by the mortgage lender.

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Shared Ownership

This scheme allows you to buy a share in a property and then pay rent on the remaining part.  This means you can start of paying the mortgage that you can afford and then overtime buy a bigger share of the property when your finances allow, this process is called ‘staircasing’.


To be eligible to buy a home through Help to Buy: Shared Ownership in England you’ll need to:

Have a household income of £80,000 a year or less outside London, or £90,000 a year or less in London.

Own no other property (you cannot be a homeowner or be named on the deeds of another property).

Have no outstanding credit issues.

Properties that can be purchased through shared ownership are from Housing Associations and can either be new builds or resales of existing shared-ownership properties.  When purchasing a shared ownership property you will work with a Home Buy agent, who will manage your application.

Other shared ownership schemes

There are other schemes that offer shared routes to shared ownership and are focused on particular groups.


Key Worker Housing Eligibility:


Each housing association will have a specific allowance of properties that are reserved for key workers. Each local authority will have their own specific list of key workers and eligibility criteria but as a general rule you must be employed in a qualifying key worker profession and have a minimum of 5 years to serve before reaching retirement.


Eligible key worker job roles include:




Prison Service

Probation Service

Local Authority

Fire Fighters

Ministry of Defence (MoD)

Environmental Health Officers

Highways Agency Traffic Officers


HOLD (Home Ownership for people with Long-Term Disabilities)

This scheme helps assist people with long-term disabilities to purchase a home and live independently. As with other shared ownership schemes, you buy an initial share and then more shares as you can afford it from the Housing Association or Registered provider.  The difference, however, is that if the properties available are not suitable to accommodate your needs, you may be able to buy a property from the open market.  This requires a referral to a specialist provider and your local authority to validate the application.  It is a voluntary scheme and as a result not necessarily available throughout the UK.


OPSO – Older People’s Shared Ownership

Supporting people over 55 to home ownership, it follows the same principles as other shared ownership schemes but the properties available are exclusively for those over the age of 55. The maximum you can own however is 75% of the property and if you do so, you will not have to pay rent on the remaining 25%.

If you already have a property this will need to be sold before applying to the scheme.

Extra Care is an extension provided by some OPSO schemes and is a Sheltered Shared Ownership scheme, which provides the added benefit of onsite care. This allows residents to live independently in self-contained, modern homes with access to tailored care package and support programme.


Rent to Buy is another route to shared ownership for those who haven’t yet been able to save the 5% deposit that is required.  Housing Associations and registered providers offer homes to rent, the rents are typically about 20% less than the open market rent, giving you an opportunity to save a deposit.  You will also be given the option in the future to purchase a share of your home and staircase up as you are able to invest more in your home.


Starter Homes is a new scheme which is due to launch shortly aimed exclusively at people 23-40 looking to get on to the housing ladder.  As part of the planning conditions, developers will be required to supply specific ‘starter homes’ which will then be sold through an approved scheme, priced at least 20% below market value.  The maximum property price outside London will be £250,000 and inside London £450,000.


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You’ve found the home of your dreams, but it’s listed. Should this put you off, or is it nothing to worry about?

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Here are five things you need to know about buying a listed property


  1. Your property will be on a national register

Listed buildings are on a national register of properties which are of architectural or historical interest. There are around 500,000 listed buildings in the UK. There are three distinct types of listing:


Grade I: This means the property is of ‘exceptional interest’. Only around 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade 1 listed.

Grade II*: This means the property is important and considered of more than special interest. Around 5.5% of listed buildings fall into this category.

Grade II: This means the building is of special interest. The clear majority of listed buildings, around 92%, fall into this category.


All buildings constructed before 1700 are listed, as are the majority of those built between 1700 and 1840. Some modern buildings are listed too if they are considered of special importance, such as the Royal Festival Hall and the BT Tower in London. You can find out if a property is listed by searching for it on the National Heritage List for England.


  1. You’ll need specialist permission to make changes

If you want to make changes to a listed property, such as building an extension or changing the internal layout, you will have to apply for listed building consent. It can be more difficult to get this consent, as conservation officers need to take the property’s historical significance into consideration. If planning permission is granted, you may need to use specialist materials or techniques so that you don’t alter the character of the property.

If you’re considering buying a listed property, you must check that any work that’s been done in the past had planning permission. If it hasn’t, then you rather than the previous owner will be responsible for putting things back to how they were.


  1. Repairs may cost more

You’ll often have to hire tradesmen with specialist skills and products to make repairs to a listed property, which can be far more expensive than using a ‘standard’ builder. Do plenty of research before buying and make sure you get a comprehensive survey, so you get an idea of the sort of work that might need doing.

  1. You may be able to get a grant for repairs to a listed property

Historic England, which is the public body that looks after England’s historic environment, occasionally offers grants to owners of historic buildings if they need repair. They are usually offered in situations where, without a grant, a project would not be able to go ahead. You can find out more about some of the grants which might be available and how to apply for them at



  1. You may need specialist home insurance

When taking out home insurance, you must let your insurer know if the property is listed. Depending on the type of property you are buying, you may need specialist cover, although some mainstream insurers will cover listed buildings.

Remember too that your buildings cover should be for the rebuild cost of the property and not its market value. Listed buildings often have higher rebuild costs than other properties because they may require specialist materials. This means cover can be more expensive than if you are buying a home that isn’t listed. Never scrimp on cover – if you are underinsured, this could cause serious financial problems if you need to make a claim.


No question that a listed building potentially presents more problems than a new home, but owners of listed properties say it’s the same as owning a vintage car. It may need more servicing but every time you look at it, you feel a little surge of pride and pleasure!

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